Impact Of Autocratic Leadership Style On Turnover Management Essay

Human resource is considered a valuable asset for any organization. Good professionals serve as the back bone for constant progress and growth of organizations. Establishment and development of any institute is impossible without skilled employees, even if it is equipped with the updated technologies. Despite of this reality, employees leave their current workplace for want of their value in other setups. They either leave their institute voluntarily or they are compelled for resignation institutional factors. Most of the times it is seen that people join the job on their own will, but they go for ever on institute’s will. Such institutes, at the time of employee resignation, ignore the fact that an employee has left because of the institutional factors rather than individual’s himself. If the turnover rate goes up and remains persistent, decline of institute catches speed. The purpose of writing this paper is to present a scenario and analyze it in the light of literature, discuss the significance of staff turnover, elaborate impact of autocratic leadership style on turnover, and give recommendation to overcome the issue.


I worked in a private nursing school as a nursing instructor for one year. This school was run by a non-nursing director (Masters in international politics), who was owner of the institute as well. She was keeping all the power of every task with herself only, practiced the use of authority for carrying out tasks and had adopted autocratic leadership style in her position. She always used to stick to this single style in every situation and was extremely rigid in her views and decisions. She used to tease faculty members by little things like holding the public holidays, ordering for the tasks harshly, giving unnecessary deadlines, cutting off the break times as “why are you wasting this time, you are paid for it”, bringing changes in teaching modules and strategies on her own will, and so on. Due to her behavior, seven faculty members out of eleven left the institute in less than six months of duration. Thinking for my survival, I inquired every single member who resigned, and I got the same answer as “who can work under such a bossy director”. Although she was getting shocked on the departure of every member temporarily, but on the following day she used to come back with her own usual behavior.

Analysis of the Scenario

In the above scenario, three distinct issues arise, a non-nursing director, throughout use of autocratic leadership style in every situation and consequently its impact on staff turnover. The latter two issues are linked with each other and will be discussed together. Firstly, a non-nursing person who leads a school of nursing is perfectly unfair with the profession, because she doesn’t know even the basics of nursing at all. She is at such position whose task is to provide continuous guidance in the layout of educational materials, courses syllabus, curriculum, platform and teaching modules for the program. A non-nursing person is almost blind to nursing education and practices. She cannot evaluate and supervise the performance of her faculty members with justice and hence cannot give them feedback honestly. In addition, running a nursing school in a traditional way like many other disciplines run, and focusing on quantity instead of quality, may certainly affect the standard of nursing education. In such scenarios, the most nerve-wracking question that clicks a professional nurse’s mind is that, would there be the role of regulatory body in such situation? Should Pakistan Nursing Council (PNC) register such institutes for professional education, or revoke their registration once they know such facts? Surprisingly, this is not the only example in Pakistan, there are other such institutes of nursing which are led by non-nursing directors and deans.

Significance of Staff Turnover

Institutes spend marked amount of finance on their staff members in terms of their hiring, training, orienting, and developing in order to lead them for the desired goals’ achievement. During this journey of progress, the institute faces many challenges and hardships. One of the most evident in these challenges is the age-old obstacle that is realization, and overcoming of employee turnover. The term turnover is generally defined as a movement of staff within or across the organizational boundaries (Wood, 2009). Employee turnover is ratio comparison of the number of employees an organization must replace in a given time period to the average number of the total employees (Deepa & Stella, 2012). Employee departure is quite costly job from the organizational perspective. Advertisements for new hiring, arrangement for interviews, and commencement of orientation program etc., appear much expensive for organization if carried out frequently because of high turnover. In addition to cost, the productivity of any setup is also suffered badly, because management has to accomplish the task by those less number of staff which exists. Insufficient number of staff may not perform as effectively as they could do previously, and the standing reason behind this might be doubling and tripling workload. Moreover, new employees when recruited may not be able to run with the pace of those who are already in workflow, so such slowness may burnout the old ones. Turnover, if not managed properly, may seriously affect the institutional profitability and effectiveness; therefore it needs to be realized as the issue of very high concern (Hana & Lucie, 2011).

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Causes of Staff Turn Over

Employees whenever join any institute; they see their future in it and try to bring the notion of owning the institute into their thoughts. They start their new career with great enthusiasm and tend to work more efficiently beyond the institutional expectations. Sadly, as the time passes on, their zeal of work gradually descends, and they try to escape from their work environment because of several reasons. They search new jobs for themselves to get rid of the one they are despaired of, and ultimately leave the current job. There are multiple factors responsible for such behavior that include low level of salary, workplace harassment, physical workload, and disrespectful behavior towards employees (Wood, 2009). Moreover, poor leadership and non-professional attitude of the manager is one of the leading causes that compel the employee to quit the institute (Weaver & Yanecy, 2010). Poor leadership means when a leader is either inexperienced or may have less knowledge of leadership and management concepts. Such leaders believe in the utilization of their authority and power to achieve institutional goal, and stick to a single leadership style in every situation. In the scenario section of this paper, the root cause of staff turnover identified is autocratic leadership style.

