Key Difference – Autocratic vs Bureaucratic Leadership
Leadership style should be carefully chosen depending on the type of the organization and the workforce. Autocratic and bureaucratic leadership are two popular styles of leadership among many. The key difference between autocratic and bureaucratic leadership is that autocratic leadership is a leadership style where the leader makes all decisions and exerts a high level of control over the subordinates whereas bureaucratic leadership style is based on following normative rules in management and decision making, and adhering to lines of authority. Both autocratic and bureaucratic leadership styles are criticized for being rigid and inflexible styles; however, are widely used for their merits and result-oriented nature.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Autocratic Leadership
3. What is Bureaucratic Leadership
4. Side by Side Comparison – Autocratic vs Bureaucratic Leadership
What is Autocratic Leadership?
Autocratic leadership, also known as ‘authoritarian leadership’, is a leadership style where the leaders make all the decisions and exert a high level of control over the subordinates. Autocratic leaders are result oriented, make decisions based on their views and judgments and rarely accept advice from the subordinates. They believe that one-way communication is the most effective and dominates the interaction. Autocratic leadership style is mostly implemented in industries that operate complicated tasks and in ones that are highly performance or result oriented since this style is required in organizations that demand error-free products. While criticized by many as a rigid and inflexible style, it is also among the most commonly used leadership styles for its proven results.
Further, in a condition where the company is dealing with a crisis situation, an autocratic leader may be essential to reinstate the business to the previous condition prior to the crisis. Autocratic leadership style is ideal to use for inexperienced and less motivated employees. On the other hand, if the workforce is highly skilled and self-motivated, they will not be willing to be led by this leadership style since they prefer autonomy. Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Muammar Gaddafi are some of the historical figures who are famous for being autocratic leaders.
What is Bureaucratic Leadership?
Bureaucratic style is based on following normative rules in management and decision making, and adhering to lines of authority. Bureaucratic leadership is managed based on the hierarchy of the organization. Hierarchy is a system in which employees are ranked according to their status and decision-making power. Bureaucratic leadership style was introduced by Max Weber in 1947. This is a leadership style most commonly used in public sector organizations.
Characteristics of Bureaucratic Leadership
Clear Lines of Duties
All employees have comprehensive job descriptions where they have clear lines of authority, responsibility, and accountability.
Hierarchy of Authority
Positions in the organization are ordered in a hierarchy where employees who hold lower positions are accountable to and are supervised by line managers who hold higher level positions.
All information relating to job descriptions, lines of reporting, rules, and regulations are comprehensively documented in bureaucratic organizations.
The amount of control exerted over decision making under bureaucratic leadership style is extensive. However, the speed of decision making may be low since there is a tall organizational structure (many layers in the hierarchy). This is a major drawback of this leadership style since the decisions may not be sufficient to obtain a significant advantage due to the time lag between taking the decisions and actions. Further, this type of leadership style has very low level of flexibility and does not encourage creativity. Thus, it can be an efficient management style in companies that don’t require much creativity or innovation from employees.
What is the difference between Autocratic and Bureaucratic Leadership?
Autocratic vs Bureaucratic Leadership
|Autocratic leadership is where the leader is making all decisions and exerts a high level of control over the subordinates.||Bureaucratic style is based on following normative rules in management and decision making, and adhering to lines of authority.|
|Autocratic leadership style is most suitable for result oriented organizations.||Bureaucratic leadership style is most widely used in public sector organizations.|
|Speed of Decision Making|
|In autocratic leadership style, the speed of decision making is very fast since the leader takes the decisions.||The speed of decision making is slow in bureaucratic leadership style since there are many layers of authority.|
Summary – Autocratic vs Bureaucratic Leadership
The difference between autocratic and bureaucratic leadership depends on a number of factors such as their nature and the type of industries and companies that use the respective styles. Organizations that have complicated cost structures and complex processes can benefit from autocratic leadership. On the other hand, use of bureaucratic leadership mainly depends on the hierarchy of the organization by clearly defining responsibilities and authorities. Both leadership styles pay less attention to motivation and creativity of subordinates.
1. “Advantages & Drawbacks of the Autocratic Leadership Style.” Chron.com. Chron.com, 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 17 May 2017. <http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-drawbacks-autocratic-leadership-style-16616.html>.
2. “What Is Bureaucratic Leadership? – Definition, Examples & Disadvantages.” Study.com. Study.com, n.d. Web. 16 May 2017. <http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-bureaucratic-leadership-definition-examples-disadvantages.html>.
3. “What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Bureaucratic Organization Structure?” Chron.com. Chron.com, 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 16 May 2017. <http://smallbusiness.chron.com/advantages-disadvantages-bureaucratic-organization-structure-2761.html>.
1. “Bundesarchiv Bild 183-S33882, Adolf Hitler (cropped2)” By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S33882 (CC-BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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