Famous Autocratic Leaders

Many of the most famous autocratic leaders are not people that you’d want ruling over you. They are defined by having as much individual control as possible over others. They rare accept input or feedback, yet demand full accountability from others when success is not found. These leaders make decisions that serve their own needs first and rely on the fear of discipline to motivate others to find the success that is needed. Here are 5 leaders who put authority into their autocratic leadership.

1. Idi Amin

As the third President of Uganda, he ruled the country for 8 years during the 1970s. He became a major general in the Uganda Army after serving in the King’s African Rifles and later promoted himself to a rank of Field Marshal. Much of his rule was characterized by suppression and mismanagement. It’s believed that up to 500,000 people were killed during his years in power. After losing a war with Tanzania in an attempt to annex more land, he was exiled and lived outside of his country until his death.

2. Bashar al-Assad

al-Assad has ruled Syria with what many would describe as an iron fist. His father led the country for 30 years and he has been in control since the year 2000. Although initially thought of as a government reform specialist, he brought sieges to stop protestors and this eventually led to a civil war within his country. He’s been personally implicated in war crimes against humanity, but is currently serving his third seven year term as President.

3. Caligula

Although his name was Gaius, most people know this Roman Emperor just after the time of Jesus as Caligula. He only served for 4 years and was the first Emperor to be assassinated. This is because he worked to increase the personal role of the ruling office. Much of his time was defined by his cruelty and his desire to live in extravagance and sadism. Most of his efforts were to create ambitious construction projects that would benefit himself.

4. Pol Pot

Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge for over 30 years and during a good portion of that time served as the General Secretary for the local Communist Party. Because of this position, he also became the leader of Cambodia in 1975 when his forces captured the capital city. He oversaw a radical transition to forced socialism that included collective farming and forced labor to serve his and his country’s needs. Through executions, a lack of medical care, and the forced work, it is believe that at least 25% of the country’s population were killed during his 4 years in office.

5. Ivan the Terrible

Ivan had a long reign over Russian – over 50 years in total. He oversaw the conquest of many lands and made the country one of the largest in the world at the time. He worked to consolidate power and most of his autocratic leadership style was due to an immense sense of paranoia. There is also a strong suspicion that Ivan suffered from mental illness as well. His rule is often defined by the Massacre of Novgorod, where as many as 60,000 people may have been killed just so Ivan could prove that he was the one in charge.

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