Leadership and management are considered essential elements of running a business. Whether you are an entrepreneur or work for someone else, leadership qualities are a must for success. Studies show that every individual is a leader in their capacity and must exhibit leadership qualities like taking responsibility and initiative. Yet, things are slightly different when you are in a leadership role. When you are the CEO of your business or your higher management chooses you to be in a leadership role, you are responsible for your team. You are questioned for your performance and progress as your individual performance impacts your role as a team member as well.
As a leader, the main goal is to increase the productivity of your team and make sure everything goes smoothly. However, every leader is different from the others. Some leaders are autocratic or authoritative that keep the control in their hands. Alternatively, transformational and visionary leaders do not micromanage their teams. They allow the team members to give their best in whatever way they find convenient.
Let’s tell you more about authoritative leadership, including the advantages and disadvantages of the authoritative leadership style.
What is the Authoritative Leadership Style?
The most precise way to explain an authoritative leadership style is an authoritative leader’s motto, “My Way or the High Way.”
Authoritative leaders are also known as autocratic leaders. These leaders create specific operating guidelines and work according to the pre specified guidelines only. Authoritative leadership does not appreciate free thinking and creativity. Such leaders like to keep control in their hands and do not offer leadership opportunities to their team members.
While authoritative leadership is not considered the best practice, it is still widely used in a few organizations. It is a preferred choice of leadership style in government structures where people must align to a specific method as changes may lead to problems. The leadership is centralized without empowering others to make decisions.
Qualities of an Authoritative Leader
Before we talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the authoritative leadership style, let’s look at the qualities of authoritative leaders.
- Authoritative leaders can take on challenges and finish projects without entirely relying on the team. They do not wait for the team members to update them about the progress and ask for it themselves before delegating further tasks.
- These leaders are confident in their decisions and are most unlikely to change their working methods. They are sure of their conduct and processes as those practices have provided outcomes throughout their career.
- They take the responsibility seriously and do not distribute the burden among the team. They carry most of the workload on their shoulder, and their team depends on them as the main decision-makers.
- Authoritative leaders have good communication skills to communicate all tasks down the hierarchy. Dealing with a lot of people at once can often lead to miscommunication. Thus, these leaders possess assertive communication skills to ensure proper communication among all channels.
Now that you know all about authoritative leaders, let’s talk about the pros and cons of this leadership style. Authoritative leaders are not only responsible or strict in their conduct. There’s a lot more to this leadership style. Here are all the advantages and disadvantages of the authoritative leadership style.
Advantages of Authoritative Leadership Style
All the characteristics of authoritative leadership lead to improved productivity within the team. Each team member gives their best in the particular role they are assigned. Employees working under authoritative leaders are aware of their duties and typically produce results as expected. Meeting deadlines on time with no loopholes in the process leads to better productivity from the working. It directs the energy from problem-solving or managing other team members to finding perfection in their assigned tasks.
Relieves Burden from the Team
Authoritative leaders do not only take responsibility but also pressure from higher management. The team members are only expected to focus on the designated tasks without worrying about other aspects of the process. These leaders do not expect their team members to keep an eye on other factors affecting the project. Everyone has to ensure they are giving their best while the leader takes the complex decisions. This pushes the team to perform their tasks vigilantly.
Organizations that follow laissez-faire or visionary leadership styles may sometimes take more time to produce results compared to authoritative leadership. While studies often show that ideas created through brainstorming within ideas have a better impact, it is time-taking. On the contrary, the authoritative leadership style produces quicker results. It is suitable for companies that need to generate results in a shorter time. The leaders assign work along with strict deadlines. The team members do not have to spend a lot of time brainstorming new ideas. Eventually, it also reduces the time to consult with other people to find solutions to problems.
When everyone in the team follows a pre-designed model for working in the department, the chances of mistakes are less. The leader’s communication skills ensure that the team does not deviate from the given pathway and performs their task accordingly. Moreover, considering their responsibility, authoritative leaders go through each phase of the process to point out any errors and fix them immediately.
As mentioned earlier, authoritative leaders have articulate communication skills to convey their message to the staff. They are responsible for communicating the progress to the team and higher management. So, employees working under an authoritative leader understand that they cannot instruct other teammates about their tasks. It prevents miscommunication within the team and makes way for better performance when the instructions are clear. It also avoids issues within the team as no team member tries to take the lead over the other by authorizing tasks.
The authoritative leadership style provides consistent results, especially when working in small groups. It can be difficult to manage small groups as every member tends to make decisions themselves. Often, workers do not even inform the leaders before deciding on an important matter. In such situations, an authoritative leadership style provides a direction and pathway for the members to work on. There are lesser chances of miscommunication, and the group produces consistent results.
Suitable for Inexperienced Employees
The authoritative leadership style is suitable for inexperienced employees who may not be able to make decisions independently. It gives them a push start and offers an insight into how leaders work to keep the team running smoothly. It will also help them polish their skills of working in a team and utilize the expertise of their leader where needed.
Disadvantages of the Authoritative Leadership Style
Displeasure Within Team
While the authoritative leadership style is a good choice for some organizations, every employee might not appreciate it. Employees coming from a free-reign environment do not like being micromanaged or controlled. This can lead to displeasure and rebellion within the team about the leader being too bossy.
