Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic leadership, also known as authoritarian leadership, is a leadership style characterized by individual control over all decisions and little input from group members. Autocratic leaders typically make choices based on their ideas and judgments and rarely accept advice from followers. Autocratic leadership involves absolute, authoritarian control over a group.

Like other leadership styles, the autocratic style has both some benefits and some weaknesses. While those who rely on this approach to heavily are often seen as bossy or dictator-like, this level of control can have benefits and be useful in certain situations.

When and where the authoritarian style is most useful can depend on factors such as the situation, the type of task the group is working on, and characteristics of the team members. If you tend to utilize this type of leadership with a group, learning more about your style and the situations in which this style is the most effective can be helpful.


–   Some of the primary characteristics of autocratic leadership include.

–   Allows little or no input from group members

–   Requires leaders to make almost all of the decisions

–  Provides leaders with the ability to dictate work methods and processes

–  Leaves group feeling like they aren’t trusted with decisions or important tasks

–  Tends to create highly structured and very rigid environments

–  Discourages creativity and out-of-the box thinking

–  Establishes rules and tends to be clearly outlined and communicated


 The autocratic style tends to sound quite negative. It certainly can be when overused or applied to the wrong groups or situations. However, autocratic leadership can be beneficial in some instances, such as when decisions need to be made quickly without consulting with a large group of people.

Some projects require strong leadership to get things accomplished quickly and efficiently. When the leader is the most knowledgeable person in the group, the autocratic style can lead to fast and effective decisions. The autocratic leadership style can be useful in the following instances:

Provides Direction

 Autocratic leadership can be effective in small groups where leadership is lacking. Have you ever worked with a group of students or co-workers on a project that got derailed by poor organization, a lack of leadership and an inability to set deadlines?

If so, the chances are that your grade or job performance suffered as a result. In such situations, a strong leader who utilizes an autocratic style can take charge of the group, assign tasks to different members, and establish solid deadlines for projects to be finished.

These types of group projects tend to work better when one person is either assigned the role of leader or simply takes on the job on their own. By setting clear roles, assigning tasks, and establishing deadlines, the group is more likely to finish the project on time and with everyone providing equal contributions.

Relieves Pressure

This leadership style can also be used well in cases where a great deal of pressure is involved. In situations that are particularly stressful, such as during military conflicts, group members may prefer an autocratic style.

This allows members of the group to focus on performing specific tasks without worrying about making complex decisions. This also allows group members to become highly skilled at performing certain duties, which is ultimately beneficial to the success of the entire group.

Offers Structure

Manufacturing and construction work can also benefit from the autocratic style. In these situations, it is essential that each person have a clearly assigned task, a deadline, and rules to follow.

Autocratic leaders tend to do well in these settings because they ensure that projects are finished on time and that workers follow safety rules to prevent accidents and injuries.


 While autocratic leadership can be beneficial at times, there are also many instances where this leadership style can be problematic. People who abuse an autocratic leadership style are often viewed as bossy, controlling, and dictatorial. This can sometimes result in resentment among group members.

Group members can end up feeling that they have no input or say in how things or done, and this can be particularly problematic when skilled and capable members of a team are left feeling that their knowledge and contributions are undermined. Some common problems with autocratic leadership:

 Discourages Group Input

 Because autocratic leaders make decisions without consulting the group, people in the group may dislike that they are unable to contribute ideas. Researchers have also found that autocratic leadership often results in a lack of creative solutions to problems, which can ultimately hurt the group from performing.Autocratic leaders tend to overlook the knowledge and expertise that

group members might bring to the situation. Failing to consult with other team members in such situations hurts the overall success of the group.

Hurts Morale

Autocratic leadership can also impair the morale of the group in some cases. People tend to feel happier and perform better when they feel like they are making contributions to the future of the group. Since autocratic leaders typically do not allow input from team members, followers start to feel dissatisfied and stifled.


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Organizational Behavior by Icfai Business School is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.