Difference Between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership (With Table)

Autocratic vs Democratic Leadership

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.


Comparison Table Between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership (in Tabular Form)

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.

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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.

Autocratic Leadership
A common belief of many Autocratic leaders is that followers require direct supervision at all times or else they would not operate effectively. Autocratic leadership style works well if the leader is competent and knowledgeable enough to decide about each and everything. Autocratic is considered one of the most effective leadership styles in case there is some emergency and quick decisions need to be taken.

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.
Pros and Cons of Democratic Leadership
Pros and Cons of Democratic Leadership

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.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Autocratic and Democratic Leadership

  1. What is an example of an autocracy?

    Autocracy is basically a system of government where a party or a single person owns absolute and supreme power.

    Monarchies and dictators are a modern-day form of autocracy. An example of autocracy is Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler.

    It was a political party that ruled and controlled Germany through a dictatorship.

  2. What is an example of democratic leadership?

    Democratic leadership refers to the leadership, which allows the member of groups to participate in decision making.

    An example of a democratic leader is George Washington. During the American Revolution, he was not like other commanding troops.

    He was very supportive and democratic with the U.S government. He proved it by appointing powerful and influential leaders for the staff.

  3. What is a disadvantage of democratic leadership?

    At some point, democratic leadership is good but not in every situation. It consumes a lot of time to listen from a large crowd, which only delays the result.

    For immediate response and delivery, it will be a bad choice to waste time asking everyone’s opinions.

    Due to this style, the leaders have to apologize for not considering everyone’s idea as the members expect their views to be valued and implemented.

    Collecting all the ideas and opinions through a single platform needs a lot of patience.

  4. Do democracies have better economies?

    Economic growth and democracy have shown an interactive relationship.

    Democracy has a positive impact on the economy because democratic policies are built on the principles of equality and liberty.

    This benefits the firms and individuals, hence increase everyone’s participation in economic growth. This proves that democracies have better economies.

  5. Is Russia an autocracy?

    Yes, Russia is an autocracy country that has gone through oligarchy, democracy, anarchy, and now autocracy.

    Vladimir Putin has played an important role in setting Russia’s political priorities.

    From 2000 to 2008, he was the president of Russia. From 2008 to 2012, he was the Prime Minister. And now, he’s been the president since 2012.

  6. What are the different types of autocracy?

    Autocracy refers to a person who owns the country. There are generally two forms of autocracy:
    Monarchy: Monarchy means a king or queen who rules a country. Monarchs are passed through a family line, which means the oldest child of king or queen will be the next monarch. Monarchs share power in some parts of the government.
    Dictatorship: Dictatorship means where a leader has all the control over citizen’s lives. All the other part of the government obeys the dictator.

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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.


Word Cloud for Difference Between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Autocratic and Democratic Leadership. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Autocratic and Democratic Leadership
Word Cloud for Autocratic and Democratic Leadership



  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

2 thoughts on “Difference Between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership (With Table)”

  1. had it not been askanydifference website, where would have gone to find the difference between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership

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