The autocratic leadership style has a bad reputation. Yet, many organizations prefer it over modern leadership styles. Traditional leaders opt for an autocratic leadership system as it is stricter and delivers quick, accurate results. However, it can also lead to a higher turnover rate as many people do not like a dictating style. Besides the advantages, the disadvantages of the autocratic leadership style are also important. Thus, make sure to weigh them both before you choose an autocratic leadership style for your organization.
What is an Autocratic Leadership Style?
An autocratic leadership style refers to an organizational system where the leader makes all the decisions. Managers in autocratic leadership do not consult their team and finalize all decisions themselves.
The major components of autocratic leadership include:
- A strong leader trusted by employees in the company
- Workers are ready to listen to their leaders.
- Employees willing to work per the standards set by the leaders
Disadvantages Of the Autocratic Leadership Style
Micromanagement has been the base of management in the past. However, now employees prefer organizational systems that free them from reporting every minor step to the managers. Unlike transformational leadership, autocratic leaders turn into micromanagers. Autocratic leaders want to ensure that every part of the process occurs according to the instructions. They believe that their reputation relies on the results. Employees feel mistrusted and suffocated as they are expected to report every activity. It may cause a decrease in productivity instead of a boost.
Lack of Trust
The most important part of a functional organizational system, project-based or any other is the leader’s trust in their employees. It gives the workers a sense of ownership and satisfaction that their manager believes in their abilities. Nevertheless, autocratic leadership is based on mistrust. The lack of trust among employees and the leadership is a barrier to sustainable relationships and a friendly working environment. It prevents the employees from suggesting solutions that may be better than the manager.
Ownership is essential for any company as it pushes the employees to work better and drive results. Contrarily, an autocratic leadership style does not offer ownership to the workers. Autocratic leaders think that giving ownership will result in a loss if the employees are not skilled enough. They believe that the employees are only supposed to work behind the curtain. Employees eventually build resentment and do not care about the company’s benefit.
When the workers wait for instructions and approvals from the managers, they cannot expect independence and innovation. Autocratic leaders expect the employees to work on the guidelines and decisions made by the higher management. The whole system will face disruption if the autocratic leader is away. Thus, the manager always has to be around to make sure everything goes smoothly.
The Leader Influences Work Culture
It is a common understanding that the leader’s behavior determines the working environment in the company. An autocratic leader may maintain a positive environment in the company by encouraging their team members. On the other hand, sometimes, they may lead to an unfair atmosphere when they prioritize high performers over others. This leadership style depends solely on the morals and values of the manager. Thus, if the autocratic leader does not have high ethics and morals, it can lead to conflicts in the organization.
The initial image of an autocratic leader comes from being responsible and accountable. However, like it is mentioned in the advantages and disadvantages of laissez-faire leadership, autocratic leadership also lacks accountability. Typically the leaders take responsibility for the high-quality work produced by the workers. In case of an issue, they may refuse to accept the blame for that task. It does not occur usually. Yet, a leader with a lack of ethics may do so.
Difficulty in Modifying Mistakes
It is quite easy to understand that autocratic leadership relies on the leader, like an authoritarian leadership style. When the leaders make all the decisions, it can be difficult to correct poor results over the long term. The most widely adopted solution to this problem includes replacing the autocratic leader or introducing a new leadership style, such as a visionary leader.
Talent Goes Unnoticed
When the leaders are too busy making decisions for the company and their implementation, they might miss out on worthy talent. Modern leadership styles like coaching leadership help bring the best potential out of the workers. Autocratic leadership does not appreciate innovation or suggestions. This constant cycle of ordering the employees and getting the work done can kill creativity in some employees. It is one of the most considerable disadvantages of the autocratic leadership style as it deprives your organization of some pure talent.
Increases Turnover Rate
What else does a company expect when they do not trust or appreciate its employees?
Autocratic leaders do not work toward the benefit of their employees, and the workers eventually reciprocate. They lose interest in daily tasks because of the monotony and master-slave relationship. They cannot innovate or make decisions on their own, making them feel useless and unwanted. Many employees leave their companies to join another where their input is valued. One example is free-rein leadership which allows the employees to make and manage decisions.
The Bottom Line
Autocratic leadership is not encouraged in modern organizational and leadership systems. Experts believe it depicts a master and slave mentality where the employees cannot decide or innovate anything. One of the most crucial disadvantages of autocratic leadership is a lack of trust in the team. The employees believe that their managers do not trust them enough to give them the freedom to make changes. It also lacks accountability, ownership, and independence. Such leadership styles lead to an increase in the turnover rate.
What are Some Advantages and Disadvantages of the Autocratic Leadership Style?
Autocratic leadership has a few advantages, like clear instructions and workplace expectations. The employees do not have to worry about the decisions. However, autocratic leaders do not give authority to their employees either.
What is a Disadvantage of Authoritarian?
The authoritarian leadership style is similar to the autocratic style and suppresses creativity. Authoritarian leaders do not take their employees’ experience of creativity into account and believe that they make the best decisions themselves. It also leads to results similar to autocratic leadership.
What is a Disadvantage of Democratic Leadership?
A democratic leadership style often depends on the team members to make decisions. The team may feel under pressure because of the need to make quick decisions sometimes. It also creates a feeling of uncertainty among the team as they wonder when they will be needed for a decision next.
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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