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Authoritarian Leadership!

The essence of authoritarian leadership is “Do as I tell you, because I’m telling you to do it!” This type of leadership has the following characteristics

-The leader is mostly preoccupied with goal achievement, not the contentment or satisfaction of employees

- The leader keeps significant distance from employees

- The only way to motivate employees is through threats and punishment, rather than rewards.

Even though authoritarian leadership used to be a very popular style of leadership, it has dropped out of preference in today's age, with of course, some exclusions. Nowadays, the organizational culture is moving towards flatter structures and horizontal communication. Leaders are embracing more and more democratic, participative styles of leadership.

Why apply authoritarian leadership?

Personality has an essential role in the application of this type of  leadership. Leaders that are controlling and totalitarians are significantly predisposed to choose discipline over praise as a motivator, in order to operate effectively in very structured circumstances, and to discourage engagement of employees in decision making, problem solving, planning etc.

Organizational culture, also, plays a crucial role. Some organizations are known for practicing it . Their employees are prepared for it, and those who enroll in such organizations expect and may even choose to work under such leadership.

To a large degree the type of leadership practiced in a work environment is a feature of the employer’s viewpoint of their employees. Many managers and leaders believe that employees do not have the capacity to make decisions on their own or operate independently. Their perception is that employees are only motivated by their salaries and are lazy and not loyal.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Authoritarian Leadership

This type of leadership is sometimes useful for quick decision making. These types of decisions require precision and an expert in the niche in question to make the ultimate choice for the benefit of the company and its employees.

Authoritarian leadership is most suitable in situations in which employees are brand new and inexperienced in their jobs. It gets results best with larger groups. It also appears to be effective when precise directions or high-volume production are required. It can be appropriate in situations where time is constrained, employees challenge the leader’s authority, or a business or department has been mismanaged by a prior leader.

Authoritarian leadership is additionally beneficial when tasks regularly have to be synchronized with other departments of the company.

This type of leadership calls for the leader’s presence or his/her instructions at all times. There is no room for creativity or second-guessing.  Employees are required to precisely follow instructions without questioning them. Their performance is challenged only through simple, basic assignments. Considering that all the assignments are directed and instructed, this type of management minimizes communication issues, as the employees know what they are expected to achieve.

But authoritarian leadership has its major disadvantages. It is linked with high employee turnover rates, employee alienation and animosity. It lowers morale and decreases commitment and devotion. There is no process in place to make joint decisions or solve problems. Employee expertise is simply ignored, thus, leading to lack of respect and consideration.

This monarchic approach gives no credit to employees, no space for them to grow or become partners. Additionally, it takes away the opportunity to utilize and share experience and expertise within different levels of the organization.  All the power, the decisions, the planning are concentrated at the top. Complex tasks that require technical skills are not delegated to employees.

Authoritarian leadership is multifaceted and like all leadership choices, it must be considered cautiously and implemented sensibly, if it is used at all. 

Struggling with your leadership style?

Many leaders of small businesses my also consider furthering their education with a degree from Creighton University online.

Related Articles:

Styles of Leadership

Participative Leadership

Return from Authoritarian Leadership to Styles of Leadership

Outstanding Leaders consider themselves a work in progress
 Dr Franklin C. Ashby 

lead and learn

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Management Terms

Decentralization -
pushing power and decision making downward.

MBO - Management by Objectives.


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