Autocratic Decision Making

I alone decide

Autocratic decision-making works well when there’s time pressure, when YOU have ALL the information you need to make a decision, and when your group is crystal-clear on what the execution would look like.

  • Slow – Fast 95% 95%
  • Independent – Collaborative 5% 5%
  • Hierarchical – Egalitarian 5% 5%
  • Private – Transparent 5% 5%

Autocratic means deciding by yourself. Sometimes the fastest and easiest way is to tell the group what to do and how to do it, taking all the responsibility for the result. In absolute contrast to consensus, no members of the group are asked for their opinion, input or invited to shape the decision.


  • Ultra-Fast
  • Unambiguous next steps
  • Conveys strength


  • May miss crucial information or perspectives
  • Overuse lowers group engagement and morale
  • Might create lack of ownership

The Process

  1. Review the situation
  2. Develop options as actions to the situation (Never have only one option)
  3. Make a decision (pick an option)
  4. Communicate the decision with your reasoning to the group who will carry it out 

In case you have your options ready, we have a great jig for you. You can use NextDecision for your steps 5-7.

Common Mistakes, Challenges and Traps

Lack of traction 

You can decide for others, but you can rarely force them to follow your orders. Make sure they understand why you made the decision. Share your thought process and constraints. In addition, make sure they have the capacity to carry out your orders by removing non-essential tasks or de-prioritizing other projects


Yesmen mentality

When you tell people what to do, they often stop thinking for themselves and become accustomed to waiting and following instructions. So if you need to make an autocratic decision, be sure to tell people what parts of the process they can feel free to own and control