Autocratic Leadership – Key Characteristics, Strengths, and Weaknesses

Hitler, Genghis Khan, King Henry III, Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Elizabeth. 

To name a few, these are some of the highly authoritative figures the world has ever known. These are the emblems in the world’s political history who set the standards of autocratic leadership. Today, if we look at the corporate sector, we have emblems like Martha Stewart, Donald Trump, Howell Raines and Leona Helmsley who have certainly become quite the protagonists in the autocratic leadership. 

So what is this concept of autocratic leadership? 

Autocratic leadership is also known as the authoritative style of leadership is a special kind of leadership which favors individual control over all decision making. As the name suggests, it is the type of leadership where a single person takes up the authority of leading and does not concern himself with the group choices, their ideas or judgments. An autocratic leader makes his own decision which he finds of absolute significance. It is the type of leadership which controls an entire group. 

Just like many other leadership styles, autocratic leadership has its strengths and weaknesses. It has certain key characteristics which make this particular leadership style stand apart from other styles. 

However, a general concept that surrounds this leadership style is that autocratic leaders tend to be bossier or dictator type leaders who prefers to keep a bird’s eye view on the entire situation. 

Are you wondering where such leadership style can be really effective? Do you want to understand the Ins and Outs of the Autocratic Leadership style? Here on out, let’s learn all about this leadership style. 

Characteristics of an Autocratic Leader

Many of us are seeking to become leaders, but when it comes to adopting a particular style, we may easily find ourselves trapped in a fix. However, if you’re an autocratic more authoritative styled person, then to become such a leader, there are a few characteristics you should definitely possess.

  • You make all the important decisions 
  • You don’t consider input from team members 
  • You dictate all the working methods and processes
  • You don’t trust your teammates with important decisions
  • You have a highly structured working environment 
  • You discourage creativity and out-of-the-box thinking
  • You want to instigate rules and make sure everyone follows

If you possess all the following traits, this sets you a class apart autocratic leader from the market. 

What are the Benefits of Autocratic Leadership?

An autocratic leader may have quite the negative first impression, but they definitely have a positive impact on the wrong groups and worst situations. When there are situations where you have to make abrupt decisions, an autocratic leader can turn quite beneficial as they don’t confuse the teammates. 

Usually, such leaders don’t bother themselves with consultations with other team members. They own the project, they have the experience, it’s their resources on the line, they only care about the results.

Certain projects require strong leadership, for example, setting up an industrial plant and running its operations or leading a military coup in social war zones or manning a ship or piloting a plane. These are situations where a single wrong decision can greatly impact the outcomes and can turn the tides in the person’s favor or against him. At such occasions, strong leadership is quite the necessity.  

However, to be an autocratic leader, one must possess par excellent knowledge and a tremendous amount of field experience. If you don’t possess either, you are not the one who fits the role of an autocratic leader. As far as where such leadership style display strength is concerned, 

1) Small & Weak Groups where Leadership is Greatly Missing

Autocratic leaders are commonly required in groups where leadership is in dire need. For example, if you’re a part of a small group and nobody is moving in the right direction. Everybody wants to call the shots but nobody is prepared to take up any responsibility. Such are instances where autocratic leadership is necessary. A strong leader places individuals in correct formation and extracts the best. 

He ensures that all processes are streamlined and through his knowledge and experience, he can guide them better. It empowers the team members to work at their fullest potential and give results. 

2) Places Where Strong Pressure is Very Much Required

Another place where we can see autocratic leadership making its mark are situations under pressure. For instance, when there is some political unrest within a country or a war going on. Here autocratic leaders can take charge and particularly handle stressful situations. Under such leadership, subordinates can focus on accomplishing particular tasks with ease and without much mental effort. 

It allows the group to hone their skills and perform their active duties proficiently. Also, it provides the ultimate benefit which enables them to contribute towards the success of the entire business group. 

3) It Best Suits in Situations Where Rules are Highly Important

There are certain conditions where following the rule greatly matters. Here, it is important that you have a clear concept on what your task is and you can easily follow the rules to accomplishing them. With an autocratic leader by your side, you are able to focus on how to achieve those tasks on deadline. They make sure projects are accomplished on time and workers follow all the rules to do so. 