Autocratic Leadership Style and its Impact

Leadership is one of the most important aspects in organizational development. Success of a team, organization, and even that of a whole state depends on the quality of leadership. In the view of Ram and Prabhakar (2010), leadership is considered a factor that has major influence on the performance of organization and employees. The article further adds that leader is a person who gives the direction of what needs to be done, and then guides and inspires subordinates to follow that direction. In the given scenario, more noticeable and prominent issue highlighted is the practice of autocratic leadership style and being persistent to it throughout, which resulted in staff turnover. Autocratic leadership style is defined as an extreme form of transactional leadership, where a leader uses high level of authority over the subordinates. Such leader provides very less opportunities to the team members for making suggestions, even if these would be in favor of the team or organizational interest (Hassan, Shah, B., Zaman, Ikramullah & Shah, I. M., 2011). Though, this leadership style helps the managers and the administrators to accomplish the desired tasks, but the negative consequences that autocratic style bears, outweigh the positive effects and may harm the organization desperately. Many studies have shown that the leadership style determines the attitude of employees working in an organization. Researches reveal that autocratic decision-making approach, also known as central decision making, negatively influence organizational effectiveness (Hassan et al., 2011). This style creates the insight of dissatisfaction among employees, because one of the key features of such leaders is that, they don’t trust their subordinates. Autocratic leadership style keeps high focus on the performance and very low emphasis on employees. They always assume that team members are unreliable, lazy, and irresponsible; they rely on the use of authority, power, manipulation and hard work to get the job done (Goleman, 2000). This article further says that such behaviors of a leader can lead to employees’ self-image disturbance, feeling of insecurity, and dissatisfaction. If the leader persistently practices autocratic style, makes highly centralized decisions, and teases employees through his authoritative behavior, may ultimately force the employees for making their thoughts of resignation. Moreover, Ram and Prabhakar (2010) have concluded in their study that authoritarian leadership style is strongly linked with job dissatisfaction and employee turnover. Moreover, autocratic leadership style highly affects the organizational commitment of employees, which is explained in the following theory.

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Theory of Leadership-Behavior and Organizational Commitment

Organizational commitment is defined as the psychological bond between an employee and his organization, which makes it less likely that the employee would voluntarily leave the organization (Akinbode & Fagbohungbe, 2012). Commitment creates employee’s feelings of devotion towards the place where he works. If the employee is satisfied from his workplace, the bond of commitment will be stronger enough to retain him in the organization for long time. This bond can be weakened by many factors like low salary level, lack of employee recognition and rewards, feeling of insecurity, and most importantly the leadership behavior. Akinbode and Fagbohungbe (2012) presented the theory of leadership-behavior and organizational commitment which strongly favors the negative association of autocratic leadership with organizational commitment. This theory states that inappropriate practice of autocratic leadership style results in four consequences. It creates work place stress which if not controlled on time, can easily lead to job dissatisfaction. Job dissatisfaction is inversely linked with organizational commitment, if one of these two increases the other automatically declines and vice versa. Therefore, if organizational commitment is decreased substantially or job dissatisfaction is peaked up significantly, the employee makes his way to leave the organization. It is very clear from this theory that leadership style has a strong association with organizational commitment. Moreover, it shows that there is a major role of leader in either retaining staff for his organization or compelling them to leave. This theory can be reasonably suited to my scenario, because there the leader’s behavior was extremely authoritarian. Through her attitude, she made the atmosphere full of stress and dissatisfaction for employees, which decreased their organizational devotion. Multiple studies have supported this theory as Tsai (2011) says that satisfaction level of staff is strongly linked with the supportive and caring behavior of their managers. If a person is financially and psychologically satisfied from his organization, he will always be retained in the firm he is employed.

