- An autocratic leader (boss-centred) is one who tends to centralize authority and derives power from the position, control of rewards and coercion. The autocratic leadership style is considered the classical approach where much power and decision making authority remains with the manager. Employees are neither consulted nor allowed to give any input but are expected to obey instructions without any explanations. This type of leadership is used in situations where the task is relatively simple or decisions have to be made quickly. This leadership style can result in low staff morale and has been greatly criticized during the past 30 years. Some studies say that organizations with many autocratic leaders have higher turnover and absenteeism than other organizations.
- Autocratic leadership is best applied to situations where there is little time for group decision-making or where the leader is the most knowledgeable member of the group. Normally this style should only be used on rare occasions. To gain more commitment and motivation from employees, you would best adapt to a more participative leadership style.
- Contrary to the autocratic leader, a democratic leader is one who delegates authority to others, encourages participation, relies on subordinates’ knowledge for completion of tasks and depends on subordinate respect for influence. Democratic leadership is participatory with authority often delegated to others. The democratic leader keeps his or her employees informed about everything that affects their work and shares decision making and problem-solving responsibilities. This sort of leadership can produce high quality and high quantity work for long periods of time. This is because employees enjoy the trust they receive and respond to cooperation, team spirit and high morale.
- While Democratic leadership has been described as the most effective leadership style, it does have some potential downsides. In situations where roles are unclear or time is of the essence, democratic leadership can lead to communication failures and uncompleted projects. In some cases, group members may not have the necessary knowledge or expertise to make quality contributions to the decision-making process.