Have you ever had a teacher whom you admired and disliked at the same time? Someone who had your best interest at heart but tried to micromanage you. If yes, then your teacher showed dictatorial leadership qualities. People often forget when to establish boundaries and not cross the line that separates leadership from dictatorship.

Even in organizations, we see leaders who rely on an authoritative leadership style. Read on to understand how to differentiate between the two approaches and ways of practicing effective leadership.

Leadership Vs Dictatorship: Why Learn The Difference

One of the things that are highly valued at the workplace is how leaders manage teams and delegate responsibilities. Leadership qualities determine the success of an organization. An important function of management, it helps organizations maximize and achieve goals.

There will be times when you’re forced to take control of things and you may end up monopolizing decision-making while being dismissive of alternative viewpoints. For instance, you may end up micromanaging your team because they were unable to meet their previous deadline. When that happens, you would be practicing dictatorial leadership. 

While circumstances may force you to assume that dictatorial leadership is a healthy way of managing and leading your team, here are several reasons that will change your opinion.

  1. Everyone’s Morale Gets Affected

The dictatorial leadership style is focused on minimizing second chances—not leaving room for mistakes. Because of the high expectations, if someone performs poorly, they are reprimanded. This may discourage people and affect the morale of your team.

  1. Too Much Dependence On You

As a leader, if you don’t allow your team to think for themselves, they’ll end up relying on you for every little thing. They’ll be afraid to think out of the box and provide diverse perspectives. This will further create echo chambers, minimizing innovative thinking and risk-taking.

  1. Your Way Isn’t The Right Way

As an authoritative team leader, you may think that your way is the only way a task can be performed. If someone doesn’t meet your expectations, you’re likely to get upset with them. You may provide negative feedback, hoping that things will improve.

Signs That You’ve Embraced Dictatorial Leadership

It’s absolutely healthy to uphold certain standards of work and expectations from your team—especially when it comes to strategic and task-level participation. However, you’re bound to lose everyone’s support if you don’t know the difference between leaders and dictators. Here are some examples of dictatorial leadership at work. You should keep a check on these signs and patterns:

  • You believe that fear is a good motivator for productivity and the only way to fulfill targets is by maximizing employee panic.

  • Your priorities start and end with work and you don’t make room for other commitments beyond work; there’s a lack of work-life balance.

  • You have a difficult time admitting that you’re wrong or have made a mistake; you also find it difficult to take accountability for your team’s actions.

Lead By Example, Not Fear

You’ll come across different types of people who will be a part of your team at some point. You have to keep an open mind because not everyone has the same skill set or expertise. If you want your team’s respect, earn it, instead of demanding it. Here are some ways to motivate your team constructively:

  1. Actions Speak Louder Than Words

It’s always a good idea to communicate your expectations in advance. Moreover, if you want to set certain standards, set the tone through your actions. For example, if you come in and start work early, your team will get motivated to follow in your footsteps.

  1. A Pat On The Back

Negative feedback can be extremely discouraging and is bound to affect team members. Dissatisfied employees are likely to quit, leading to a rise in turnover rates. Always remember to provide constructive feedback and celebrate wins—whether they’re big or small.

  1. Keep Your Door Open

Show others that you are approachable and accessible by keeping your door open, literally! Some people may find it difficult to approach you because they’re scared of you. The onus of improving the communication channel rests on your shoulders. Make your open-door policy as explicit as possible.

  1. Cancel The ‘I’m Too Busy’ Card

Some days are really hectic when you’re too busy to communicate or collaborate with your team. But if this becomes a pattern, then you’ll come off as dismissive or someone with poor time management skills. If you struggle to make time, reach out to your employee the very next day.

  1. All Work And No Play?

Most managers and team leaders tend to prioritize work and don’t allow space for fun. You need to get rid of this ‘all work and no play’ mentality if you want to see your employees happy and satisfied at work. Don’t hesitate to take your team out for lunch or entertaining events that will help them relax and bond with you outside professional settings.

Harappa Education’s Leading Self course has some powerful frameworks that’ll help you become more self-aware and become the best possible version of yourself. The Balcony & Dance Floor framework will teach you everything about effective leadership—when to take charge and when to delegate responsibilities. Be the leader who everyone aspires to be!


Explore topics such as What is LeadershipLeadership Qualities & Types of Leadership from Harappa Diaries and become a reliable leader.

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