When the boss is king, no one questions his, or her, final decision. For strong leaders, the autocratic management style can be both very effective and successful in terms of high productivity. If a superior can consolidate power under his or her office, the workplace will benefit in terms of increased productivity as well as superior discipline. An effective autocratic leader actually fits perfectly in the hierarchical structure of most organizations, thus it can offer many benefits for certain businesses.
Allowing subordinates little choice in what and how tasks must be completed gives the boss an opportunity to streamline operations. When employees are required to follow a single pattern, it becomes far easier to identify systematic failures. Structure enables companies to set, analyze, and adapt policy for greater efficiency rather than polling employees. For manufacturing and other production-like business operations, autocratic rule is more beneficial as it forces workers to follow standards.
Meanwhile, a strict chain of command can translate into a strong sense of accountability. Anyone, who steps out of line or makes an error, must answer directly to his or her immediate supervisor. In turn, the misbehavior and errors of a supervisor’s charges leave him, or her, directly responsible. The result is a need to ensure everyone fulfills their responsibilities up to the executive management level. Where a systematic failure does occur, management has the opportunity to immediately identify and pressure the division for improved performance.
Furthermore, to the outside world, a united front is essential when deflecting competitors away from internal weaknesses. Although employees can disagree with the boss or offer suggestions, an autocratic executive can likely command the ranks so tightly that competitors will not be able to find cracks in the team as they fish for information. On the flip side, the ability of employees to approach a single authority enables them to voice their concerns while autocratic leaders can then move to fix these issues if need be.
On the other hand, when the boss is an unpopular or incompetent king, trouble is sure to follow. For weak leaders, the autocratic management style can be both extremely ineffective and devastating. If there is a power vacuum created by an ineffective leader blocking quality decision making from whipping the organization into shape, both productivity and discipline will suffer greatly while it will force quality leaders out of a firm. The poor autocratic management team can easily undermine a business as it fails to recognize its own weaknesses.
A poor, or weak, manager can succeed only when his or her team is able to compensate for that individual’s shortcomings. Meanwhile, some of the most innovative ideas come from the workforce as workers are the ones with the necessity to improve operations, i.e. make their work less strenuous and tedious. Autocratic styles of management can very easily streamline operations in ways that undermine the creative thinking and problem solving capacity of team members. For engineers and salesmen especially, this strict rule can force these employees into line when they need to think freely.
Taking a more individualized approach, it is important to remember employees are people. With the world embracing a trend toward democratization, individuals are socially programmed to reject a culture of autocratic rule. As most employers are adults, they also tend to resent being subjected like they are children. This is especially true in an age where information flows like water and, despite lagging school performance, even high school graduates in terms of skill are well educated to the point they feel their labor is a valuable commodity. Poor autocratic leaders will fail to compensate for this reality.
From the outside, hurting a firm may be easier when it has a single, rigid hierarchy of leaders. Undermining an autocratic leadership may well result in a collapse of the team dynamic. When employees do not trust or cannot rally around their leaders, management has no hope of succeeding. In an autocratic style environment, a narrow focus of power makes the leadership of a business more susceptible to such shortcomings and efforts to undermine their rule, especially when manage is untrustworthy and incompetent.
An autocratic management style can be beneficial to some businesses while some individual leaders may be more suited to this leadership style than others. Clearly, there are benefits, as well as shortcomings, yet a strong, narrow seat of power can benefit a business. Then again, it can also devastate a corporation or small business. Depending upon what type of operations a business undertakes and the culture of employees, an autocratic leader can be successful or fall short of expectations. Of course, it is important to remember an autocratic management style does not necessary translate into a lack of understanding, flexibility, and openness to alternatives.