Paternalistic Leadership – Definition | Examples | Characteristics

(Last Updated On: April 10, 2020)

Paternalistic leadership is an administrative approach that involves a dominant authority figure who acts as a man or mother and treats employees and partners as if they were members of a large, extended family. In exchange, the leader expects loyalty and trust from employees as well as loyalty.

Related: Importance, Purpose & Role of Leadership Skills in the Workplace

In some cultures, the term “parental leadership” has replaced the gender-neutral term paternalistic or matriarchal. Regardless of the term used to describe parents, employees working in this national environment understand that the authority figure is best for the organization and the belief that their leader will always be in the best interests of an employee trust Even when employees are heard, the leader always makes the final decision.

“The leader is the one who looks more than the other, who looks farther than the others, and before others see” “- Leroy Aimes

paternalistic leadership is an administrative approach that involves a dominant authoritarian figure who acts as a matriarch or patriarch and treats partners and employees as members of such a broad family. Instead, leaders expect confidence, loyalty and loyalty from employees.

What is paternalistic leadership

A paternalistic leader creates a perplexing environment in the workplace that employees consider their team as a family. The natural human tendency to want to belong to a group. The family has such a head; Companies have leaders who occupy an affiliated position to determine what’s best for the team. Paternalistic leadership is a way in which a leader is equipped to serve the interests of employees and organizations.

Elements of paternalistic leadership

In Asian countries like China, leadership styles are often defined as paternalistic leadership. paternalistic leadership has its roots in China. Accordingly, paternalistic leadership is composed of three key elements –

  • Dictatorial leadership
  • Beneficial leadership and
  • Moral leadership

Elements of paternalistic leadership

Dictatorial leadership

The philosophical and historical historical background of dictatorial leadership can be described by the influence of Confucianism in China. Leaders have the legal right to exercise authority over the followers of the philosophy, and this implies that each follower is obliged to obey his superiors. Leaders of this style of leadership conduct intensive monitoring of staff and leadership is always the ultimate decision maker.

Beneficial leadership

This type of leadership finds its mention in Chinese texts as well. This leadership focuses on the personal and family well being of subordinates in a personalized and holistic manner. This leadership is often the most preferred leadership style compared to the other two styles (dictatorial and moral).

Moral leadership

Ethical leadership is related to the potential of a leader and the moral character of acting as a role model for his followers. Ethical leaders show compassion, respect, treat people honestly, and disobey their authority. The primary element of moral leadership is to serve it; Rather ambitious to follow. Ethical leaders tend to develop the competence of others, rather than displaying their own abilities.

Key characteristics of paternalistic leadership

paternalistic leadership is included in the leadership style that can successfully lead management. It has the following qualities – compassion, good organizational skills, decision making, empowerment and influence.


Compassion is an essential element that enhances employees’ loyalty to the organization. About making sure paternalistic leadership feels valued and comfortable with employees. If you lack empathy and empathy, you cannot relate to the feelings of your subordinates.

Compassion can be learned. A study conducted by the Wisconsin-Madison Center for Healthy Mind Investigations found active compassion meditation to help people to behave more giftedly. So, including compassion meditation on your daily schedule, ensures that you are more able to connect with your employees’ feelings; Creating a trusting relationship with them.


This form of leadership is focused on bringing the best out of his subordinates. As a paternalistic leader, you want them to grow and succeed, just as a parent wants their children to grow. Likewise, these leaders give followers the ability to achieve their goals and grow as an individual and professionally.

Empowerment requires complete autonomy and a careful balance of micro-management. paternalistic leadership does not give employees much authority in the organization’s decision making or does not require a leader to question or undermine employees’ actions.


It is important for leaders to influence subordinates. This style of leadership equips the leader with a lot of power in decision making. paternalistic leadership is not as authoritative as other styles of leadership.

The effects are manifested differently. You can impress your subordinates with your broad knowledge or superior communication skills that make them attractive.

Organizational skills

paternalistic leadership demands good organizational skills. They are equipped with multiple capabilities that help a leader plan, prioritize, and achieve his or her goals.

Decision making

In paternalistic leadership, decision-making is completely in the hands of the leader, which requires skill, knowledge and the possibility of making the right decision. As a paternalistic leader, you cannot think about your decisions.

