Leadership Styles: Autocratic Leadership

by Shopper Approved | May 1, 2018

The way employees are managed or a team is led can have a direct impact on the effectiveness, productivity, and creativity of its output. Some leadership styles have proven more effective than others at helping people produce their best work.


What is Autocratic Leadership?

An autocratic leader manages using fear, discipline, and control tactics. While fear may motivate employees to do the job right, it doesn’t create a healthy relationship between parties involved. Very similar to micro-managing, employees are dependent on their management to get the job done right, as they are afraid to make mistakes.


What are the downsides to Autocratic Leadership?

The downsides are very similar to the pitfalls of micromanaging (you can read the post about that here). Employees feel invalidated, undervalued, and incapable. This can lead to a hostile work environment, plummeting employee morale and eventually productivity.

Because decisions are made solely by management and feedback isn’t valued from employees in this leadership style, organizations continue to use bad ideas created by management. Innovation is lacking and this can plateau the company’s growth and capabilities. Inviting employees that are doing the day-to-day work to provide feedback and ideas for improvement are critical to successful companies.


What’s the upside to Autocratic Leadership?

Even with the hostility that typically comes to autocratic management, there are a couple of benefits. Expectations for employees are clearly laid out, and there’s little question in what they are supposed to do. Also, because of the strict hierarchy (the boss is in charge), decisions are stream-lined and there’s no wait for debate or challenges.


Is an Autocratic Leadership style right for my company?

Probably not. The cons certainly outweigh the pros. While rare use of this leadership style may be beneficial (if a hard decision needs to be made quickly, management making the decision may be the right call without employee input), it just isn’t sustainable as a long-term management use. Employee burn-out, high turnover rates, and poor company culture are the results of continuous autocratic leadership.

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