The autocratic leadership style is often identified as overly demanding with essentially a one way street of communication. The leader is seen as a dictator and is normally focused on the accomplishment of goals through force, manipulation and even threats. Decision making is not shared and the mentality utilized is “do it or else”. However, the autocratic leadership style can be effective in the right situation. In fact, virtually all leaders will have to utilize this style at some time during their career.
This is a style of leadership that can be effective if seed in the appropriate time and place. Emergency situations in the workplace that call for urgent action often require autocratic leadership. For example, if a manufacturing company receives a large order from an important customer that needs special attention in order to get filled with a quick turn-around, autocratic leadership is the answer. An autocratic leadership style will allow for a focused and directed, short term goal oriented workplace. The employees are likely to allow for this style of leadership in the situation because of the short turn-around mime.
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Communication will generally go one way – from boss to employees during this time period. The autocratic style of leadership can become stressful to employees if utilized for long periods of time. Utilized in the right time and place, the autocratic leadership style does have a place in every leader’s tool box. However, it is unlikely any leader will be effective utilizing this style as their predominant leadership style. There are examples of leaders such as Joseph Stalin who are known for this style of leadership.
They were put into a situation hat called for or allowed for a decisive, dictatorial type of decision making leader and the autocratic style of leadership proved to be effective. The autocratic leadership style is not a favored style in modern business today. It fails to allow for participation in the decision making process and the concept of a team is minimized. In addition, this style increases the stress on the workforce and contributes to poor employee morale, excessive use of sick time and employee turnover. Furthermore, effective communication ceases and goes only one way.
These are often called the symptoms of an autocratic leader. In the long term, employees will not likely respond to a leader who utilizes the autocratic leadership style in a predominant manner. Employee engagement will often hit a low or non-existent level when an autocratic leader is present in the workplace for long periods of time. Managers may be utilizing this style of leadership in an unknowing manner. Companies need to look for the symptoms of an autocratic leader and, if a change is desired, provide leadership development to the management team.