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?
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.