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What is Autocratic Leadership? - Characteristics, Benefits, Examples

05th Jun, 2024
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    What is Autocratic Leadership? - Characteristics, Benefits, Examples

    To run any organization, state, or even nation, you need to have a system in place for efficient and effective management. In the system, a top spot can be called a 'leader' loosely. However, leadership depends on different leadership styles. For example, many leaders follow the democratic style of leadership. On the contrary, several people for whom autocratic leadership fits best.

    What Is Autocratic Leadership Definition?

    There are several autocratic leadership meanings. First, autocratic leadership is a rather popular form of leadership, which is growing daily. Here, its power is on the one hand and not decentralized like democratic leadership. But on the other hand, the power is centralized, and only a single individual is in charge of the decision-making, which is heavily influenced by his or her ethics and values. To explain it more briefly, autocratic or authoritarian leadership style is a type of style that sees direct control over the business or organization by an individual who oversees every little input and is the sole decision maker, which is usually made without consulting his fellow teammates or employees.

    There are autocratic leadership styles in places and organizations where there usually is little to no room for error, or any error can prove dangerous and fatal. Here's an autocratic leadership example. A business that is slowly plunging into crisis can be helped a lot if autocratic leadership is set in place for its top management or topmost leadership post.

    Characteristics of Autocratic Leadership

    Characteristics of Autocratic Leadership

    There's a certain stereotype that fits autocratic leaders pretty well. They are considered to be serious, rude, and obnoxious. Nevertheless, some pretty great characteristics in autocratic leaders are required to lead. They are as follows-


    When you are an autocratic leader, you should have self-confidence so that the people you expect to follow you should also feel confident and instill their faith in you. When confidence is showcased positively, it is deemed desirable. However, in many cases, such as in meetings, the leader tends to get overconfident, which is a bad sign. It leaves no room for discussion and innovative ideas to be discussed, which is not healthy for the company.


    In autocratic leadership, whatever the result of any task is, the leader is responsible for it. Whether good or bad, the leader is solely responsible for it and gets due appreciation or criticism. Being accountable for your actions will also make more dependable on you.


    As we know, the top head, who is an autocratic leader, is the one who takes the final call on any task. They lay out the workplace conditions to avoid overlapping rules and attain maximum efficiency. However, not all leaders restrict the creativity or innovation of their teammates. If they do so, there is a higher chance of the employees leaving the company.


    As you know, autocratic leaders are the ones who call the shots in the end, so all the successes and failures are also named among them. Therefore, they hold the responsibility, criticism as well as appreciation for the outcome of any task. While a good team leader will appreciate their team members where it's due, there can also be instances where they do not get the credit they deserve. This can be the deal breaker for whether the trust is there.


    Generally, a fixed structure is usually followed by autocratic leaders while performing or undergoing any task. This also talks a lot about the work environment and the work culture of that particular workplace. Usually, under an autocratic leader, the workplace is structured in such a way that it is overly strict and not very flexible.


    An autocratic leader is driven by motivation because he is the sole decision-maker of the company. Due to this, the result of the decision, whether positive or not, is solely the responsibility of the leader in place. This motivates him to do any task at his full potential because the Tasks and decisions feel personal.

    Now we'll understand autocratic leadership's advantages and disadvantages in the following paragraphs.

    Advantages of Autocratic Leadership

    1. Faster decision-making

    If we talk about an autocratic leadership style in an organization, the biggest advantage to talk about is that it has the quickest decision-making among all leadership styles. This is because here, the decision of only one person is to be considered and that sole person calls the shots.

    2. Quick crisis management

    It is said that an autocratic leadership style is best suited for times of crisis. In the democratic style, there is a lengthy and time-consuming decision-making process system kept in place, so it is not as efficient as the autocratic style in crises, where we need quick management and decisions to control the damage.

    3. Reduces employee stress

    In an autocratic work environment, the employees are not bound to make any decisions, which helps them channel their time and energy toward the tasks they are directed to perform. This takes away a huge amount of stress from the employees.

    4. Direct Communication

    Usually, an autocratic leader communicates with his teammates and employees directly, which is not done in the democratic leadership style. This medium of direct communication takes away any room for error in communication. It allows both parties to talk and discuss any task one-on-one, resulting in clearer communication.

    5. Improves productivity and efficiency

    Due to employees not having to make crucial decisions and just do what they are asked to do, they can put their time and energy into the task they are asked to perform, thus improving their productivity. By this, they are also able to save precious time.

    6. Workload

    When autocratic leadership is set in place in any workplace, the employees generally have less stress about what to do next as their leader directs everything. This way, they are usually motivated to work more. Also, if the employees are given prizes or other forms of recognition, it instills motivation, pushing them to work harder.

    Disadvantages Of Autocratic Leadership

    1. High dependence

    Since the leader makes all the decisions, the employees might find themselves lost in making decisions or handling crises in their absence.

