What Is Autocratic Leadership?

Updated 16 March 2023

There are many leadership styles that you can employ in your workplace or on your team to increase productivity and improve communication, among other benefits. You can choose between democratic, autocratic, bureaucratic, strategic, coaching-style or transformational. Each style of leadership can be beneficial in specific workplaces, and you should choose the leadership style that works best for you and your team members. In this article, we discuss what autocratic leadership is and how you can use this style to increase productivity in your company.

What is autocratic leadership?

Autocratic leadership is a leadership style in which one person takes control of all matters in an organisation with little input from other employees. Autocrats normally make decisions based on their ideas and judgements, and they rarely accept advice or counsel from lower-level employees.

As an autocrat, your work is to delegate, oversee daily tasks and give directions to every person in your team. You may have to set short-term and long-term goals, but you should also make sure that each employee completes the delegated tasks within the timeframe.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Management Styles

Core character traits of autocratic leaders

Autocratic leaders have many important characteristics that enable them to do their jobs properly, including:

  • Motivation

  • Self-confidence

  • Clarity

  • Accountability

  • Dependability


Motivation involves encouraging yourself and others to work towards goals. Self-motivation is the internal drive that pushes people to achieve, produce, develop and keep moving forward. Autocratic leaders motivate themselves by setting personal goals or team goals that reflect highly on their ability to lead. These leaders also motivate teams with proper delegation, clear communication and an effective goal-setting and rewards system. In high-pressure situations, autocratic leaders also have to motivate their team members and help them overcome fear and other challenges.


Self-confidence means trusting your judgements and abilities. Autocratic leaders gain self-confidence through experience and training. They also must be able to instil confidence in their team members to gain their trust. For autocratic leaders in high-pressure environments, being confident in their abilities can help them make a better decision quicker, and demonstrating confidence in all situations strengthens the team's ability to follow their leader, take their orders without question and reach time-sensitive or high-stakes goals.


Being a clear and effective communicator is vital for autocratic leaders to give instructions and succeed in other important responsibilities. Autocratic leaders need to explain the information necessary for every team member to complete their tasks and understand their roles in the organisation. This leader's ability to outline the expectations and processes of completing the tasks helps ensure that the tasks are performed accordingly and as accurately and efficiently as possible.


This characteristic involves taking responsibility for a team's downfalls or their own missteps. They also hold each team member accountable for completing their assigned tasks properly.


Being dependable means being trusted to consistently meet and/or exceed expectations. Autocratic leaders are dependable because they rely on an organisation's strict rules and guidelines to establish their own teams rules, processes and goals. This helps them remain productive and efficient. Therefore, senior organisation leaders and team members can rely upon autocratic leaders to keep everyone safe and focused.

Benefits of autocratic leadership

In most cases, autocratic leadership works in places that require perfection at work, immediate decision making and situations where there may be potential security risks. There are several benefits that autocratic leaders reap by using this leadership style, including:

  • Increases productivity: In situations where employees lack proper leadership, a strong and confident autocratic leader can improve an organisation's performance with proper planning and firm deadlines. They may also provide clearer instructions, better quality standards, discipline systems and better-delegated assignments, all of which can improve individual, team and organisational productivity.

  • Streamlines decision-making: When it comes to fast-paced, high-pressure or high-risk projects, companies want leaders who can make definitive decisions fast. In such situations, an autocratic leader should be assigned to handle all important team decisions on their own. These leaders reduce the time, effort and resources it takes to make decisions by using their high level of expertise and skills to efficiently make choices that impact large groups of people or that need to be figured out quickly.

  • Improves discipline and safety: Autocratic leaders are also useful in particularly stressful situations, those that require team members to follow orders exactly and where lives or other risks may be at stake. In these cases, autocratic leaders can make complex decisions based on data, experience and instinct to ensure rules are followed, standards are met and team members and others are safe.

  • Reduces employee stress: When employees working in fast-paced and stressful environments have an autocratic leader to follow, work can be easier for them. Each member is assigned to specific tasks that have clearly defined responsibilities, standards and deadlines. There is also a set of rules and procedures to follow in each situation. Autocratic leaders enforce all rules and standards and delegate appropriately so that employees can focus just on completing their tasks well and on time.

  • Promotes direct communication: Using autocratic leadership, there are fewer leaders in the organisation. Leaders must come up with clear plans and provide all information to their employees. This simplifies the chain of command and line of communication, and if anyone needs clarification, they can be referred to the autocratic supervisor directly.

How to thrive as an autocratic leader

If you're thinking of using this leadership style or already are in an autocratic lead position, here are a few things you can do to become a better leader:

  1. Accept feedback from team members

  2. Establish clear rules

  3. Offer training

  4. Build trust early

1. Accept feedback from team members

Though you are responsible for making important decisions when the time comes, accepting feedback from team members after making a decision can help you better understand their needs and concerns, further expanding your knowledge when making decisions. It can also strengthen their trust in your decision-making abilities because you've taken them into consideration. Lastly, it reinforces that they are important to the company and its objectives.

Related: Conscientiousness: Signs You Have the Big 5 Personality Trait

2. Establish clear rules

Using the organisation's established guidelines to help you, come up with the boundaries, rules, policies and procedures for your team. Clarify the chain of command for specific scenarios or issues that come up often. When you delegate tasks, be sure to explain what each person needs to do, why and where they can find additional resources should they need them. Being as clear as possible promotes effective communication, efficiency and discipline.

3. Offer training

When managing new employees and team members, always make sure that they understand the rules you've established for the team. If an employee struggles with a task, take time to understand their challenge to better figure out how to help. They may need another team member to coach them, or they may need more formal training to complete the task properly and fill any knowledge gaps. You can make it clear in your established rules that training or coaching opportunities can be offered to ensure everyone can contribute.

4. Build trust early

As a leader, your teammates look up to you. Therefore, you need to be consistent with your promises to gain respect from your team. You should lead by following the rules that you've established. In addition to this, you can reward employees' good efforts to motivate others to work harder.

Jobs for autocratic leaders

Here are some common jobs that use autocratic leadership:

1. Prison officer

National Average Salary: £22,616 per year

Primary Duties: Prison officers are law enforcement and corrections professionals who patrol correctional institutions, secure the facilities and assist in the correction of inmates. To take charge of inmates, correction officers have to abide by the strict rules of the judicial system to protect the inmates. Supervisors and leaders must exercise autocratic leadership to ensure that employees follow the rules.

Related: Guide: Using Indeed.co.uk Job Search

2. Warehouse supervisor

National Average Salary: £23,873 per year

Primary Duties: These manufacturing and supply chain professionals manage the day-to-day operations of a warehouse, including scheduling, production, training and quality inspection. Warehouse supervisors and managers in the warehouse must use autocratic leadership styles to ensure employees properly use equipment, meet the required production goals and make high-quality products.

3. Restaurant manager

National Average Salary: £27,537 per year

Primary Duties: Restaurant managers are responsible for ensuring food is high quality, that patrons enjoy their meals and experience and that team members are adhering to local and national food safety and sanitation regulations. They may use the autocratic leadership style to set and enforce strict food preparation, disposal and serving rules.

Related: How to Find the Best Jobs for You

4. Surgeon

National Average Salary: £51,354 per year

Primary Duties: Surgeons are medical professionals who specialise in surgical procedures to inspect and/or heal the body. They work in fast-paced and high-pressure healthcare environments, leading the operations in stabilising patients, assessing emergencies and performing surgical procedures. In the operating room, they have to use autocratic leadership to delegate tasks and maintain the team's concentration. By doing this, the team can help them perform complex surgical operations with precision and care.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.


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