Impacts of authoritarianism in the workplace
Written by: Abisola Ogundiran – February 23, 2021
Leadership is simply the ability to lead or the position of being in control of a group. Leadership can exist in both informal and formal groups.
Authoritarian leadership, also known as Autocratic leadership, is a style of leadership characterized by an individual having sole control over all decisions and allows little or no input from members of the group. Autocratic leaders make decisions or choices based on their personal beliefs, experiences, ideas, and judgments and do not allow others' suggestions or advice. Leaders who practice authoritarian leadership love to maintain absolute control over the group they are leading, requiring unreserved support over the rules, procedures, and policies they put in place for every project. In a system like this, the work tends to be rigid, with creativity, in many cases, discouraged.
Since autocratic leaders make decisions and choices without gaining other's perspectives, members of the group would most likely resent the fact that they cannot contribute their opinions and thoughts in decision-making. Analysts have additionally discovered that authoritarian leadership regularly brings about an absence of creative and innovative answers to various issues, which can lead to poor execution of projects and, as a result, lead to poor outcomes.
A considerable body of empirical research has likewise investigated the impact of authoritarian leadership on employees’ work-related behavior and results. Authoritarian leadership has a negative relationship with employees' behavior, creativity, and performance, and such leadership style also has a positive relationship with employees' aberrant workplace behavior. Specifically, research on authoritarian leadership and employee performance has indicated that authoritarian leadership is negatively associated with employee performance. This is because followers of authoritarian leaders are likely to have low trust in the leader, low self-esteem, poor relationship with the leader, and as a result, little or no motivation to improve performance.
While autocratic leadership can be useful at times, there are likewise numerous instances where this leadership style can be problematic. People who misuse an authoritarian leadership style are frequently seen as controlling, tyrannical, and bossy, which can sometimes result in resentment and even hatred among group members.
Followers of an authoritarian leader can feel that they have no input or say in how things are done. This can be specifically dangerous when talented and skilled members of a team are left with an inclination that their knowledge and commitments are undermined. Some negative impacts of autocratic leadership are:
• Leader Appears to Be Overbearing
Authoritative leaders can come off as overbearing. For employees accustomed to having free control over how they complete assignments, get their work done and contribute towards achieving company goals, the dictatorial approach of the authoritative leadership style can appear somewhat overbearing.
• Discourages Team Input
Authoritarian leaders make decisions without consulting their team members. This tends to discourage team input. Research has also shown that authoritarian leadership often results in a lack of creative solutions to problems, which can ultimately affect the team's performance.
• Affects Team Morale
Authoritarian leadership can also affect the morale of the team in most cases. Individuals would generally feel more joyful and perform better when they have an inclination that they are contributing to the future and vision of the team. Since authoritarian leaders typically do not allow input from team members, followers start to feel disgruntled and stifled.
• Leads to a Higher Churn Rate
When a team member starts having the feeling that they have given everything and there is no visible progress or way forward for the future, then they will start looking for other jobs that will provide them with new challenges. The hierarchy within the authoritarian leadership style is evident. Leaders command all the procedures and work methods. There is no opportunity to challenge yourself or push forward so people tend to look for other opportunities where they can.
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