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Leadership Style: Autocratic

When an individual's competence is low and his/her motivation is low as well, he/she is considered an apathetic follower and the appropriate leadership style to use is Autocratic.

Style Description

This leadership style is characterized by tight control and careful monitoring of responsibilities and tasks. The leader in this case “tells” the person exactly what needs doing and then continually checks on progress to ensure the successful completion of tasks. This leadership style requires you to use your formal authority (if you have it) as well as your informal influence to try to “jump start” this unenthusiastic follower.


You will need to remind the follower of your authority and your willingness to take action if the follower’s low competence and low motivation continue. This style is difficult and time consuming as it requires your constant attention. You should spell out the consequences of continued substandard efforts. You may have to resort to breaking tasks into smaller more manageable parts and maybe even providing written instructions. Discipline is looming unless this follower improves. The key strategy is to try to re-motivate this follower – find something to get his/her interest. It is only by “jump starting” his/her motivation that he/she will begin to develop greater competence. You can motivate by showing the positive consequences of improved behavior and if that fails, the negative consequences of poor behavior. Be careful not to allow this individual to continue at his/her level of performance for long as doing so might demotivate the rest of your team.

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