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Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic)

By Kurt Lewin

Submitted by:
Katrina P. Ponce BSN4B-Group 8

In 1939, a group of researchers led by psychologist Kurt Lewin set out to identify different styles of leadership. While further research has identified more specific types of leadership, this early study was very influential and established three major leadership styles. In the study, schoolchildren were assigned to one of three groups with an authoritarian, democratic or laissez-fair leader. The children were then led in an arts and crafts project while researchers observed the behaviour of children in response to the different styles of leadership.

Autocratic leadership is an extreme form of transactional leadership, where leaders have complete power over their people. Staff and team members have little opportunity to make suggestions, even if these would be in the team's or the organization's best interest. The benefit of autocratic leadership is that it's incredibly efficient. Decisions are made quickly, and work gets done. The downside is that most people resent being treated this way. Therefore, autocratic leadership often leads to high levels of absenteeism and high staff turnover. However, the style can be effective for some routine and unskilled jobs: in these situations, the advantages of control may outweigh the disadvantages. Autocratic leadership is often best used in crises, when decisions must be made quickly and without dissent. For instance, the military often uses an autocratic leadership style; top commanders are responsible for quickly making complex decisions, which allows troops to focus their attention and energy on performing their allotted tasks and missions.

Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic) Authoritarian leaders, also known as autocratic leaders provide clear expectations for what needs to be done, when it should be done, and how it should be done. There is also a clear division between the leader and the followers. Authoritarian leaders make decisions independently with little or no input from the rest of the group. Researchers found that decision-making was less creative under authoritarian leadership. Lewin also found that it is more difficult to move from an authoritarian style to a democratic style than vice versa. Abuse of this style is usually viewed as controlling, bossy, and dictatorial. Authoritarian leadership is best applied to situations where there is little time for group decision-making or where the leader is the most knowledgeable member of the group. What Is Autocratic Leadership? Autocratic leadership, also known as authoritarian leadership, is a leadership style characterized by individual control over all decisions and little input from group members. Autocratic leaders typically make choices based on their own ideas and judgments and rarely accept advice from followers. Autocratic leadership involves absolute, authoritarian control over a group.

Characteristics of Autocratic Leadership Some of the primary characteristics of autocratic leadership include: Little or no input from group members Leaders make the decisions Group leaders dictate all the work methods and processes Group members are rarely trusted with decisions or important tasks

Benefits of Autocratic Leadership: Autocratic leadership can be beneficial in some instances, such as when decisions need to be made quickly without consulting with a large group of people. Some projects require strong leadership in order to get things accomplished quickly and efficiently. Have you ever worked with a group of students or co-workers on a project that got derailed by poor organization, a lack of leadership, and an inability to set deadlines? If so, chances are that your grade or job performance suffered as a result. In such situations, a strong leader who utilizes an autocratic style can take charge of the group, assign tasks to different members, and establish solid deadlines for projects to be finished. In situations that are particularly stressful, such as during military conflicts, group members may actually prefer an autocratic style. It allows members of the group to focus on performing specific tasks without worrying about making complex decisions. This also allows group members to become highly skilled at performing certain duties, which can be beneficial to the group. Downsides of Autocratic Leadership While autocratic leadership can be beneficial at times, there are also many instances where this leadership style can be problematic. People who abuse an autocratic leadership style are often viewed as bossy, controlling, and dictatorial, which can lead to resentment among group members. Because autocratic leaders make decisions without consulting the group, people in the group may dislike that they are unable to contribute ideas. Researchers have also found that autocratic leadership often results in a lack of creative solutions to problems, which can ultimately hurt the performance of the group. While autocratic leadership does have some potential pitfalls, leaders can learn to use elements of this style wisely. For example, an autocratic style can be used effectively in situations where the leader is the most knowledgeable member of the group or has access to information that other members of the group do not.

Leadership Styles: Autocratic Leadership

What is it?
In an autocratic leadership style, the person in charge has total authority and control over decision making. By virtue of their position and job responsibilities, they not only control the efforts of the team, but monitor them for completion often under close scrutiny This style is reminiscent of the earliest tribes and empires. Obviously, our historical movement toward democracy brings a negative connotation to autocracy, but in some situations, it is the most appropriate type of leadership. That, of course, doesnt mean a blank check to igno re the wellbeing of his subordinate.

When is it used?
The autocratic leadership style is best used in situations where control is necessary, often where there is little margin for error. When conditions are dangerous, rigid rules can keep people out of har ms way. Many times, the subordinate staff is inexperienced or unfamiliar with the type of work and heavy oversight is necessary. Rigid organizations often use this style. It has been known to be very paternalistic, and in highlyprofessional, independent minded teams, it can lead to resentment and strained morale.

Good fits for Autocratic Leadership:

Military Manufacturing Construction

How to be effective with this position:

Its easy to see the immediate goal of this type of leadership: use your expertise to get the job done. Make sure that everyone is exactly where they need to be and doing their job, while the important tasks are handled quickly and correctly. In many ways this is the oldest leadership style, dating back to the early empires. It s very intuitive to tell people what needs to be done by when. It is difficult balancing the use of authority with the morale of the team. Too much direct scrutiny will make your subordinates miserable, and being too heavy handed will squelch all group input. Being an effective autocratic leader means being very intentional about when and how demands are made of the team. Here are some things to keep in mind to be an effective when acting as an autocratic leader:

Respect your Subordinates: Its easy to end up as rigid as the rules you are trying to enforce. Its important that you stay fair and acknowledge that everyone brings something to the table, even if they dont call the shots. Making subordinates realize they are respected keeps moral up and resentment low; every functional team is built on a foundation of mutual respect. Explain the rules: Your people know they have to follow procedure, but it helps them do a better job if they know why. Be consistent: If your role in the team is to enforce the company line, you have to make sure you do so consistently and fairly. Its easy to respect someone objective, but hard to trust someone who applies policy differently in similar circumstances. Educate before you enforce: Having everyone understand your expectations up front will mean less surprises down the road. Being above board from the outset prevents a lot of miscommunications and misunderstandings. Listen, even if you dont change: We all want to feel like our opinions are appreciated, even if they arent going to lead to immediate change and being a leader means that your team will want to bring their opinions to you. Its important to be clear that they are heard, no matter the outcome.