For example, if you’re employed at a construction site and you want to create a building, you need to ensure that your construction workers follow the rules accurately and create the perfect building. 

The Downside of Autocratic Leadership

While autocratic leadership has some astounding benefits, it also has some serious issues which certainly can’t be ignored. People who are autocratic leaders are bossy and dictatorial in nature. 

Bossiness is great for situations; however, it can create some strong resentment among subordinates. 

They have no input or no say in how things are to be done. This can turn problematic when highly skilled and fully capable members are left feeling that their experience and information is undermined.  

Some common problems with autocratic leaders are: 

1) It Discourages Inputs from Groups 

When you are under the rule of an autocratic leader, decision making becomes quite the hassle. It’s because an autocratic leader seldom pays attention to what the group is suggesting on a matter.  

They rely more on their inner intuitions and their vast amount of knowledge on handling operations. They may ask researchers to perform their research and make decisions based on those researches.

Many autocratic leaders tend to overlook the need of bringing insight from knowledgeable individuals or experts who can bring more authentic solutions to the table. Often they fail to acquire adequate consultation which immensely results in hurting the overall success of the business group.

2) It Has a Detrimental Effect on the Morality of the Group

Individuals feel happy and they perform much better when their morality levels are high. If individuals have low morale, it can seriously hurt their motivation to be productive. Many autocratic leaders do not normally allow input from team members and that can also cause a morality breakdown in teams. 

A good team is one where there exists an open culture. With autocratic leadership, open culture does not exist. 

What Should one Do to Thrive as an Autocratic Leader? 

The autocratic style of leadership is good for certain settings, and if you want to strive as an autocratic leader, there are certain things which are required for individuals to fit in the leadership role.

  • As a leader, it is your duty to establish logical, clear, concise and effective rules. 
  • As a leader, you should be able to provide proper knowledge and tools to achieve goals. 
  • As a leader, you should be a person on whom others can rely on with their tasks. 
  • As a leader, you should have the will to motivate yourself and others to achieve big. 

If you have the following traits up your sleeves, then you can definitely fulfill the role of an autocratic leadership style. This leadership style might’ve significant pitfalls but it can be quite effective in situations. If your team members have weak knowledge or they are inexperienced, such leadership style can help you to easily take over the situation and see that the objective is met in due time. 

Do you have what it takes to become an autocratic leader? Share your thoughts with us. 

4 thoughts on “Autocratic Leadership – Key Characteristics, Strengths, and Weaknesses

  • November 27, 2019 at 8:08 am

    Hey, thanks for this informative article. I must say that the autocratic leadership style works best in certain countries and places. For example, take the patriarchy form of government-induced by Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana who always wanted his country to turn in to a modern-day industrialized economy. His vision was to unify Africa and even tho he fell short of achieving it, he is still revered by all to this day. The same goes for leaders like Col. Gaddafi even though he turned against his own people. But during his regime, his own country flourished and developed to an extent none can deny.

    Certain aspects require strong decision making and it’s where the Autocratic leadership style best fits.

    • November 28, 2019 at 7:15 am

      Thank you, Fabienne for reading my article. Yes, indeed, strong autocratic leadership roles make countries a fast-paced growing economy. Take Vladimir Putin for instance. I believe Russia is seeing some great development under his astounding leadership 🙂

  • November 28, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Where do you get your information from? Lol.

    “An autocratic leader may have quite the negative first impression,”

    I am afraid that I ‘ll have to disagree with both because I myself am an autocratic leader and you’re completely wrong. My subordinates love me and follow my lead because I am always right! And certainly, my initial impression is not a negative one. Anyways, it was an informative read, thanks.

    • November 28, 2019 at 7:18 am

      Hey Iris, thank you for reading my article. I am sorry if I touched a nerve there, it wasn’t my intention. I am sure not all autocratic leaders leave a bad impression but they usually do. It’s because they want to dominate the sphere as a strong leader, and domination sometimes requires strict actions. Based on those actions, sub-ordinates can often have a negative first impression.


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