Many people do not like to be dictated to and expected to follow the rules word by word. It halts their creative abilities, and they believe they have been pushed into a small box. Such employees also think that any little mistake can lead to the blame falling on their heads as they failed to care for a minor problem. Thus, many employees prefer working under transformational leaders instead of authoritative ones. On the other hand, Laissez-faire leadership promotes creativity and leadership within leadership.
Lesser Group Input
The lack of involvement from the team also leads to a lack of interest within the team. Often, team members feel demotivated when their experiences or suggestions are not welcome. They stop taking an interest in the processes within the company and only focus on the assigned tasks. It may result in issues the leader does not anticipate. Allowing the team members to give their input to improve the process can benefit the department and the organization.
Authoritative leaders are highly concerned about receiving the designated tasks on time and usually offer little flexibility to the workers. The employees feel stuck in the company and look for better places to move to. The lack of flexibility may also harm their mental and physical health, resulting in more errors instead of better productivity.
Have you seen how team members love to give their opinions when asked?
Most employees appreciate it when their leaders and managers ask for their suggestions and opinions. Authoritative leaders typically lack this quality. Thus, the workers feel dissatisfied with their job as they find it robotic to only follow a given schedule. Many employees also leave their companies for the same reason they are not able to enjoy their job under authoritative leaders.
Lesser Room for Improvement
Persons, teams, and companies improve through feedback and criticism. However, authoritative leaders reduce the room for improvement within the team to a great extent as they do not ask for feedback. The members avoid offering feedback when not asked due to the nature of the leaders. It hinders the growth of the employees as individuals and the organization as a whole.
Blame Falls on the Leaders
People who are a part of teams run by authoritative leaders fear mistakes. Authoritative leaders do not spare employees minor mistakes and might not refrain from pointing you in front of the rest of the team. It is not so with the team only. Autocratic leaders are held responsible for any problems caused by the team. The higher management does not ask the team members about the issue as they understand the leadership style being followed. They believe it is the leader’s responsibility to deliver the required results.
What happens in authoritative leadership when the leader fails to respond to the team on time?
You guessed it right – the team misses deadlines, and productivity decreases. When the team is so dependent on the leader and not authorized to make any decisions, a delay in communication can stop the operation. It often leads to missed deadlines, delays in project delivery, and loss of clients.
Weak Team Engagement
It has been seen that teams with visionary leaders can perform better together even when no one is specifically authorized. They depend on each other and trust the other person to make the best decision. It also increases their sense of empathy, and the team members may cover another teammate’s task if they are not available. This cycle continues, and the work is not affected even if an employee is unavailable for a short period.
While we mentioned that authoritative leaders are confident in their conduct and methods, it is not always the case. Being humans, sometimes authoritative or autocratic leadership may also make wrong decisions. As authoritative leaders put themselves forward as confident, and experienced, it can be difficult for them to admit their mistakes. It develops a sense of insecurity in them that someone else might take their position if they cannot prove their expertise. The failure to consult with the team and take advantage of experienced members can harm the team’s reputation in the long term.
Higher Turnover Rate
A high turnover rate is common in organizations that follow authoritative and bureaucratic leadership. When an employee has worked in the same environment, performing the same task for some time, they will try to move to another place to learn more. Yet, companies do not typically mind this change as they also believe that they have made the best use of an individual’s capacity. When they receive the productivity they look forward to; such companies are open to recruiting new people interested in the task. However, recruitment is a costly and time-taking process, and it is better to retain employees than hire new ones.
What are the Best Authoritative Leadership Practices?
Being an authoritative or autocratic leader does not mean you only have to be strict in your conduct. You can maintain a healthy relationship with your team by following experts’ practices. Here are the best authoritative leadership practices you can follow:
To be an authoritative leader to your team, it is important to improve your communication skills. All the matters in the department depend on your communication skills. A flaw in communicating the tasks to the workers to update the higher management can cause serious trouble. Active listening can also help you improve your communication skills while listening to others. Consider the ideas and suggestions of your employees even if you do not find them suitable enough to follow. It gives a message that you care about your team members.
An important factor that authoritative and autocratic leaders often forget is that they must be fair to everyone on the team. While the team does not put in extra input besides the designated tasks, sometimes a few employees feel that the leaders are being unfair. Put great effort into treating everyone in the team fairly and stop anyone who tries to be the leader when following authoritative leadership.
Treat Team with Respect
Often the team members in an autocratic setup also feel like they are not respected as the leaders do not give importance to their suggestions. You may clear to the team that you are the final decision-making authority, but do not make them feel less. Enable them to express themselves and show empathy, so they do not feel disrespected or ignored.
The Bottom Line
Authoritative leadership, also known as autocratic, provides complete authority and control to the leadership only. Some advantages and disadvantages of the authoritative leadership style include increased productivity, less time consumption, clarity, less group input, and weak team engagement. Some people like working under autocratic leadership, but most find it intimidating and dictating. You may choose this leadership style if it suits the organization’s setup.
Matthew is a Co-Founder at BusinessFinanceArticles.org. Matthew was a floor manager at a local restaurant in Wales. He lost his job after the pandemic and took initiative to make a team and start the project.
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