n Journal of Public Administration - Contemporary perspectives on autocratic leadership

Volume 46, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Perspectives on leadership and leadership styles have gone through a gradual metamorphosis with particular regard to definition and pattern. They have acutely shifted from profoundly classical paradigms to very liberal democratic, if not participative ones. Different situations or times propel specific forms of leadership and approaches. However, it is critical to note that different leaders, whether in the public or private or semi-government sector, rely on leadership styles that make their organisations work. An autocratic leadership style is viewed as very outdated. It is, however, still alive in many post-colonial states and public organisations where the leader views himself as a commander who, therefore, must not be challenged with regard to his power and authority. This type of leadership is usually associated with professional brutality and cruelty. Many post-colonial African leaders are guilty in this respect. Democratic leadership fosters decentralisation of authority and responsibility. The main objective of this paper is to examine autocratic leadership with specific reference to characteristics, merits, demerits, factors that inhibit transition to democratic leadership and, finally, principles that can influence positive transition to democratic leadership. Most post-colonial states on the African continent have adopted an autocratic leadership style at some stage.

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