The role of a leader in an organization cannot be underestimated. Every company depends on the decisions made by leaders, their skills, and the management style they apply. There is a large variety of leadership styles, although some of them are considered to be the most traditional and well-known for the business practice such as autocratic and democratic leadership styles. Thus, the main aim of this paper is to compare and contrast two of the most popular leadership styles by identifying their advantages and disadvantages.
Short Description and Advantages of the Autocratic Leadership Style
Autocratic leadership style is also referred to as authoritarian. Its main advantages include providing clear instructions about the tasks, timing, and the ways in which they have to be completed. Moreover, an application of this leadership style in an organization establishes a clear line that separates the leader from the followers. This way, a company can have an evident organization structure where all the employees and managers know their roles, responsibilities, and tasks which helps to improve the efficiency of everyday operations. This style eliminates the possibility of confusion or assigning the unclear tasks to the employees, which makes all operations faster and brings more positive results.
Furthermore, the decisions made by autocratic leaders are independent and do not rely on the help from the outside sources. Even though in the authoritarian style others are not involved in the decision-making process, the leader directs the team toward common goals and vision. An authoritative leader has a positive ability to form a mission, be very enthusiastic and productive.
Thus, this leadership style can be effectively used in the situations with limited time and necessity of group decision-making or in case the leader is the only person in the group who has the knowledge and experience relevant to the specific situation. It results in increasing employees’ self-control and drive to achievements. Moreover, it can be useful while working with problem employees.
Advantages of the Democratic Leadership Style
Democratic leadership style, which is also called participative, is commonly recognized as the most effective style of leadership. Being supportive and guiding other group members, a democratic leader actively participates in the work of the group. Democratic leaders encourage every member of the group to share their ideas and bring their input into the process. The quality of the team work is proved to be much higher in the groups with democratic leaders.
Furthermore, the decision making process is not absolutely democratic with no authoritative person to make a final decision (Brooks, 2012). In fact, the democratic leader listens to the ideas of all the group members, evaluates them, gives the feedback, but individually chooses the best option. Thus, the final say is retained by the leaders in this leadership style.
Another positive aspect of this leadership style is the involvement of the group in every stage of the process. People feel engaged and responsible which makes them more creative and increases their motivation to work (Cherry, 2013). A democratic leader is fully committed to goals, tactics, and strategies. However, the main concern for the leader is to involve the employees, make common decisions, and ensure everyone feeling fairly treated in the organization. The leader takes care about everyone’s trust to the company and him in order to improve internal organizational climate and relationship.
The democratic leadership style is most useful in the situations when team work is necessary, and quality plays more important role than productivity and efficiency. The style has positive outcomes because it stimulates valuable employees to give fresh ideas thus improving the quality of work. It results in building strong relationship, encourages communication and collaboration amongst team members.
Disadvantages of the Autocratic Leadership Style
The main disadvantage of the autocratic style is that this manner of leadership is usually too controlling and dictatorial.
Although the decision making process was stated as an advantage of this leadership style, it can also be considered as a major disadvantage since it does not let others to involve in the process and express their ideas. Additionally, the decisions made by autocratic leaders are often less creative than the ones made by the leaders following other styles of leadership.
Another disadvantage is connected to the difficulties changing the authoritative style of leadership to the democratic style, while it is quite easy in the opposite direction.
Disadvantages of the Democratic Leadership Style
Democratic leadership style does not have many disadvantages; that is why it is called one of the most efficient styles. However, a decreased level of group members’ productivity can be noticed when comparing it to the autocratic style. It is due to the fact that people do not feel pressured and constantly monitored, which is definitely not a bad factor.
Furthermore, applying the participative style of leadership sometimes slows decision-making process down. During a crisis or other critical situations, the democratic leadership style can be too slow for finding an urgent solution. It can be slowed down by considering multiple ideas and input from all employees and choosing the best option. Additionally, involving every group member in the decision making process has a risk of taking into account the ideas of people who do not have relevant qualifications, knowledge, or experience. As the result, it can lead to a decrease in the quality of decisions.
Similarities and Differences Between the Autocratic and the Democratic Leadership Styles
The autocratic and democratic leadership styles are two polar concepts that have a large amount of differences. First of all, an autocratic leader has a complete power over the employees while a democratic leader shares responsibilities and encourages everyone to participate in the process.
Moreover, the decision making process is absolutely different for the two styles of leadership. An autocratic leader makes all the decisions individually without letting other people participate while a participative leader encourages others to speak about their ideas and considers them when he makes a decision. However, the leadership styles are similar in the way that final decision belongs to the leaders.
Furthermore, an authoritative leader gives clear tasks that have to be fulfilled quickly and according to the command. A participative leader prefers being friendly with people, lets them make their own decisions and choices. The democratic leadership style gives people the direction, but expects them to choose their own way of accomplishing a task and encourages creativity unlike the autocratic style where people do not have much opportunity to suggest anything, even in the situation when it would be the team’s best interest.
Therefore, the results of applying these leadership styles are also absolutely different. The overall impact on climate of an organization is positive when using a democratic style, and negative in the conditions of autocratic leadership style.
Applying the autocratic leadership style leads to enormous efficiency of employees’ work that are put under conditions of strict control, monitoring, and giving commands. The process of decision making is very quick and effective. However, people feel pressured which results in their low motivation and creativity. Furthermore, it heightens the level of staff turnover and absenteeism.
The result of applying the democratic leadership style is connected to an increased level of employees’ motivation, creativity, job satisfaction, and engagement in the decision-making process. Democratic leadership style also stimulates people to find new creative ways of completing their tasks and to develop their skills which is highly beneficial for a company. Employees are not only concentrated on the financial reward as it is with the autocratic style. Even though the decision making process might be slower when using the participative leadership style, the decisions normally have better quality.
The best time to apply autocratic leadership is during the crises as the situation requires quick and efficient decisions while democratic style is best applied for increasing the overall quality of results.
After comparing and contrasting the two styles, it is obvious that democratic style has more advantages than autocratic leadership style. Thus, I am convinces that in most situations the democratic leadership style should be applied as more efficient and motivating for employees. Positive organizational climate is an important lever for motivating employees to work better, more efficiently and creatively. People, who are satisfied with their job, are more likely to have better work outcomes in a long run.
Therefore, democratic and autocratic styles of leadership are absolutely different in the way how the leaders give tasks to employees, involve them in decision-making process, and manage various situations. Both of them can be efficient and bring positive results in different situations. However, I believe that current state of business mainly requires applying the democratic style of leadership since it gives people a certain level of freedom and encourages them to develop their skills and knowledge. It is easy to understand that people work more efficiently when they are happy with work conditions and the relationship with colleagues and the leader.