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Are You Being Too Soft as a Leader? You Might Need to Try a Different Approach At the core of leadership, we must provide purpose, direction and motivation to our employees — but not everyone is using the right leadership style to offer these things. Here's why you might need to consider a more rigid approach.

By Jason Miller Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In business, strong leadership is often touted as the key to success. However, what if the way we define "strong leadership" is flawed? What if we've been focusing too much on being likable and not enough on effectiveness? That's where strict leadership comes in.

Is it important to be "liked" as a leader? I think it's more important to be respected amongst your team as the leader that provides them the "top cover" no matter what the situation is. A team that knows you have their back when it gets tough will respect your decisions and execute those decisions with precision. I can speak from experience having 14 companies of my own where I implement that model. Let's explore the controversial topic of authoritarian leadership and its benefits.

Related: 5 Ways to Toughen Up as a Leader

What is strict leadership?

Strict leadership is a management style that involves setting clear expectations and enforcing them with consequences when necessary. While this approach may be harsh, it can be highly effective in achieving results. Rigid leaders are fearless in making tough decisions, holding their teams accountable and pushing them to meet high standards.

Being a strict leader doesn't imply being harsh or unapproachable; it entails setting clear expectations and holding people accountable. It means being consistent and fair and not playing favorites. It means pushing your team to be their best and not accepting mediocrity. I often think of leadership as being categorized into three parts: being firm, fair and consistent across the board. This allows the leader to have an approach that is systematic at all times with the ability to be agile at the same time.

Authoritative leadership is not about being domineering and demanding but embodies an inherent respect for the team. Leaders who are unyielding in their approach understand that their expectations and obligations are often necessary for everyone to be successful. Striking a balance between giving support and expecting excellence is part of what makes this management style so valuable; enabling team members to reach their potential while still managing to achieve desired outcomes. A strict leader will do whatever it takes to get the job done, which may inspire motivation and discipline among their followers.

Related: Do We Prefer Leaders Who Are More Like Dictators?

What are the benefits of a stricter leadership style?

Firm leadership can be a highly effective management style that leads to better business outcomes. One of the main benefits of tough leadership is improved productivity. When expectations are clear and consequences are enforced, employees are more likely to work efficiently and effectively. This can lead to higher quality work and, ultimately, better business outcomes.

Another advantage of authoritarian leadership is maximizing efficiency in the team or organization. When everyone is clear on their role and expectations, there is less confusion and more efficiency. Strict oversight ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals. This can lead to a more effective team or organization, resulting in better business results.

Rigid leadership can also encourage accountability. An authoritarian leader holds their team accountable for their actions and performance. This enables individuals to take ownership of their work and strive for excellence. Individuals are more likely to take their responsibilities seriously and strive to meet high standards when held responsible.

Finally, authoritarian leadership can create a culture of respect. While strict supervision can come off as harsh, it can also create a culture of respect. Respect is the foundation of any successful team. When you show respect to your team, they'll be more motivated to work hard and support each other. Respect means listening to their ideas, acknowledging their accomplishments and providing constructive feedback when needed. It's about treating everyone with dignity and creating an environment where everyone feels valued.

When everyone is held to the same standards, there is less room for favoritism or unfair treatment. This can create a more positive work environment and foster increased collaboration and teamwork among team members. By creating a culture of respect, strict leaders can drive their teams toward success while maintaining a positive work environment.

Related: Can You Be a Tough Boss Without Being a Jerk?

Strict leadership in action

Some of the most successful companies in the world have leaders who use an authoritarian leadership style. As a CEO and leader myself, I am demanding of my team at Strategic Advisor Board, pushing them to create innovative, high-quality strategies for our clients. My team knows that I demand attention to detail, which has helped our company pull off some of the greatest strategy builds of our time. Many have said that my own authoritarian leadership style has been vital to building a consulting firm that's different from the rest.

Jeff Bezos at Amazon is another example of a successful strict leader. Bezos is known for his focus on results and willingness to make tough decisions. His uncompromising leadership style has helped Amazon become one of the most successful companies in the world. Under Bezos' leadership, Amazon has become a leader in ecommerce, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Reed Hastings at Netflix is yet another example of a successful strict leader. Hastings has an authoritarian leadership style that emphasizes clear communication and transparency. This approach has helped Netflix become a leader in the entertainment industry. Hastings' focus on innovation and experimentation has allowed Netflix to stay ahead of the competition and continue to grow its user base.

Successful leaders demonstrate the power of a strict leadership style. By setting high expectations and holding their teams accountable, they have been able to drive their companies toward success. While an uncompromising leadership style may not work for everyone, it can be an effective way to achieve results and maximize efficiency in the workplace.

Strict leadership is a controversial but effective management style that can lead to better business outcomes. Tough leaders can create a culture of respect and drive their teams toward success by setting clear expectations, holding individuals accountable and striving for excellence. While it may only be for some, the benefits of improved productivity, efficiency and accountability are almost impossible to ignore.

Jason Miller

CEO of the Strategic Advisor Board

Jason Miller is a seasoned CEO with an overwhelming passion to help other business owners and CEOs succeed. He was nicknamed Jason “The Bull” Miller because he takes no BS and no excuses from the people he serves. He has mentored thousands of people over more than two decades.

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