Difference Between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership (With Table)

Being able to lead, inspire and motivate a group of people to achieve a common goal is an enormous task. A leader must possess both personality and leadership skills to make others follow his/her cause.

It has nothing to do with titles, seniority, or personal attributes. Autocratic or monothetic leadership practices the centralization of power. On the other hand, the democratic leadership gives liberty to other parties or group to make a decision.

Autocratic vs Democratic Leadership

The difference between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership is the authority they proceed. Autocratic leadership is centralized. Whereas the democratic is exactly the opposite, it is decentralized. The autocratic has a high level of control over the subordinates. Conversely, democratic leadership has less command as compared to the former. The followers of the autocrats are obedient, uneducated, and unskilled. On the other side, followers of democrats are professional and experienced.

Comparison Table Between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership

Parameter of ComparisonAutocraticDemocratic
DefinitionAutocratic leadership has only one person that has the authority to make decisions and takes very little to no inputs from other groups.Democratic leadership allows everyone to participate in decision making.
The flow of AuthorityCentralizedDecentralized
Level of ControlHighLow
Applicable groupsMost likely were uneducated, obedient, and unskilled subordinates.Mostly are experienced and professional team members.

What is Autocratic Leadership?

Autocratic leadership or authoritarian leadership refers to a person who demonstrates control over all decisions, taking little to no input from other groups or individuals.

They make resolutions out of their judgments, ideas, and beliefs.

An autocratic leader is someone who can be like a dictator. They usually instill fear and control to gain power over people.

Familiar names like Adolf Hitler, Queen Elizabeth I, King Henry III, and Napoleon Bonaparte are said to be one of those people from the world’s history who demonstrated autocratic leadership.

Characteristics of an Autocratic Leadership

  1. An autocratic leader enforced his/her ideas or judgment, tells his subordinates what to do all the time, which often leads to micromanagement.
  2. He/ she also makes decisions alone, without confiding to anyone else.
  3. Having a team is almost irrelevant since the members were rarely asked of inputs.

Although it may sound cynical, autocratic leadership has its advantages:

  1. It is useful for a small group that lacks leadership.
  2. It is effective in a crisis.
  3. Allows fast decision to be made.
  4. It improves productivity.
  5. It improves communication.
  6. It reduces the risk of employee stress.
  7. Counters team inexperience.

It also has disadvantages:

1. Often leads to micromanagement – With the leader’s reputation on the line, it is not a surprise when many leaders tend to micromanage. Workers were sometimes forced to report every activity by a given time, thus resulting in productivity to decrease.

2. Creating a culture based on the leader – “Follow the leader” phrase is prevalent in this example.

The work ethics of the employees solely based on the work ethics of their leader, which means that if their leader has poor work ethics, no one will be most likely to step up, and this habit isn’t going to change any time soon.

3. It does not give credit nor has a sense of ownershipLeaders are in charge of making decisions, which means that even if the idea came from the subordinate or a group, the leader will either take the credit or the fall for the decision.

4. Lack of trust – Contrary to the norm where a successful working relationship is built with confidence, autocratic leadership, is founded with mistrust.

It makes sense since leaders must assume that their subordinates are not performing well, which requires direct supervision to ensure the results. It hinders creativity, cooperation, and, most of all, initiative.

What is Democratic Leadership?

Democratic leadership, also known as participative leadership, is an act of allowing everyone to participate in decision making.

It is often confused by the idea of democracy.

The individuals involved do not share the same hierarchical status; however, they share the same power and liberty in making decisions.

U.S. President, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Jimmy Carter are just a few names written in history who exhibits democratic leadership,

Here are the characteristics of democratic leadership:

  1. The collaboration of ideas is free-flowing.
  2. The responsibility is shared among the group of subordinates.
  3. The leaders often select who from the group are tasked for the decision-making committee.
  4. Democratic leadership maintains mutual respect within the workplace, and open conversations, suggestions, and even objective criticisms are welcome.
  5. Democratic leaders can often be seen in a democratic country, non-profit organizations, and innovative companies.

Advantages of democratic leadership:

  1. Anyone can practice this type of leadership.
  2. Has a higher chance of solving complex matters quickly.
  3. Improves the team’s knowledge, participation, and productivity.
  4. Boost self-esteem and enhances the quality of work.
  5. It creates awareness and accountability.

Disadvantages of democratic leadership:

  1. If misapplied, it may cause disharmony.
  2. Democratic leadership gives too much liberty to the group that sometimes it is hard to draw a line between the leader and subordinates.
  3. It doesn’t always provide a positive outcome, especially when leaders let the majority of the population decide on his/her behalf.

Main Differences Between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership

  1. Autocratic leadership is a type of management wherein only one person is responsible for making decisions out of his/her belief and judgment. On the other hand, democratic leadership shares decision making power to the group.
  2. The ideas and communication in a democratic leadership flows, which is opposite for autocratic leadership wherein the decision comes from the leader alone.
  3. The responsibilities and accountability are shared in a democratic leadership while one person will take either the credit or fall in an autocratic leadership.

Conclusion

The advantages and disadvantages of autocratic and democratic leadership styles will give you an idea of which path to take. A leader should determine the appropriate type of leadership in every given situation to create a balanced workplace or community.

One must always remember that a successful choice will promote high morale and self-worth among subordinates or group.

However, democratic leadership has established a more effective response compared to autocratic leadership for decades now which gives it most of an edge.

References

  1. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-autocratic-leadership-2795314
  2. https://status.net/articles/democratic-leadership-participative-leadership/
  3. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/leadership-styles
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