Autocratic Leadership Style

Autocratic leadership style is often considered the classical approach. It is one in which the manager retains as much power and decision-making authority as possible. The manager does not consult employees, nor are they allowed to give any input. Employees are expected to obey orders without receiving any explanations. The motivation environment is produced by creating a structured set of rewards and punishments.


This leadership style has been greatly criticized during the past 30 years. Some studies say that organizations with many autocratic leaders have higher turnover and absenteeism than other organizations. Certainly Gen X employees have proven to be highly resistant to this management style.


Studies say that autocratic leaders:

-Rely on threats and punishment to influence employees

-Do not trust employees

-Do not allow for employee input


Yet, autocratic leadership is not all bad. Sometimes it is the most effective style to use.


Autocratic leadership style is effective when:

-New, untrained employees who do not know which tasks to perform or which procedures to follow

-Effective supervision can be provided only through detailed orders and instructions

-Employees do not respond to any other leadership style

-There are high-volume production needs on a daily basis

-There is limited time in which to make a decision

-A manager's power is challenged by an employee

-The area was poorly managed

-Work needs to be coordinated with another department or organization


The autocratic leadership style should not be used when:

-Employees become tense, fearful, or resentful

-Employees expect to have their opinions heard

-Employees begin depending on their manager to make all their decisions

-There is low employee morale, high turnover and absenteeism and work stoppage