Definition of autocratic leadership style

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An autocratic leadership style is one of tyranny and despotism, similar to a dictatorship. This type of leadership style is primarily seen in governments. There are historical examples of the disadvantages and oppression of an autocratic leadership style.

Definition defines autocratic as tyrannical, despotic, domineering and having unlimited power and authority. Therefore, an autocratic leadership style is one who leads as a tyrant with absolute power and ruling "with an iron fist."


An autocratic leadership style cab exist in governments and businesses. For example, in government, a tyrant may order the execution of any political opponents. In business, a CEO may order the firing of any associates who don't agree with him.

Autocratic Leadership Style vs. Dictatorship

An autocratic leadership style is synonymous with dictatorship. A dictatorship is one in which all power lies with one person or form of government.


A few of the many disadvantages of an autocratic leadership style include: oppression of the population, lack of creativity and non-representative form of government. Saddam Hussein murdered people who didn't agree with him. As a result, the people were oppressed without the freedom to create and implement ideas to make their everyday lives better. Saddam Hussein's government was not representative of the population of Iraq with regard to gender, cultural or religious background.

Historical Examples

Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Fidel Castro are examples of the autocratic leadership style. Hitler and his administration were responsible for the deaths of millions of Jewish people. Stalin killed more than 3 million people through famines, executions and forced labour. Castro has total control over Cuba's resources, resulting in food rationing and attempts by numerous residents to flee the country.

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