Prelude to Authoritarian Behavior

Karl Bimshas
3 min readNov 20
Prelude to Authoritarian Behavior by Karl Bimshas

Authoritarian leaders are known to use tactics such as suppressing dissent, controlling media, manipulating elections, fostering a cult of personality, creating a sense of fear, limiting civil liberties, and using propaganda.

Are you exhibiting potential preludes to authoritarian behavior?

  1. Do you discourage or dismiss dissenting opinions within your team?
  2. Do you make decisions in your workplace unilaterally, with minimal input from team members?
  3. Do you insist on controlling or selectively sharing information?
  4. Do you enforce your viewpoint without considering alternative perspectives?
  5. Do you handle criticism or feedback poorly?
  6. Do you discourage team members from expressing concerns through established channels?
  7. Do you supply limited, if any, autonomy to team members?
  8. Is decision-making heavily concentrated at the top, with minimal collaboration?
  9. Do you have tight control over the flow of information within the organization?
  10. Have you created an environment that relies on fear or intimidation?

Check yourself — your leadership effectiveness sufferers with each affirmative answer. Effective leaders stop burgeoning authoritarians in their tracks by promoting open dialogue, supporting independent media, advocating for transparent elections, emphasizing collaboration over individual power, fostering a culture of trust, safeguarding civil liberties, and promoting critical thinking to counteract propaganda.

Here are ways ordinary leaders can and must counteract mini-authoritarians at work:

Promote Open Dialogue:

Encourage open and honest communication. Create an environment where team members are safe to express diverse opinions. Organize regular meetings or forums for discussions on important issues.

Support Independent Media:

Share diverse sources of information with colleagues. Encourage team members to evaluate information from various perspectives critically. Avoid relying solely on internal communications; support external, independent sources.

Advocate for Transparent Decision-Making:

Push for transparency in decision-making processes. Encourage leaders to communicate the rationale behind decisions. Advocate for clear and open channels for feedback and suggestions.

Emphasize Collaboration:

Encourage a collaborative environment that values teamwork. Recognize and reward collaborative efforts. Discourage a top-down management approach and promote inclusive decision-making.

Foster a Culture of Trust:

Build trust among team members through consistent and honest communication. Be transparent about goals, challenges, and the organization’s direction. Encourage managers to trust their teams and delegate responsibilities accordingly.

Safeguard Civil Liberties:

Ensure that policies uphold individual rights and freedoms. Advocate for fair treatment, diversity, and inclusion. Be prompt and transparent when addressing any instances of discrimination or harassment.

Promote Transparent Promotions:

Encourage fair and transparent processes for promotions and leadership roles. Advocate for clear criteria and equal opportunities for all team members. Support initiatives that ensure representation and diversity in leadership positions.

Encourage Critical Thinking:

Promote training programs that enhance critical thinking skills. Encourage others to question information and think independently. Create an environment that values curiosity and continuous learning.

Counteract Propaganda:

Stay informed about the organization’s values and mission. Challenge misinformation or propaganda. Encourage a fact-checking mindset and provide resources for verifying information.

Lead by Example:

Demonstrate the values of openness, collaboration, and critical thinking in your actions. Engage in discussions and demonstrate a willingness to consider different perspectives. Encourage others to follow suit and advocate for a healthy, democratic environment.

Leaders must recognize their pivotal role in cultivating a climate that resists authoritarian tendencies. Small actions consistently deployed have a significant impact. Do your part.

Karl Bimshas

Boston-bred and California-chilled Leadership Adviser | Writer | Podcast Host who helps busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.