Authoritative Leadership Style

Personnel supervision is one of the significant working conditions since human resources are limited and require special attention. Laborers usually adjust to their leader. Frequently, there are some groups that need a strong chief, who could correctly allocate responsibilities, establish exact deadlines for the completion of project and control all performers. This allows maximizing resources and benefits for the whole company. But abuse of high position may turn against the head.

What Is Authoritative Leadership Style?

By authoritative (visionary) category means a set of procedures through which a bellwether is guided by own knowledge, interests, and goals. It is used to solve current issues and supposes a great distance in education between a board and the staff, as well as the material motivation of workers.

With this approach, the passivity of performers, fawning, servility, and self-isolation are inevitable. An exchange of information is limited. Individuals hide their shortcomings during workflow and their gaps regarding certain data. Persons distort a real state of things, which leads to decrease in the quality of activity. In the authoritarian leadership style, a closed circle of distrust and mutual discontent is formed.

A theoretical basis of authoritative type is the theory of “X” and “Y” by Douglas McGregor. The first describes a sort of manager that implements directive methods because he or she refers to laborers in disbelief. This concept proceeds from the notion that personnel are inert resource, existing only to fulfill assignments set by the boss. The second one leaves a certain amount of freedom and independence for wage-earners necessary in order to manifest own creativity.

Characteristics of Authoritative Leaders

A visionary style is suitable for personalities who seek to solve most of the issues independently, not particularly considering the others’ opinions. Such toppers, as a rule, brightly describe the future prospects of the company and clearly define the ways to reach them. But their excessive categoricalness could paralyze an activity of the whole team.

The chief proceeds from the fact that he or she, unlike staff, has a great understanding and competence. The authoritative or autocratic leader is distinguished by a high level of consciousness, self-control, foresight, and ability to quickly resolve conflicts. However, the head of high qualification will aspire to shift a main burden of responsibility and actively intervene in all processes. Akin long-term aspirations may lead to overstretching of forces and creation of the syndrome of micro-management.

Laborers develop the habit of constantly contacting with their director, endlessly demanding advice or instructions. People try to get rid of liability, preferring to be led. Most of all they want security. Personnel perceive orders from above either indifferently, or with unflattering reservations. Sometimes they are happy with any mistake of the boss, finding in it another confirmation of own negative opinion about him/her.

So, on the one hand, authoritative style is manifested in order, the urgency of affairs and capability to predict result at the maximum concentration of all types of resources. On the other hand, there are tendencies to restrain individual initiative and unilateral movement of information flows from top to bottom, in absence of adequate mutual connection.

Pros and Cons of Authoritative Leadership

It's no secret that all management styles are defined by their strengths and weaknesses. The benefit of the mentioned approach is the head’s ability to move to actions during crisis or chaos. Here precious time is not wasted on debates and discussions, so a crew quickly selects solutions from available options. But there may be situations when the leader is most likely not able to offer a better judgment or to implement it in the most optimal way.


  • High speed in making anti-crisis decisions;
  • Success in the current tasks;
  • The absolute responsibility of manager;
  • Clear criteria for reaching objectives;
  • An accurate vision of a general state of affairs.


  • A sharp decline of laborers’ initiative;
  • Increasing a risk of making the wrong choice;
  • The unhealthy psychological climate in a team;
  • Dissatisfaction of workers with their position;
  • It does not guarantee a large-scale effect in the long term.

Examples of Authoritative Leaders

Although visionary style could sometimes be fruitful, there are often cases when it brings troubles to the company. Researchers have found authoritative approach often leads to a lack of creative solutions to ongoing challenges. Despite the fact that some potential “traps” have already been laid, managers must learn to use this type’s elements with intelligence.

Jack Hartnett, an owner of 54 car snack bars Sonic, is an example of a successful authoritative leader. His manner of supervision has demonstrated its effectiveness at fast-food enterprises, where a lot of workers are young and have insufficient qualifications. Stephen Jobs is another unique case of leadership with a dominant marketing competence. He could “smear the wall” of anyone, as well as convince the engineer to perceive the routine assignment like designing a power supply unit as a dangerous mission.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison, which did not stop him from becoming president of South Africa and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. This authoritative person was distinguished by charm, generosity, unbending will and sense of humor. The most famous revolutionary in the history of mankind, Ernesto Che Guevara, possessed excellent creative thinking, which was useful to him both in a peaceful life and in armed confrontations. Sir Winston Churchill, of course, has acquired the reputation of a great authoritative person. An unsurpassed speaker, he was able to confidently stay in the public and easily mastered its attention, which enabled him to effectively communicate his thoughts.

Application of Authoritative Leadership

The akin style works well in business, at the initial stage of the company formation, when the staff does not have a common vision of strategic aims and ways to gain them. Visionary type is the most resultful when it comes to solving single-valued and rectilinear assignments. Teams refer to it in controversial situations or during appearance serious problems due to ignoring the guidance of the administration. Bellwethers use it to find a common language with newcomers or create a new image for the firm.

On the contrary, a similar approach is ineffective when trying to cope with an extraordinary project, requiring some freedom to disclose a creative potential of workers. Studies have shown, although, in a quantitative ratio under authoritative conditions, a large volume of orders could be made, while their originality and novelty suffer significantly.

Experts recommend this type of supervision apply exclusively in the short term in relation to single-minded and talented wage-earners. It cannot justify itself if the head is not perceived as a reliable person and does not take care of own personnel.

Thus, authoritative style could lead a crew into world leaders. But one should avoid its escalation into the command manual, which may turn into various forms of abuse of power. Therefore, choose a paternal benevolent tone when communicating with laborers. Only in this way, you will reach great outcomes.

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