Career Advice

4 Scenarios Where Autocratic Leadership Is Effective

What comes to your mind when you think of an Autocrat?

Is it a political tycoon ready to fight a war? Or a teacher with a bold mustache and a stick in his hand? Or a boss with his eyes popping out to coerce you to complete your assignment?

Intimidating personalty

That’s the mass perception of an autocratic leader. A person who is stubborn, hungry for power, and who treats his subordinates like slaves. 

Someone who would impose his decisions without asking for your opinion and is ready to punish you if you do not perform accordingly. But how accurate is this image of  Autocratic leadership? Well, an autocratic leader indeed assumes that people are naturally lazy, irresponsible, and not trustworthy. However, there are some situations where Autocratic leadership is the best way forward. With all the negative affirmations that are associated with its centralisation of power, we tend to ignore how effective it is.

I have boiled down five broad scenarios with autocratic leadership style examples where you can consider applying this leadership style. Let’s look at them one by one.

1. When dealing with people who have low self-motivation

In all organizations, some people lack the motivation to perform their best. They have a low self morale and tend to pass work on to others. If you let them be in their comfort zones, their laid-back attitude can be contagious to other employees in your organization as well.

Autocratic leadership pushes people out of their slumber. 

With a strictly no-nonsense approach, it brings in the much-needed fear factor to drive them. Through an authoritarian style of leadership, efficiency increases among such employees as the procedures and processes of the organization are precisely defined and enforced.

As an autocratic leader, you assign clear work, responsibilities, and build an atmosphere of commitment and accountability. You set up the deadlines and are able to develop a performance-oriented culture which keeps your employees on their toes.

Millennials possess a lot of passion and enthusiasm to perform, but they lack a sense of direction. You need to channelize their energy in order to bring out their full potential. If you fail to manage their zeal to work, they tend to get distracted and turn inefficient. 

Autocracy in an organisation helps you get the best of less experienced resources by giving them clear directions. You get to provide them with a purpose and groom their skills by pushing them into challenging assignments. 

It allows the leader to give straight forward instructions and define explicit methodologies. Since the inexperienced members are entirely new to the operations of your business, it becomes easier for them to interpret their tasks with these clearly described expectations.

2. When dealing with blue-collar workers

As an autocrat, your decisions are entirely individual. This technique can cause ego issues if you have people in your organization who have the skills to contribute to your decisions.

But when you are dealing with people who lack the qualifications, skills, and talent to respond to any decision-making process, the autocratic leadership style can be highly effective.

Such people can be workers, laborers, and other blue-collar employees. The reason as to why you can implement autocracy with them is that their feedback for decision-making is not going to impact the outcome. Also, giving them stern commands to complete their work is practical since they do not understand the intricacies of your business.

3. During times of emergencies or contingencies

Your business, at times, might face unforeseen situations like an unexpectedly large order with a strict timeline or emergencies like natural calamities, an economic crisis, blackouts, or disruption of communication channels.

During such abnormal circumstances, there is no time to waste. Quick and responsible decisions with swift actions are the need of the hour. You do not have the liberty to consult, discuss, and review the pros and cons of the available options.

Autocratic leadership style can come to your rescue when dealing with such exigencies. By using your power and authority as an authoritarian leader, you make people work towards achieving a common goal. You give them solid directions and coherent instructions which, in turn, helps in crisis management and implementing solutions at a rapid pace.

4. In some specific types of work environments

When you exist in work environments that require following precise specifications, and  where any deviation is unacceptable, you need to follow autocracy.

This can include professions like military, police, or fire services. Also, if your work involves a high degree of complexity or technical stuff that requires strict discipline, you need to use the attributes of the authoritarian leadership.

For instance, during surgery, or in manufacturing units or chemical factories, the outcome can be impacted by even the smallest of mistakes.

Autocratic leadership helps you reduce the risks in the businesses mentioned above by setting up protocols, manuals, and conventions that your employees are bound to follow. With an authoritarian modus operandi, you can expect subordinates to stick to the standard norms and practices, which increases safety as well as improves efficiency. 


