Authoritative vs Authoritarian: What Kind of Leader Are You?

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The basic definition of leadership is “the power or ability to lead other people,” but there’s a lot more than that.  Some people say leadership is guiding others to complete a particular task, while others believe it means motivating people to be their best selves. And though definitions may vary but the general idea remains the same: leaders know how to set direction, inspire people and achieve goals.

There are many leadership styles that embody different traits and skills, and in this article, we are going to focus on two of them – authoritative and authoritarian. Though they may sound similar but are totally different at heart.

Authoritarian leader: “Do as I do”

The autocratic (authoritarian) style is one in which a single person takes control and makes decisions with little input from group members. Such leaders make choices based on their ideas and don’t (or rarely) accept advice from others. This leadership style may be beneficial in the situation when decisions should be made quickly, and the leader is the most knowledgeable person in the team.

At the same time, people who abuse an autocratic leadership style cause discontentment among group members. People are unable to contribute ideas and feel like their knowledge and expertise are overlooked. This lead to the lack of creative solutions and the overall failure of the group.

Authoritative leader: “Come with me”

When it comes to being an effective leader, the authoritative style is considered the best. Such leaders run the organisation toward common goals and manage to engage and energise team members along the way. They lead but give people the opportunity to choose means on their own. This is how they ignite enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit.

5 ways to be an authoritative leader:

  • Learn: Even if you think you’re the smartest person at the table, there are still people who know more than you. Use every opportunity to learn and share knowledge with your team.
  • Explain: Authoritative leaders don’t just say what should be done – they explain why.
  • Engage: Authoritarian leaders say, “Do what I tell you.” Authoritative leaders say, “Come with me.” They are willing to participate and are not afraid to get their hands dirty.
  • Celebrate: Celebrate the competence and achievements of others.
  • Go forward: Focus less on what went wrong as backward-looking leaders tend to over-blame others. Reach toward positives and focus more on where you’re going.
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About the Author

Ira Maniuk

Hygger’s Head of Marketing. Passionate about bringing hygge in every team’s workflow.