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What Is the Authoritarian Style?

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There are several types of leadership styles including democratic style, free-reign style, facilitative style and authoritarian or autocratic style. Effective leaders vary their leadership style to suit different situations dictated by the leadership role. Generally leadership falls into two broad categories, autocratic or free-reign leadership. Authoritarian leadership is generally given to one person.

Authoritative Decision Making

In the authoritarian leadership style, the leader is usually the expert and authority on a subject and is given the position of authority on this basis. Team members or followers must follow the leader’s orders without deviating from his decision. Team members have no part in the decision making process and the decisions are never up for debate. Authoritative decision making can be necessary in some specific situations.

Using Authoritarian Leadership

Authoritarian leadership is often required in situations where fast decisions are needed and a person is appointed in advance to take control when necessary. In such circumstances autocratic leadership is efficient because team members must follow orders without dispute. Authoritarian leadership is also used when an expert is on site and project direction requires each team member to explicitly follow orders and instructions of the expert. Predefined processes also often require authoritarian leadership, when tasks must be completed in a specific order using predefined methodology. The authoritarian directive of the leader maintains smooth running of the operations he is overseeing because he knows and directs the part each individual plays.

Emergency Situations

An authoritarian style leadership is often required in emergency situations where organization and directive is needed to avoid confusion, panic or further disaster. After natural disasters authoritarian leadership can be handed over to the military, to maintain social order, lead rescue teams and distribute emergency supplies. Dangerous emergency rescues often require authoritarian leadership to ensure safety precautions are met and the mission is successful.

Overuse of Authoritarian Leadership

Authoritarian leadership is the most misused leadership style and examples of political autocratic misuse are evident in dictatorships where the citizens' civil rights are exploited. In the corporate world there is also misuse of authoritarian leadership, where it has a negative effect on employee motivation. Authoritarian leadership should not be the predominant leadership style and should be used in moderation.