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Autocratic Leadership Style: Pros & Cons in the Workplace - HRDQ

Autocratic Leadership Style: Pros & Cons in the Workplace

Every superior has a different style for leading their team. Many take a collaborative approach, some emphasize delegation, and others enact total control. If you fall under the autocratic leadership style, it’s important to know the pros and cons of this approach in the workplace so you can become a better, more accommodating boss to your employees.

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What is Autocratic Leadership Style?

Autocratic leadership is better known as authoritarian leadership. With this approach, a supervisor has complete control over a group and the decisions made for that group—an autocratic leader rarely requires input or suggestions from their team. You are likely an autocratic leader if:

  • You make all of the important decisions on your own
  • You have a very structured work environment
  • You set and maintain strict rules and processes
  • You are a no-nonsense individual

Pros of Autocratic Leadership

Here are the benefits of an autocratic leader:

  • Quick decision-making skills. Those who are autocratic leaders often have exceptional decision-making abilities. This is especially important in high-stress situations where a resolution needs to be established immediately.
  • Keeps cool under pressure. Those with autocratic leadership styles easily keep their cool under pressure. And, since they take on the responsibility of handling stressful decisions, they also ensure no other employee must face high-risk situations.
  • Gets weak groups on track. When a team is struggling due to lack of direction and poor organization, authoritarian leaders can quickly get weak groups back on track by setting a definitive goal and providing the exact methods that will get them there.
  • Apparent chain of command. If something of importance arises, it’s very clear to employees who they need to bring the issue, decision, or information up with.

Con of Autocratic Leadership

Here are the weaknesses of an autocratic leader:

  • Causes mistrust. Building trust in the workplace is essential for fostering a positive and productive environment. The authoritative nature of autocratic leaders discourages open communication with their superior, which ultimately leads to mistrust.
  • Decreases morale. Since autocratic leaders usually do not allow their employees to make independent decisions, it can cause them to feel incompetent. A great work environment should lift employees up, not put them down.
  • Inhibits creativity. Employees are not encouraged to provide input and feedback to their authoritarian superiors, which inhibits creativity and can even suppress an employee’s expertise and valuable skills.
  • Only works in very particular work environments. There are few environments in which authoritarian leadership really works. Jobs that require strict structure and adherence to rules will primarily reap the benefits of this leadership style.

Who it Works For

Although there are both pros and cons to an autocratic leadership style, there are certain individuals with the following characteristics who respond quite positively to this approach:

  • Value and enjoy following rules
  • Prefer a consistent work routine
  • Don’t like taking risks
  • Are cautious decision-makers
  • Believe that if a method works, there’s no reason to change it
  • Believe that you should be satisfied with what you have

Flexing your Style

In order to be a truly great boss, you need to learn how to “flex” your leadership style to accommodate all of your employees, not just the ones that prefer your autocratic approach. “Flexing” refers to the ability to recognize the communication style a person best responds to, and then adjusting your communication method to meet their needs.

Learning how to flex takes time, training, and practice. However, here are just a few tips that autocratic leaders can start implementing today to better accommodate their employees and create a more positive work environment:

  • Remember to give your team praise. Morale and motivation deplete rapidly when you only call people out for their mistakes. Make sure that you give praise when praise is due to keep your employees feeling happy and proud of their work.
  • Offer your assistance. By making yourself available to your employees, you’ll not only foster better communication (hence eliminating mistrust), but you’ll be able to provide them with the tools to get the job done right.
  • Listen to your employees. Even if you don’t end up taking your employees’ suggestions, you want to ensure that they feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns.

Get Started with HRDQ Today!

As you can see, there are both pros and cons of implementing an autocratic leadership style in the workplace. But, in order to grow and improve as a superior, it’s important to thoroughly understand your leadership style and learn how to flex it to meet the needs of your employees.

To start leading your team even better before, explore HRDQ’s Style Suite for training materials that will assist you in developing your managerial skills. Soon, you and your team will be working together flawlessly to increase productivity, efficiency, and communication.

Explore the HRDQ Style Suite

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.