    2. The threat of micromanagement

    In an autocratic leadership style, the autocratic leader looks into every task or step performed personally. Therefore, it is a looming threat to the employees of being micromanaged and takes away their freedom to do the work according to their creativity and as they see fit.

    3. Lack of creativity

    As we discussed above, the autocratic leader may micromanage things that take away the employee's creativity. Nevertheless, the autocratic leader has a structure set in place which is to be followed by employees regardless of whether they are being micromanaged. This, too, takes away creativity from the employees.

    4. Discouragement of employees

    There are fewer meetings in this setup because it is usually not required. However, this discourages the employees from using their innovation and creativity in any task.

    5. Effects on work culture

    An autocratic person sets up a workplace as he sees fit. Generally, this harms the workplace as the structure is set in place by the autocratic leader himself without asking or considering the advice or suggestions of the employees who are expected to work in the workplace.

    6. Lack of Ownership 

    In autocratic leadership, leaders tend to take credit for all the work which leads to team members not taking ownership of their work. For long run in a company, this leads to a decrease in employee morale.

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    Examples Of Autocratic Leadership 

    Though a controversial leadership style, many leaders worldwide, both in the past and present, have opted for authoritarian leadership and set up an autocratic work environment in their workplace. Their biggest argument about the benefits of autocratic leadership is that this allows them to work more efficiently; thus, the company's results are better.

    In the case of leaders leading empires in history, an autocratic leadership style used to do that simply because they had a certain ideology and beliefs in place, which they thought were needed in the nation.

    In both of the above cases, autocratic leadership styles were/are also kept in place because, according to them, such leadership is required for better management of their respective company or empire.

    Some of the most famous autocratic leaders in history are Bill Gates of Microsoft, Napoleon Bonaparte of the French Empire, Adolf Hitler of the German Empire, Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX, and Howell Raines of The New York Times.

    Bill Gates

    The CEO of one of the most successful companies in the world, Gates was a mix of an autocratic and democratic leader. He knew the importance of having input from his teammates, but on the other hand, he was the master delegator of every task.

    Napoleon Bonaparte

    The French Revolution military leader was known for his infamous autocratic leadership style. He commanded a huge army and, later, an entire nation comprising millions of people without sharing his ideas or military tactics with anyone. However, his tactics worked, and he became one of the greatest military leaders in history.

    Adolf Hitler

    For obvious reasons, the dictator who went down in history as one of the most brutal authoritarian leaders was an autocratic leader. He ruled the German empire and later went on a conquest to capture the entire continent of Europe with his authoritarian leadership style. His beliefs, values, and ethics were the sole reason for the beginning of world war 2.   

    Elon Musk

    The SpaceX and Tesla CEO is an autocratic leader in both of his companies who have garnered tremendous growth and success to its name. He often makes impulse decisions that team members haven't vetted.

    Howell Raines

    The New York Times executive editor is another great example of autocratic leadership. He is a typical case of how an autocratic style can be leveraged positively in an extremely highly demanding industry.


    Autocratic leadership, although sounding intimidating and wrong, can have its perks just as much as it can have rightful disadvantages. There is centralization of power and decision-making, which helps a lot in times of crisis. Also, in normal times, the lack of online education and coordination among fellow teammates can very well result in an unpleasant, dangerous situation. This is avoided when authoritarian leadership in the work environment is maintained. The lack of listening to others' input and criticism fosters distrust and a lack of motivation, which keeps you away from important aspects of growth and can be fatal and just as dangerous as not having autocratic leadership in times of crisis. To gain in-depth knowledge on this topic, take up the KnowledgeHut online education on autocratic leadership.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What is an autocratic leadership style?

    An Autocratic leadership style is where the leader runs the organization based on their liking, which is heavily influenced by their personal belief, motives, and values. They tend to micromanage things and supervise everything on a personal level. Here, the decision-making is done rather quickly.   

    2Why is autocratic leadership good?

    There are several advantages of autocratic leadership: it helps in Faster decision-making, Quick crisis management, Enhanced productivity, Reduced employee stress, Direct Communication, Improved productivity and efficiency and contributes to better Controlling.  

    3What is the difference between autocratic and democratic leadership?

    Autocratic leadership is a type of leadership where the leader solely makes all the decisions, and his teammates have to become followers and accept the decision. Whereas, Democratic leadership translates to a type of leadership in which the leader shares decision-making power and other responsibilities with fellow group members. 

    4How does autocratic leadership affect motivation?

    Autocratic leadership negatively affects the employee or teammates' motivation and makes them less motivated as they are not allowed to participate at a certain level.

    5Where is autocratic leadership used?

    Generally, autocratic leadership is used to head nations or lead huge businesses.


    Abhresh Sugandhi


    Abhresh is specialized as a corporate trainer, He has a decade of experience in technical training blended with virtual webinars and instructor-led session created courses, tutorials, and articles for organizations. He is also the founder of Nikasio.com, which offers multiple services in technical training, project consulting, content development, etc.

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