The ability to make decisions and the ability to move forward can seem like an easy task, which of course is not, because with great energy comes more responsibility.

paternalistic leadership

paternalistic leadership (source)

Limitations of Paternalistic leadership

Failure to participate in decision-making can demoralize employees.
Builds dependence on the leader; As he makes the decision.
Subordinates may be less inclined to seek solutions.
Undesirable consequences; Because some workers may be happy with your decision, others may not.
When roles are not well defined, there can be internal problems and struggles for power.

Examples of Paternalistic leadership


A paternalistic manager develops and improves people by developing their skills and providing them with opportunities that suit their interests and talents. That way, a manager can grow into a strong and loyal employee.

Executive leadership

In the paternalistic leadership style, executive leaders consider employees as important partners and prioritize employees’ needs as a firm that offers lifelong employment, and when a business suffers, it takes a long time to cut isolation.


A government that follows the paternalistic style can either provide free quality products or reduce the cost by subsidizing. They can also pay a large amount of taxes on materials that are considered harmful, such as alcohol and tobacco. The paternalistic government is involved in various rules, regulations and enforcement that govern every aspect of life as a law against gambling.

Benefits of paternalistic leadership

In paternalistic leadership, people may perceive the situation as being democratic because workers are encouraged to discuss and comment and their questions are answered. But the decisions will depend on the top person.

There is a free line of communication between managers and employees that will keep employees feel important and satisfied
There is an understanding that managers want everyone to succeed, which can result in less competition among employees.
Managers are empowered to rule from the idea that they are most capable of making the best decisions for the team, which promotes confidence and loyalty to employees.
Due to high employee loyalty, employees feel they are being heard and their needs met.
The person with good behavior usually receives rewards, often with products and snacks.
Emphasis on employee needs will reduce absenteeism rates and employee turnover.
Most decisions will be taken on the best of staff
Feedback is invited and encouraged, which improves morale and makes employees feel important.
Directors are very involved in an employee’s personal life, which makes the employee feel more connected to the workplace.

Disadvantages of paternalistic leadership

Yet paternalistic leadership has assumed that the leader can make the right decision. It expects very little from its subordinates and does not always equip them with the right tools for enhancement. paternalistic leadership can suffer the organization because of its lack of innovation and creativity and its cruelty.

Issues with employee laws and rights can be cashed and raised.
Employees rely more on the leader than on the general work setting. Because of this, the team can become extremely competitive, with everyone facing attention and affection.
Directors can become blind to their strengths and make decisions that only benefit themselves.
If roles are not defined properly and employees do not know what they need from them, there can be power struggles and internal problems.
Like parents, managers sometimes have to discipline employees in obsolete ways.
Bad decisions from above cause major staff dissatisfaction.
Employees will become more dependent on the employer, which can lead to increased supervision required to work in a timely and appropriate manner.
If loyalty to the manager is not quickly established, employees may have poor motivation.

Take away

A successful paternalistic leader thinks of the big picture and considers how each decision will affect the “family.” Parental leaders value education and social skills, and often go out of their way to give employees opportunities to improve business and interpersonal skills. One advantage of this management style, when successfully managed, is that employees can work harder to complete tasks within deadlines so that they can reach their goals in order to please and honor the parent leader, and sometimes even surpass the family. General Chat Chat Lounge

The drawback of paternalistic leadership is the possibility that the parent’s personality may inadvertently disrupt the hierarchical structure of the family, especially in times of crisis. If the leadership of one parent is unfairly favored by some members more than others, jealousy and resentment can poison the workplace environment and the father or mother will not have the loyalty, trust, and loyalty needed for his or her effective leadership.

Paternalistic leadership is very closely associated with patriarchy. This is another form of authoritarian leadership. This leadership model is respected in Eastern countries like India and China. The focus here is not the decision-making framework, but a larger community where the leader is responsible for his subordinates. Obviously, if a paternalistic leader creates an environment of loyalty through his commitment and expertise, style can be beneficial to an organization. paternalistic leadership is a powerful framework for enhancing employees ‘productivity and motivation, while also promoting skills that do not harm employees’ well-being.

paternalistic leadership

paternalistic leadership (source)

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