The Authoritarian or Autocratic Leader

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  • 0:04 Control Freaks
  • 1:03 The Authoritarian or…
  • 2:08 Benefits of the…
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

If you've ever had to deal with a boss who's a control freak, this lesson on autocratic leaders may help you see your boss in a new light. Yes, there can be advantages when one person has complete control over decision making.

Control Freaks

'It's my way or the highway.' 'If you want something done right you have to do it yourself.' 'Anything you can do I can do better.' Perhaps you have heard someone say one of these phrases before or maybe you have said one of them yourself. They all encompass this idea of control. Often regarded as control freaks, these people try to dictate anything and everything in their lives, and sometimes in the lives of others. They are often perfectionists and demand excellence from themselves and others. In management, control freaks can really cause anguish for their followers and often result in micromanagement. They tend to regard themselves as superior to others and feel that it is necessary for them to intervene continuously in the works of their subordinates to ensure that things are completed to their standards. This often leaves subordinates who resent their leader and regard them as being bossy, controlling, and dictatorial.

The Authoritarian or Autocratic Leader

Control freaks often emerge in the business environment as the authoritarian or autocratic leader. The two terms are one and the same and describe a leadership style where managers have complete control over decision making, which is the opposite of democratic leadership, where subordinates are encouraged to participate in decision making by providing their opinions, insights, and suggestions, all of which are not welcomed by the authoritarian leader. Decisions on things such as what work needs to be done, how that work will be completed and by whom are made according to what the autocratic leader believes is best.

Their decisions should not be questioned by followers; rather, they expect them to take them as the golden rule. Authoritarian leaders are meticulous planners and expect that their subordinates will trust that they have come to the best possible decision on their own without needing insight from others. Famous autocratic leaders include Martha Stewart, Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin, and Howell Raines.

The Benefits of the Authoritarian or Autocratic Leader

While some of you might be thinking that you know exactly where you would tell a boss who practiced this style of leadership to stuff it, you should know that there are some benefits to autocratic leadership. For example, the authoritarian leadership style is extremely useful when decisions need to be made quickly. There are certainly many decisions in business that need to be made on the fly and without the input of others. This is where the autocratic leader's ability to make decisions on their own is a valuable asset to an organization.

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