What Is Paternalistic Leadership, And How Does It Contribute To Business Success?

Every leader must include inclusion, equality, and diversity when aspiring for business success. All of them can be incorporated via paternalistic leadership, and this management style is about allowing subordinates to stand on their own.

Though this method does have its drawbacks that can have an impact on employee morale, interests, and performance.

What Is Paternalistic Leadership?

Paternalistic leadership is a leadership approach where the leader considers subordinates as family. The leaders expect the subordinates to be obedient and loyal by controlling and protecting them.

It is a fatherly approach where the leaders try to protect their subordinates while encouraging them to grow and be independent.

Leaders care about their subordinates and pay attention to them, so they are happy and motivated. When making decisions, they consider what is in the best interests of their subordinates.

Though this may seem positive, this leadership style may not be suited for all scenarios. An example is that a subordinate may perceive the leader as interfering as he holds strong authority and influence in the organization.

The Elements Of Paternalistic Leadership

Paternalistic leadership has its traditional roots that are from China and comprises three major elements.

Autocratic leadership

The influence of Confucianism in China can describe the background of autocratic leadership.

This philosophy requires the leaders to have a legal right when they need to discharge their duties and implies each subordinate is to comply with the order of the superiors.

Leaders who follow this style carry out close monitoring of their workers.

Benevolent leadership

This form of leadership also finds mention in Chinese texts. It is a form of leadership that focuses on individuals’ personal and familiar well-being in a holistic and individualized manner. In comparison to the other leadership styles, this is the most preferred leadership style that is preferred.

Moral leadership

This form of leadership is related to the person’s potential to serve as a role model for their employees.

Morale leaders exhibit kindness and are non-abusive of their authority. The main aim of moral leadership is that it aims to be served rather than followed.

The Core Characteristics Of Paternalistic Leadership

Paternalistic leadership is a form of leadership that can successfully pull off management. It follows compassion, empowerment, good organizational skills, and influence.


Compassion is an element bound to increase an employee’s loyalty toward the organization. It is about making sure that the employees feel valued and comfortable.

If you lack empathy and compassion, you will not be considerate to your subordinates.
Compassion is something that cannot be learned. Make sure you include compassion meditation in your daily schedule, as you will be able to connect with your employees’ feelings better.


This form of leadership brings out the best in their subordinates. Being a paternalistic leader, you need to grow and succeed just like a parent would want their kids to grow.

Such leaders empower their followers to achieve their goals and grow professionally and individually.

Empowerment requires a careful balance of micromanagement and full autonomy.

It is not going to give employees a lot of authority with respect to an organization’s decision-making process, and the leader may not have to undermine the actions of others.


In this leadership style, the decision completely lies with the owner, which requires expertise, knowledge, and experience to make such decisions. Being a paternalistic leader, you cannot afford to contemplate your decisions.

The ability to move forward and decide could be an easy task, which will not be the case. With greater power comes a definite set of responsibilities.

The Benefits Of Paternalistic Leadership

Paternalistic leadership is a leadership style that combines authority and influence with moral integrity and benevolence. Below are some of the benefits associated with paternalistic leadership.

  • Subordinates need to be skilled and independent. They have an opportunity to grow and develop themselves. The leaders have the space to self-actualize and are well-equipped with relevant resources.

  • The subordinates are motivated to give their best. The leader’s attention makes them eager to do and complete the task. They strive to exceed expectations to please the boss, who eventually trusts them.

  • Subordinates comply with the orders of the leaders. They are known to obey the rules and regulations since they feel it is in their best interests. Obedience is something that comes from respect for a leader. As a result, an organization operates within the normal range of deviation.

  • High loyalty and retention are other benefits of paternalistic leadership. The subordinates feel that their views should be heard and respected. In addition, it fosters loyalty to the leadership and organization. They are reluctant to leave an organization since they may not encounter a similar environment elsewhere.

Do You Think That Paternalistic Leadership Is Outdated?

Paternalistic leadership is based, unintentionally or intentionally, on the idea that the leader is in a better position to be aware of what is best for an organization than its leaders.

In hindsight, the leader is an expert father figure. In the climate of today, involvement and participation in the workplace are more important than ever, as employees often act in a way that the leadership guru will criticize.

The fact of the matter is that most leaders act in paternalistic ways and are known to make good decisions on behalf of their followers.

It is also true that leaders may be in such a position that they could have considerable information and expertise that others in an organization will lack.

The issue is that when leaders act paternally, it would be better if the followers made them or had extensive input. In such cases, no definite answer exists.

But when paternalistic leadership undergoes an inflated ego, it is seen that the leader becomes dictatorial and makes the wrong decisions.


Paternalistic leadership is closely associated with patriarchy, and this is another form of authoritative leadership. Such leadership is respected in eastern countries like India and China.

The point of consideration is not the decision-making structure but a big community where the leader is responsible for the actions of their subordinates.

Paternalistic leadership advocates the fact that a leader can make the right decisions. It equips the subordinates with the right tools, and they will not contribute much to the decision-making process. Due to a lack of innovation and creativity, an organization may suffer.


Do you think paternalistic leadership turns out to be effective?

It is an effective form of leadership since the employees feel valued and their interests are taken care of. Quality work and good behavior are always rewarded, which helps reduce absenteeism and quitting on the job. Any decisions are made with the interests of the employees in mind.

When is paternalistic leadership used?

This is a leadership style that is closely associated with patriarchy. It can be conferred as another form of authoritative leadership and a leadership model respected in countries like China and India.

What are the reasons why you require paternalism?

People believe paternalism is justified when dealing with someone whose choice is limited or impaired. It may be due to cohesion, ignorance of the effects, and the limited cognitive abilities of an individual. It could also be due to the effects of a disease.

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