Most leaders don’t like to think of themselves as autocrats. Domineering people who lead by denigrating others and expect total obedience. However, in many cases, if you speak to employees or even other leaders in an organization, they have little trouble pointing out the leaders who struggle to listen to others and always expect “my way or the highway.”
It’s true, when you’re the boss, the buck stops with you. Harry Truman was fond of saying that, and he was right. You have the ultimate responsibility, so you have the final say. Having the authority is not the same as being an autocrat.
Many leaders have tremendous authority and incredible power, and they manage to inspire rather than threaten. Every leader is capable of making this transition from a leader people have to follow to a leader people love to follow. Here’s a few questions to help you identify where you may stand.
When making a decision, where do you go for information?
Autocratic leaders tend to rely on their own judgement and doubt the suggestions or investment of other people on their team. When decision time comes, they go with what feels right to them rather than inviting different perspectives.
Does your organization struggle with retention?
Autocrats tend to encourage excessive staff turnover. People want to be heard, and they need to feel valued. Autocrats often either avoid input from their team or they offer opportunities to communicate without appreciating the value of their team’s perspective. This causes feelings of frustration for members of the team, which the autocrat may not even be aware they are creating. Often, the frustration will grow until the team member – who just wants to bring value and feel appreciated – decides he or she has had enough.
Are the people around you growing?
Because autocrats don’t like to be challenged, they tend to promote the status quo in their actions and attitudes. If you’re frustrated because the people around you don’t seem to be “getting it” or getting better, you may want to consider how your leadership style might be limiting your team’s opportunities for growth.
Is your team excited to get to work?
Autocrats expect obedience, and they leave little room for joy in the work. If your people are not passionate about their work, they may be in the wrong position … but they might also be responding to the culture of leadership around them.
Are you more concerned with doing right or being right?
Autocrats often struggle with the need to “be” right, so they miss the opportunity to make the best decisions. An autocratic leadership style will cause a person to insist on their “way” even when, deep down, they know they really didn’t put the work in to get all the information they need to make the best call.
How did you do?
Remember, any leader can make the transition from autocratic leader to inspiring leader. The first step is realizing the areas where you need to think and act differently.
Are you a leader who wants to create an inspiring environment for your team and help them be their best? Connect with Trish here.
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