The Authoritarian Leadership Style Has Only One Application

Having spent over twelve years in the United States Marine Corps I can attest to the fact that the authoritarian leadership style has only one good application and that is in the military. In the military you need one person in total charge and everyone else carrying out their orders. If it is any other way in combat lives can be lost.

So what is authoritarian leadership? In short it is a leadership style whereby one person designated as the leader makes all decisions without any input from others. In most cases when it happens outside the military it is a result of a control freak. Although there are times outside the military that an authoritarian leader is effective it is far and few between.

In the military it isn’t so much that the leader is a control freak it is the fact that orders can’t be questioned. With rare exception in the military those in a leadership role have experienced what is taking place at some point in their career. Therefore when they bark out an order it requires instant obedience. There isn’t time in a combat situation to sit down and discuss all the options. It boils down to experience and gut check moments.

In business on the other hand this leadership style works just the opposite. Some refer to it as micro managing or a dictatorship. In either case turnover will be high and productivity will be low. Both are business killers. In my opinion the situational leadership style is the most effective outside of the military. A situational leader will adapt to each situation and to the types of employees they are leading. Everyone is a little different. My father always told me that there are three types of people in the workplace. Those that you can suggest something be done and leave the deadline open ended. The type of person that you tell them it needs to be done and give them a deadline. The third is the type of person you direct them to do it right now.

When it comes to the military an authoritarian leader is seen as confident and in charge. During my twelve years in the Marine Corps this type of leader is exactly what people want. They don’t want someone asking for input from those following them. Followers want someone that knows what to do. When a leader starts asking “What do you think”, it scares the heck out of those following and for good reason. Those following demand a lot from their leader.

Good leadership skills go much farther than just getting something accomplished. Good leadership skills demand creating an environment where those following want to accomplish what leadership is asking them to do. As I mentioned earlier it creates loyalty and loyalty creates retention and productivity. Not just productivity but quality in that productivity.

In the Marine Corps we had a saying that was very true but always got a chuckle when repeated. We want to be so prepared to go to battle that instead of saying “We are prepared to die for our country," which we were, we wanted to be sure that our opposition “Would be dying for their country!” An authoritarian leadership style would go a long way to insuring just that in combat.

Thank you and May God bless you!

Thank you for reviewing this article on the authoritarian leadership style - Return Page