What’s it: Paternalistic leadership is a leadership approach in which the leader views subordinates as a family. Leaders expect subordinates to be loyal and obedient by controlling and protecting them. It is a fatherly approach, where the leader tries to protect subordinates while encouraging them to grow and be independent. Leaders care about subordinates. They pay attention to their subordinates and keep them happy and motivated. When making decisions, they consider the best for their subordinates.
While it may seem positive, this leadership style may not suit all situations. For example, subordinates may perceive the leader as too interfering because he holds strong authority and influence in the organization, like what a child thinks about the father: what is considered the best by a father is not necessarily the best according to the child.
What are the characteristics of paternalistic leadership?
Several points characterize paternalistic leadership. In the theoretical model, this leadership style is based on three dimensions: benevolence, discipline, and authority, as proposed by Farh and Cheng.
First, the leader is dominant. They are authority figures who know what is best for the organization. Thus, they become dominant and decisive figures. Moreover, they always make the final decision and expect subordinates to be obedient and loyal.
Second, leaders care about their subordinates. They also show respect for the subordinates’ interests or welfare. Thus, they consider how it will affect their subordinates when making decisions. In addition, they encourage subordinates to become better, more skilled, and advanced people. Finally, they provide opportunities for subordinates to improve their skills and knowledge, including equipping subordinates with the necessary resources.
Third, the leadership builds a friendly work environment. Subordinates see co-workers and leaders as a family and vice versa. That results in benefits, such as team-based commitment, cohesiveness, and satisfaction.
Fourth, the leader has a strong influence on the organization. On the one hand, they show subordinates how to achieve certain goals. On the other hand, they establish rules, policies, sanctions, and rewards when exercising authority. Strong influence is also characterized by control, power, and authority.
Fifth, leaders try to maintain close relationships with their subordinates. As a result, leaders are kind and encourage morale. In addition, they also stimulate subordinates to give positive opinions in decision-making.
Sixth, leaders have strong integrity. They set a good example to their subordinates, such as self-discipline. In addition, they place emphasis on fairness and equity in decision-making. And they make a clear distinction between organizational and personal interests.
What are the advantages of paternalistic leadership?
First, subordinates work hard to be independent and skilled. They have the opportunity to grow and develop themselves. The leader gives them the space to self-actualize and provides them adequate resources to do so.
Second, subordinates are motivated. The leader’s attention makes them eager to do and complete the task. They strive to exceed expectations to please their boss, who ultimately puts their trust in them.
Third, subordinates obey. They obey various rules and regulations because they think it is in their interest. In addition, obedience also comes from their respect for the leader. As a result, the organization operates normally with minimal deviation.
Fourth, high loyalty and retention. Subordinates feel their presence is recognized and their needs are cared for. Finally, it fosters high loyalty to the leadership and the organization. In addition, a family-friendly work environment makes them feel at home. Finally, they are reluctant to leave the company because it may be difficult to find a similar environment.
Fifth, the work environment encourages innovation. Giving subordinates the freedom to grow and be independent gives them ample opportunity to explore something new and solve problems. There are many opportunities to be more creative. Finally, it increases motivation for change and innovation.
Sixth, the leader acts as a respected mediator for conflicts in the work environment. As in the family, a father mediates when his children are in conflict. He made a binding decision for his children as a resolution. As a result, the conflict did not become more severe and protracted.
What are the disadvantages of paternalistic leadership?
Sometimes, environments with paternalistic leadership don’t always work. For example, leaders tend to be rigid. They use a conventional approach when making rules and policies within the organization. As a result, instead of making subordinates happy, it makes them depressed.
In addition, paternalistic leadership also has several other weaknesses.
First, the leadership is unfair. Leaders may not be objective when making choices or decisions. They may favor some subordinates over others. It eventually breeds jealousy and hatred, poisoning the workplace environment.
Second, favoritism and rigid rules give rise to another problem, namely demotivation. It increases the pressure and distrust among the subordinates. Finally, they are disloyal to the organization.
Third, leaders use their authority to impose what they think is best for the organization and subordinates. However, the subordinates saw otherwise. Without adequate authority, it is difficult for subordinates to change the leader’s perspective. In the end, it gave rise to disharmony and conflict between them.
Fourth, subordinates depend too much on the leader to pamper them. Superiors dictate too much about what is best for subordinates. Eventually, they don’t grow up to be independent. Instead, they are increasingly dependent on the leader to complete assigned tasks.
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