The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the term “autocratic leadership” is the sweat shop of the late eighteen hundreds. Thankfully, those days are gone and the workers of today have rights that were unheard of during that time. The autocratic leader may also go the way of the sweat shop as many consider this style to be old school and counter-productive.
Autocratic leadership may still be relevant in situations where safety is a concern and immediate decisions could save lives. It may also be necessary when employing unskilled workers who need direct supervision. For most of us though, autocratic leadership can lead to problems in the workplace for the following reasons.
Inhibited creativity – Creating thinking is fun and exciting. When employees are encouraged to look for ways to improve the company they feel empowered and appreciated. Autocratic leaders can stifle this creativity by not accepting input or feedback.
Trust – Employees feel as if they are not trusted to perform their job requirements without someone standing over their shoulder. It’s demeaning to be treated as if you don’t have the mental skills or work ethic to complete tasks on your own or to be part of decision making processes.
Absenteeism – Workers who don’t feel valued and are unhappy in the workplace may dread getting out of bed in the morning and any excuse to call in sick may be too tempting to pass up.
Higher Turnover – Training new employees can be a slow and expensive process. A working environment that makes other job opportunities look more attractive will increase employee turnover. Company loyalty is compromised without good leadership.
Resentment – The old saying “two heads are better than one” is often true in business. A good leader knows that the decision is ultimately theirs, but will listen and weigh all options before making the final call. When workers are not involved in the decision making process they can become resentful. This is particularly true when a poor decision could have been avoided had they been consulted.
Autocratic leadership still exists today even though most companies agree that it’s not a good leadership style. Some may turn a blind eye or aren’t aware that it’s being practiced within their company. Employees may have difficulty complaining about autocratic leadership because the leader is not abusive, and technically only asking them to do the job they’re being paid for. Still, it has been proven that employees who are empowered and feel like part of the team are happier, more productive and have more loyalty than those who are working for the autocratic leader.
Question: Have you ever worked for an Autocratic Leader?