The Qualities of an Autocratic Leader

by WayneS ; Updated September 26, 2017
Autocratic leaders take charge and rarely listen to the ideas of others.

Leadership styles tend to reflect a person’s personality. They can also be determined by the needs of the organization. A company going through a difficult period may need a firm hand. However, leadership doesn't always come with rank: Sometimes leaders emerge through their charisma or abilities. Autocratic leadership is a style that became popular in the 1950s and is often still used.

Decision Making

Autocratic leaders tend to make decisions themselves. They rarely relegate authority or ask for advice, preferring to take a hands-on approach. Autocrats also take responsibility for their decisions. They like things done their way and prefer employees who are good at following instructions. Collaboration is at a minimum, and those who question decisions may be seen as disloyal or incompetent. Autocrat leaders are unlikely to spend much time thinking about or trying to improve their management style. They prefer working at the task at hand and getting things done.


This style can be very effective when working on short-term projects that need to be completely quickly, especially when the projects are complex or technical. It's also an effective style when there are a lot of employees working on a variety of tasks, giving the manager little time to devote to each employee. In such situations, it's much easier to just have one manager take charge. This is also an effective style in industries where workers have low-level skills and perform monotonous tasks. Companies that have high turnover also find this style effective: They have little reason to waste time and resources on managers who come and go.

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An advantage to using this style is that it can reduce stress on employees. With one person in charge, employees have to make fewer decisions. They also know exactly what's expected of them and who's in charge. Also, because employees know who's in charge, they tend to be very productive while the manager is around. Another benefit is that decisions are made quickly and problems are solved right away. This is an advantage when working on tight deadlines.


The major disadvantage is the lack of collaboration. Although decisions can be made quickly, this style increases the likelihood that poor decisions will be made. The knowledge and expertise of others is often wasted. This style also hinders the development of others. Employees and other managers often fail to learn and grow under this style and are unable to take charge when needed. It can also hurt morale: People usually don't like being ordered around. This is especially a problem when others think the autocratic leader is wrong.

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