In the world of leadership, the authoritarian style of leading is a formidable force that is often characterized as a top-down approach. This style is one where the decision flow goes through the leader exclusively.
This commanding approach, as with anything has its upsides and downsides. Its natural structure can be subject to celebration and critique. Join us and see if the authoritarian leadership style is the right choice for you to implement in your workplace, the pitfalls and the advantages of having it, and if it can actually support you on your way to success.
Table of Contents
What Is Authoritarian Leadership Style?
First and foremost, let’s take a look at the definition of the authoritarian approach. The authoritarian leadership style is at its core a centralized decision-making process. The leader is directly giving instructions to their team and does not leave space for input or feedback in this approach as opposed to a democratic leadership style.
There is often strict control over any tasks, goals, or anything else related to the company’s business choices. In this case, the leader is highly independent and expects their team to follow suit on whatever their decisions are.
As you can already likely tell, the roots of this strict approach is a very hierarchical job architecture, one where decisions are usually quite efficient yet can also create an environment that lacks creativity and bears the risk of an uninspired community.
The Characteristics of Authoritarian Leadership Style
Let’s break down the characteristics of this formidable approach and make sure that you can spot it whenever wherever.
- Centralized Decision-Making: As we already mentioned, this is the main point of an authoritarian leadership style. In this approach, leaders have the only control over decision-making processes.
- Clear Hierarchy: Authoritarian leadership comes from the traditional hierarchical approach that we’re all familiar with and one thing about this approach is that the organizational structure is as clear as day for everyone in the company.
- Obedience: Employees working under an authoritarian leader will obey the leader’s directives and follow the rules set by the leader. There is a strong emphasis on compliance in this leadership style.
- Limited Input: Since authoritarian leaders typically make decisions on their own swiftly, they do not require nor encourage any input from their team. This leaves the team with little to no feedback opportunities and the chance of collaborative decision-making is eliminated.
- Direct Communication: While communication is not a back-and-forth practice in this leadership style, it also means that the communication that is made is very straightforward and clearly directed to who is meant to receive it.
- Task Orientation: The primary focus of an authoritarian leader is to accomplish tasks and goals as effectively as possible. This does not leave much space for any personal relationships in the team and anything with regard to personal or emotional well-being will be secondary.
Overall, the authoritarian leadership style is one that holds sole control and delegates clearly any tasks or directives to their subordinates. While there is almost no feedback allowed, it can also be highly effective in an environment with a high demand in fast decisions.
The Pros & Cons of Authoritarian Leadership Style
Like the clearcut nature of this leadership approach, the advantages and disadvantages of authoritarian leadership can seem clear to you already just by looking at its characteristics. But just in case it isn’t, here is a comprehensive list of the good and the bad of the authoritarian leadership style.
The Pros of Authoritarian Leadership
- Efficiency: One major benefit of this approach is how fast you can make decisions with an authoritarian leader. Since they have sole control of the output, there is only one person’s time required to come to a conclusion instead of a whole team.
- Clear Direction: The structural hierarchy in this style gives clear information about the division of the workforce in a team. There is no doubt who is making decisions and who is doing certain tasks because there are clear directives on all fronts.
- Discipline: The core of this approach fosters an environment of order and control. This way there is little to no room for possible conflicts arising.
- Centralized Control: In a similar way to efficiency, centralization means that there is swift coordination in the organization and stable control.
- Consistency: The authoritarian leadership style will automatically establish consistency in their way of working as there is that sole person in control.
The Cons of Authoritarian Leadership
- Limited Innovation: The strictness of having one decision-maker makes it likely that the conclusions become redundant over time as there is nobody else contributing with different perspectives.
- Low Motivation: Employees working under this leadership style may feel disempowered and demotivated to perform tasks as there is a strict lack of autonomy.
- Poor Communication: Streamlined communication can also be a double-edged sword. If not performed effectively by the leader, this top-down communication might end up hindering the flow of information in the team.
- Turnover: This leadership style can also lead to resistance from employees and this bears the risk of employee turnover if the people in the team are dissatisfied and demotivated.
- Micromanagement: Authoritarian leaders can be prone to micromanaging their team as they are the only ones overseeing the tasks and goals. This can hurt employee growth processes and in turn negatively affect employee satisfaction, possibly leading to employee disengagement.
Overall, it is up to you to see if there pros and cons are worth the implementation of this style into your workspace. Depending on your unique conditions within your market and industry, it can be a very beneficial thing to have an authoritarian leader on your team.
Tools For Authoritarian Leaders
Before we end this post, here are our suggestions for tools that you can use if you are a democratic leader:
If you want to have a strong tool at work that can help you set clear tasks and goals for your team, Teamflect is the one!
Teamflect will assist you with goal setting, customized tasks and meetings, automated goal check-ins, detailed goal tracking reports, and so much more. It is an all-in-one performance management solution that will make sure you and your team thrive, on your direct way up!
Use Teamflect inside Microsoft Teams today and get after your goals effectively!