Recommendations and Strategies

Knowing the fact that employee turnover has considerable impact on the performance and reputation of institutes, and frequent recruitment costs a lot for the institutes; it is necessary for the management to identify and address the causes of turnover. The higher management must analyze every reason of staff turnover for the initiation of proper actions to overcome the underlying issue. In the given scenario, main reason of turnover highlighted is the inappropriate leadership of the nursing school. In the description here, inappropriate covers two aspects of leadership: (1) non-nursing leadership and (2) the autocratic leadership style which should be addressed properly. According to Pakistan Nursing Council (PNC) criteria (2009), the head of any nursing school must be titled as “Principal” or “Dean” and he/she must be PhD in nursing. Even though, this perfect rule exists, Pakistan is densely mushroomed with nursing schools in which most of the Deans/Directors are not even qualified as masters in nursing. Besides this, there are multiple schools of nursing in Pakistan which are run by people of other disciplines who do not even know about the profession, still these schools has got PNC registration. Non-nursing leaders (directors of schools) are not able to fulfill the demands of this valued professional education and this may affect the quality of nursing education badly. Moreover, they create stressful environment for nursing instructors by imposing their own ways of teaching other nursing, and do not allow the instructors to practice the standards required for nursing education. It is possible that the regulatory body (PNC) might have received false faculty Performa and credentials at the time of registration from such schools led by non-nursing people. To avoid such issues, it is suggested that PNC should fairly assess the school intended for registration from every perspective. Most importantly, PNC needs to maintain regular follow-ups of nursing schools either annually or biannually. In addition, PNC should be made such an independent body which cannot be influenced by political factors.

Adoption of transformational leadership style

Leadership style is the first significant factor for influencing the employees. It is strongly recommended for a leader to adopt suitable leadership style according to the situation for effective decisions. The transformational leadership (TL) style is most appropriate and motivating for staff members because it can accommodate employees with different capabilities at different situations. According to Sullivan and Decker (2009), transformational leadership style inspires and motivates the employees, emphasizes the importance of relationship between the employees and managers, and focuses on merging the desires, values, and goals of leaders and subordinates to a common cause. Tomey (2004) has described four components of transformational leadership style i.e., inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, idealized influence, and individualized concentration. These leaders provide the followers with a sense of meaning and challenge through shared mission and vision to work optimistically with the spirit of team work. They focus on problem’s solution rather than blaming people for creating problems. They are very flexible, encourage the followers for coming up with innovative ideas and appreciate their creativity with respect (Tomey, 2004). In addition, transformational leader trust and admire his employees, and provide preference to their needs over the leader’s own needs. Transformational leader behaves in a way that is expected from his subordinates to behave, and presents himself as a role model for them. Moreover, TLs pay special attention to individual’s needs and values, and always treat their followers according to individuals’ talent and knowledge (Tomey, 2004). In contrast to autocratic leadership, TLs focus on the commitment, emotional, and developmental needs of employees rather than the task only. Different studies have found a strong association between job satisfaction and transformational leadership style (Ram and Prabhakar, 2010).

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In my scenario, there is highly centralized relationship between the leader and subordinates; this increases the distance between the leader and employees, which at times considered demotivating for the followers. On the other hand, encouragement of employees to practice leadership and involving them in problem solving and decision making process make them realize their value and enhance their psychological well-being. As aptly said by Lyons and Schneider ( 2009) that transformational leader inspires the subordinates and utilizes the legitimate power in such a way to instill a belief that subordinates also have the ability to do exceptional things. It is strongly suggested for novice leaders to attend proper training sessions, gain necessary knowledge of leadership and management concepts, and seek regular guidance from an expert advisor. The institute which I had worked in, if that leader has adopted the flexible TL style, seven staff members wouldn’t have left the institute in six months.

Apart from leadership styles, there are many other strategies for overcoming staff turnover. Primarily, the basic needs of employees must be addressed, those include timely increment in salary, providing health benefits to the employees along with spouse and children, and secure environment at work place. In addition, professional growth and empowerment of both employees and leaders need to be considered. Nursing leaders must be flexible enough and should favor , arrangement of teaching-learning workshops for instructors within the campus; instructors should be sent to other gold standard institutes (like AKU) within the country for short courses and trainings related to teaching. According to Ongori (2007), “Empowerment of employees could help to enhance the continuity of employees in organizations. Empowered employees where managers supervise more people than in a traditional hierarchy and delegate more decisions to their subordinates” (p. 52).


Job satisfaction and overcoming employee turnover are the key factors to successful growth of any organization. There are several contributing factors that influence employee retention of nursing instructors and compel them to leave their organization. This is a well-studied fact that frequent recruitment is a costly job for any organization, so different strategies must be taken into consideration to control staff turnover. Multiple researches have come up with the result that leadership style has a strong association with staff satisfaction and turnover. A supportive, interactive, and employees focused leadership style must be adopted by a leader to enhance the employees devotion towards the organization. Transformational leadership style has been proved to be effective for organizational commitment of employees. In addition, the nursing leaders should be equipped with the updated knowledge, training and skills of keeping their employees satisfied with their jobs to avoid the issue of turnover. Professional respect and admiration need to be given by the management, so that the organizational commitment is achieved. Moreover, PNC needs to be vigilant of such schools that are led by non-nursing persons, and should take prompt actions against those.

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