7 Famous Authoritarian Leaders

Authoritarian leadership has been an effective leadership style that has been examined from two different perspectives, positive and negative. Leaders who are autocratic are regarded as visionaries, and at the same time, dictators, when it comes to imposing rules and regulations. They are known to control people and lead them to follow their directives. Moreover, their policies are strict and oftentimes leave subordinates with no power to go against these rules. In recorded history, there have been authoritarian leaders who have risen to power and influenced many people. Here is a list of the most notable leaders in politics and business who are considered to be authoritarian.

1. Engelbert Dollfuss

Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss held this position from 1932 to 1934. He is known for being an authoritarian leader and refusing to be in an alliance with Germany in a customs union. Although he was lambasted with criticisms from Social Democrats as well Austrian Nazis and nationalists, Dollfuss created an authoritarian regime based on both fascist principles and Roman Catholicism. He transformed Austria into an Italian satellite state. Moreover, he was able to topple his local opponents using fascist-authoritarian lines. In 1934, with the New Constitution, his regime became completely dictatorial.

2. John F. Kennedy

Perhaps one of the most famous presidents of the United States and in the world, JFK was also one of the most loved by the Americans. With years of being in politics, Kennedy was not really the one who wanted to become the president of a country. Rather, it was his brother, who ended up dying in a plane crash. But when JFK was elected as the highest official of the U.S., the world saw him as a visionary. It was under his regime that the first man was sent to the moon, a feat that led to subsequent space exploration. This was made possible by his authoritarian leadership in which he was able to motivate and convince America to support the space program.

3. Martha Stewart

With a billion-dollar empire, Martha Stewart was at one time one of the most famous and powerful women in the world. Her leadership style made it possible for her to be on top of her business to the point that she was also regarded as a scrupulous and meticulous boss. She was also said to be particular with her employees and demanding of them. Her self-made empire was built out of her vision and dream to become successful and she was able to do this using her classic autocratic style. Moreover, she was a great motivator. This is highly evident with how almost every household in America uses her merchandise, from garden tools to bedding. She was also able to make her presence felt all over the U.S. by leveraging the media, from television to magazines. Her style of leadership also had its downside. Years ago, she was found guilty and sent to prison for five months after being found guilty of violating insider trading rules. Today, she still remains an influential figure, both loved and hated by supporters and critics. All these can be attributed to her being an authoritarian leader.

4. Bill Gates

Philanthropist and billionaire, Bill Gates started as a college student, but ended up being one of the richest and most famous tycoons in the world. His leadership style can be considered authoritarian, but in a positive way. As a visionary, he was able to make one of the most important and useful contributions in the computer industry. It was his vision for every household in America to have a computer at home. Microsoft still dominates the software industry despite other competitors. Though he stopped overseeing the day-to-day operations of Microsoft in 2008 to focus on philanthropic endeavors, Gates still continues to be a visionary. He was able to convince other billionaires to share their wealth with the less fortunate with his foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Also, he has the dream of eradicating poverty and AIDS in the world. In fact, he said that with concerted efforts from other people, poverty could be eradicated by the year 2030. He became very visible in his activism and played a critical role in the U.S. response to COVID-19.

5. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Although he was regarded by some as a democratic leader for his non-violent way of advocating his beliefs, he can also be considered as one of the most influential leaders the world has known. He is an autocratic leader because he was able to motivate and convince people to join him in a movement to change the nation. It was his authoritative voice and effective communication style that made people listen to him and believe that he was leading them in a direction that was beneficial to them and future generations.

6. Vladimir Putin

Being the president of Russia since 2012, Vladimir Putin has one strong vision, which is to return Russia to its glory once again. Despite what seemingly looks like a democratic government, Russia is not totally without the autocratic leadership of Putin. This was according to the people behind the Russian president. They say that Putin is on top of the checks and balances in running the country in which most of the laws are not without the consent of Putin. He was able to consolidate power in a central government. Critics have said that the Russian president used intimidation and slander, at least and perhaps other action, to solidify his government. Also, with the help of his allies, he was able to seek a third term presidency by altering the constitution. Most recently, he appears to have taken an active role in an attempt to silence the key Russian opposition leader, Alexei Anatolievich Navalny.

7. Donald Trump

This ex-president would not be one of the most powerful and richest people in the world if it were not for his autocratic style. Not only was Trump able to build an empire in the real estate industry and own several other businesses, but he also convinced people that to elect him the president of the United States. He is known to handle most of the details in running his businesses and knows where he wants to take his empire. Trump has also commended the leaders in Russia, North Korea and China for their strength and power to crush political opponents. These traits, as well as his being frank and decisive when it comes to running his empire, make people think that he is an autocratic leader.

Authoritarian leadership can be regarded as controlling and dictating, but in some situations, this style has brought individuals to great success and power. It can be effective when subordinates or people in the workforce, for example, are inexperienced because being closely watched can make them better members of the team. When it comes to running a nation, such a trait can be positive if the previous leadership was unable to push the country forward. With an autocratic leader to run any institution or nation in need of one, this can bring positive results.

Author Biography
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.