Leadership can be explained as one's ability to lead a group of followers effectively in an
organization. Effective leadership comprises the ability to motivate, take responsibility, and bear
a vision to successfully run business enterprises. In contemporary settings, the two vital
leadership approaches that are popularly applied in the business world include democratic
leadership and autocratic leadership. Autocratic leadership is a classical approach where a central
figure bears all the powers and authority of making decisions without considering the opinions
and suggestions of others. On the other hand, democratic leadership assumes a participative style
where employees contribute to organizational decision-making. Different leaders apply different
approaches depending on the situation and types of management applicable to the prevailing
A popular similarity between democratic and autocratic leadership is that both
approaches involve a hierarchy, a definition of roles, and responsibilities for every employee to
follow the leaders' instructions and communicate clearly. In this context, there is a need to
develop clearly stated goals and expectations for all team members (Al Khajeh 6). However, in
both scenarios, leaders bear the power to make decisions on their own, although board meetings
with varying opinions may be necessary for democratic leadership, unlike autocratic leadership
which does not require meetings.
Another common characteristic between autocratic and democratic leadership is the need
for leaders to assume responsibility and take control of situations accordingly. To effectively
undertake these responsibilities, organizational leaders must exhibit effective communication
with followers, be it through emails and forums or face-to-face interactions. In both cases,
individuals assigned leadership roles must demonstrate an ability to evaluate and react to
different situations swiftly and appropriately (Nedelko and Potocan 4207). In democratic
leadership, the board is responsible while it is the task of the central figure in autocratic
leadership to show direction in contentious situations.
Despite bearing resonating characteristics, autocratic and democratic leadership styles are
distinct in their ways. Notably, autocratic leadership is highly rigid compared to the democratic
leadership model. In autocratic systems, rules stipulated decisions barely include the opinions of
followers. This leadership approach does not facilitate objections. Unlike the democratic
approach, one or few individuals bear the power to make decisions eliminating the need for
consultative meetings (Waljee and Dimick 175). However, in democratic systems, followers
contribute to making organizational decisions and participate in meeting to air views that help
make the work environment more productive. Democratic leaders appreciate the significance of
everyone being open-minded and listening to each other's opinions before reaching a standpoint.
Another prominent distinction between autocratic and democratic leadership is the
primary focus of employees. In democratic leadership, there is a greater emphasis on teamwork
compared to autocratic leadership which focuses on individual performance. Consequently, in
the democratic leadership approach, different members of the organization with defined roles
and job descriptions work alongside and with each other to reach decisions from varying
viewpoints (Waljee and Dimick 172). However, in autocratic systems, all followers must not
have clearly defined roles since the leaders take responsibility for everything, thus no need for
anyone to worry about the tasks of others.
There are different forms of leadership approaches in the workplace and finding the right
one can be challenging for some. Autocratic and democratic leadership are among the most
popular models for organizational management. When evaluating for effectiveness, democratic
leadership scores higher than autocratic leadership. The decision on which approach to assume
relies on the immediate goals and followers. Autocratic leadership may be effective where the
immediate goal is increasing output and low clamor for independence among subordinates.
However, where the ultimate goal is job satisfaction coupled with the need for independence
among followers, the democratic approach is the best.
Al Khajeh, Ebrahim H. "Impact of Leadership Styles on Organizational Performance." Journal
of Human Resources Management Research, 2018, pp. 1-10.
Nedelko, Zlatko, and Vojko Potocan. "Sustainability of Organizations: The Contribution of
Personal Values to Democratic Leadership Behavior Focused on the Sustainability of
Organizations." Sustainability, vol. 13, no. 8, 2021, p. 4207.
"The Relationship Between Leadership Styles (Autocratic and Democratic) of School
Administrators and the Mobbing Teachers Suffer." European Journal of Contemporary
Education, vol. 7, no. 1, 2018.
Waljee, Jennifer F., and Justin B. Dimick. "Choosing the “Right” Leadership Style for You."
Success in Academic Surgery, 2018, pp. 171-180.