As an autocratic leader, you need to remember that you are not supposed to ask for inputs from your subordinates for making decisions. You need to consider options and opt for the best one as per your understanding.

Therefore, you bear the responsibility and accountability for the outcome of any decision made. If something is not working, the blame will automatically fall on you.

Thus, you need to develop a high-level of expertise, in-depth knowledge of the industry, and business processes and operations to be an effective autocrat. Without these attributes, you can easily fail at establishing the authoritarian style of leadership.

What’s your opinion about the Autocratic style of leadership? Do you think there are more scenarios where it can be applied?

Do let us know in your comments below.

Career Advice

4 Effective Ways To Lead By Example

Any discussion concerning leadership qualities is incomplete without the cliched pointer that all great leaders lead by example. But it is not just great leaders but every leader – including you – who leads by example. That’s because all that you do, good or bad, is being monitored by your subordinates. They imbibe your actions and follow your example.

Hence, you need to set up the right standards through your work. All that you do is going to percolate down the hierarchy in your organization. Therefore, while motivating your employees is essential, your efforts to inspire them through positive actions are equally significant.

Let’s discuss four ways that you can use to lead by example and impact  your behavior effectively.

1. Success belongs to the team

Former President of India, Doctor APJ Abdul Kalam, once mentioned how his superior led by example during the launch of SLV3 satellite. 

When the mission failed in 1979, the then Chairman of ISRO, Mr. Satish Dhawan, took responsibility for the failure. He faced tough questions from the media in a press conference and displayed trust in his team.

However, the next year when the mission was successful, he asked his team to attend the press conference and take credit for the triumph.

That’s how you need to perform as a leader.

 You need to own failures and share the success with your team. When you take up any failure head-on and step back in times of success, you gain the respect of your employees. They look up to you and try to follow your suit.  

2. Follow your rules

You need to ‘walk the talk’ as a leader. Imagine Mahatma Gandhi, a preacher of non-violence, getting involved in physical abuse. If that had happened, his followers would have been disappointed and resorted to violence themselves. Similarly, only when you abide by your rules, will people follow them. 

For instance, if you want to restrict your employees from using social media during working hours, you should not scroll through them yourself.

Contrarily, if you practice double standards – make rules for the team and not apply them to yourself- your subordinates will feel betrayed. You will lose their trust, and they will develop a negative attitude towards your guidelines

3. Take responsibility: Get your hands dirty

If you follow the ‘Do as I say and not as I do’ philosophy, you will opt for the hands-off approach i.e., you may delegate complex tasks to your subordinates and wait for them to solve things. In cases like these, your subordinates are bound to feel that you are not contributing enough, or that you lack sufficient knowledge.

On the other hand, if your team witnesses you participating in complicated matters and finding solutions to tough problems, they will be inspired to take up challenging assignments as well.

Hence it is imperative that you push your limits and not hesitate to take up the cumbersome tasks yourself.

When you are ready to get into the minor details and solve the problems yourself, you get closer to the business needs. This helps you get a better perspective of solving existing issues and generating new ideas. 

4. Listen to your team

When you are open to discussions with your employees, you get exposed to great ideas through brainstorming. A piece of advice from them about the processes and methods has the potential to make a big difference. Moreover, it makes them feel valued as they are able to contribute to the growth of your organization.

When your employees are sure that you will listen to them, they are more likely to follow your lead. The management of Jack Welch of General Electric is a classic example of how removing barriers to open communication can lead to productive outcomes. 

 Jack allowed everyone in GE to brainstorm and think of ideas instead of waiting for someone higher up in the organization. He promised to listen to anyone in the company who has something to suggest that could make the company better. This resulted in employees following his lead and developing a culture that nurtured the growth of GE under his management.


If you expect people to follow your lead, you need to set up the right examples. 

Your employees look up to you and are influenced by your actions rather than by your words. They take a cue from what you do and try to emulate it. 

Remember, the best motivation for your followers is always your individual work. When you take charge and show your employees what’s possible, they feel ‘If he can do it, we can do it too.’ If you exhibit the best in you, your employees, too, will give their best to everything they do. 

Do you have more ways to add to our list of how to lead by example? Do let us know in your comments.