Does an autocratic leadership style have anything to offer contemporary British business?

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Does an autocratic leadership style have anything to offer
contemporary British business?
An autocratic leader likes to make all the decisions without any reference to anyone else;
they tend to use one-way, top-down communication. For example, Ingvar kampard (owner
of the furniture retail chain IKEA) has developed an autocratic approach to leading his
127,000 employees ­ ensuring quick decision making. On the other hand leaders could have
more of a democratic approach; the focus of power is more with the group as a whole and
leadership functions are shared. For example, Richard reed the creator of innocent
smoothies believes that employees should be involved in decision making.
An autocratic approach to business has several pros and cons; people will know exactly what
to do and this cerates quick decision making, where as on the other hand it could create
de-motivation and alienation of staff as orders must be obeyed. Similarly, the democratic
approach has advantages and disadvantages. It is good for motivation of staff as employees
decisions and opinions are considered ­ they feel apart of the business and therefore are
more likely to take on responsibly and work hard. However this take on leadership means
that decision making is very slow which could potentially mean that businesses miss
Both of these styles could be used in contemporary British business. In my opinion, I believe
that the type of leadership approach will depend on the type of business. Douglas
McGregor's theory identifies two different types of leaders ­ theory X leaders tend to have
a pessimistic view of their employees in which they would only work if encouraged and only
take on responsibility if incentivised to take it. On the other hand, theory Y leaders have an
optimistic view of their employees and they want to work. So which is the right approach? A
theory Y leader would certainly be more motivating and more interesting to work for
however a theory X leader could seriously succeed if the majority of employees are mainly
part-time workers or in a situation where a business faces a crisis. I believe that
contemporary British businesses should consider McGregor's theory and realise that if you
want a motivated and hard-working work force then a more democratic approach should be
In conclusion, I believe that an autocratic approach to business is not the way forward. In the
words of Warren Bennis, leaders should have an openness and magnanimity about them in
order to be a good leader ­ they should be happy to acknowledge the successes of others
and require a willingness to be open to new ideas. Leaders must have integrity ­ always
behaving in a way that is consistent with their core values. In contemporary businesses
leaders need to have creativity and find new ways around old problems. A leader must `bring
passion, perspective and significance to the process of defining organisational purpose'.
Dan Grist


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