Advantages & disadvantages of autocratic leadership

Written by jamie m. kisner
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Advantages & disadvantages of autocratic leadership
(male leadership image by Daniel Wiedemann from Fotolia.com)

Autocratic leadership is a top-down approach. This leadership model can be difficult for certain employees, while it may be the method others need to do their best. There are some advantages and disadvantages to using this method of leadership within an organisation.

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History

According to Money Zine, "The Autocratic Leadership Style was first described by Lewin, Lippitt, and White in 1938, along with the democratic leadership and the laissez-faire leadership styles. The autocratic leadership style is sometimes referred to as the directive leadership style."

The characteristics include: the boss's ideas rule; there is limited employee input; and the work methods are dictated the the boss. There is little flexibility in decision-making, and rules are strictly adhered to, allowing the leader of the company full control. This form of control or authority can be viewed as a dictatorship. This type of leader is likely to use force, manipulation or coercion to achieve company objectives. The idea is that employees are not to be trusted, only controlled.

Advantages

In the military and other urgent circumstances, people may prefer the ability to be told what do next. According to Money Zine, "In fact, in times of stress or emergency, some subordinates may actually prefer an autocratic style--they prefer to be told exactly what to do. ... The autocratic leadership style is very effective when times are stressful."

Lengthy debate has no place in many work environments, and this form of leadership limits arguments. It allows employees to have one task, and that is to work, which could mean that the employees master their tasks and become proficient enough to help grow the company.

Disadvantages

According to Money Zine, "The communication style of an autocratic leader is usually described as one way. They tell you exactly what they want done." This can be frustrating if the boss talks to the employees only when they make mistakes, and little praise is provided. In addition, it can generate a company of zombies with no fresh ideas. This autocratic style can create an environment of fear and resentment, leading to high turnover and absenteeism, which can hinder progress. Moreover, it can stifle creative ideas that might make the company more competitive.

Theories/Speculation

This method of leadership may lead to more pressure from the boss on the rest of the employees, who then push back against the management method. Theft and other issues may arise because of a lack of workplace satisfaction. According to Smart Entrepreneur, "This is one of the least desirable when it comes to building trusting relationships and making friends. In this system, one person has control over all of the workers or followers."

Making friends is an important part of life, and if this is destroyed, it can create an unhappy environment. This translates to the quality of work, and not being seen as human can cause more resistance to new aspects of the job. A little autonomy and social appeal can make a difference in retaining good workers.

Conclusion

The pros and cons of autocratic leadership are clear for certain situations. For example, emergencies require a strong leader to keep order. However, in less stressful circumstances, it may be better to debate an issue before proceeding. Autocratic leaders may not be good at communication, but they sometimes have the best ideas.

On the other hand, autocratic leaders must take full responsibility for the results. This last part does not usually occur, and this leaves many employees unhappy and feeling undervalued. Therefore, the dynamic of the relationship in the professional environment must change to become more equal. Otherwise, you may a have strong leader with no followers or employees who have no direction.

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