Differences Between Autocratic & Democratic Leadership

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Running a business or other organization requires many things, such as drive and organizational skills. It also requires leadership ability. There are two main approaches to leadership, autocratic and democratic. Which you use to an extent depends on the circumstances of your organization, as each type has defining characteristics.

Quick Decisions

One of the primary advantages of an autocratic approach to leadership is decisions generally get made much more quickly. In a more democratic process, consultations and reviews often slow down the momentum required to make rapid choices and arrive at a solution. An autocratic leadership style works best in situations where rapid decisions are often essential, such as in the military or law enforcement.

Poor Decisions

The flip side of an ability to make quick decisions is it is more likely salient points or even different approaches to a problem will be overlooked. This is partly because the leader is unlikely to have as much information as the entire group. He or she will also come to every issue with a preset perspective, while someone else might be able to make an intuitive leap that would never occur to him or her.

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Comfortable Work Environment

Democratic leadership styles tend to result in a happier work environment. A worker who is consulted about his or her opinions by the employers before decisions are made will feel more a part of the company. This in turn makes the employee more apt to go the extra mile for the company. Conversely, an employee who feels that he or she is little more than a cog in the machine is more likely to do the job well only when the boss is right there.


One major advantage a democratic approach has over an autocratic one is employees in the latter system have little opportunity to develop leadership abilities themselves. This might be fine up until the day their superior quits, gets fired or transfers. Suddenly, from the people who have until now been sheep, a shepherd will have to be selected, with generally predictable results.

About the Author

Daniel Ketchum holds a Bachelor of Arts from East Carolina University where he also attended graduate school. Later, he taught history and humanities. Ketchum is experienced in 2D and 3D graphic programs, including Photoshop, Poser and Hexagon and primarily writes on these topics. He is a contributor to sites like Renderosity and Animotions.

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