Paternalistic Leadership

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Health Assured team

27 October 2022

When aspiring for business success, every leader must consider equality, diversity, and inclusion. Each of these can be incorporated through paternalistic leadership.

This management style is all about allowing employees to stand on their own two feet. But the method does come with its downfalls which can impact morale, performance, and interests.

In this guide, we'll look at what paternalistic leadership is, different forms of it, and how to promote it positively within your workplace.

What is paternalistic leadership?

Paternalistic leadership is a management style where a leader considers their subordinates part of a large, extended family.

A paternalistic leadership style channels a patriarch or matriarch approach when managing employees. They expect high employee loyalty, commitment, and performance through semi-authoritarian control.

There’s no specific employee legislation revolving around paternalistic leadership. In the end, a 'parental' leader aims to grow independence, development, and progression for their subordinates.

employees fist bumping during a meetingemployees fist bumping during a meeting

Different types of paternalistic leadership styles

Paternalistic leaders encourage employees to grow their interpersonal and social skills. But ultimately, it’s inspired from the actions and characteristics of the leader themself.

Here are different forms of a paternalistic leadership style:

Authoritarian leadership

This is when a paternalistic manager holds complete control over all decision-making in the workplace. An authority figure will act on their own processes and methods - taking very little input from their subordinates.

These leaders will create a well-structured workplace environment; where rules are strictly followed and internal issues are immediately rectified .

An authority figure will closely watch the output of their team. But, ultimately, they’ll follow a final decision of their choosing.

Benevolent leadership

This is when a paternalistic leader creates a workplace which promotes the importance of personal and social well-being. It's probably seen as the most preferred leadership model of the three.

Leaders make sound decisions which are beneficial for their teams. They outline performance appraisals, rewards, and disciplinaries. And these methods inspire subordinates to comfortably share thoughts, interests, or opinions.

Benevolent leaders may appoint 'decision-makers'. These employees will have some authority but the leader still maintains control on overall outcomes.

Moral leadership

This is when a paternalistic leader emphasises on the importance of respect, harmony, and fairness during work.

Moral leadership presents a managerial approach that’s free from power-abuse. They’re more concerned about the welfare of their subordinates, and take pride in being a positive role model for them.

It’s also about serving others rather than expecting others to follow you. A famous quote linked to moral leaders is, ‘it's not about how many followers you have, but how many leaders you create’.

employees working collaboratively on a projectteam leader presenting to a group

What are the advantages and disadvantages of paternalistic leadership?

When it comes to paternal leaders, it's not all about dictatorships or patriarchies.

It’s about leaders allowing their subordinates to grow in safe environments, with as little repercussions as possible. However, this management style can lead to both good and bad decisions.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of paternalistic leadership:

Advantages of paternalistic leadership

  • Independence: Employees strive towards working independently. They can enhance work skills and knowledge, as they have access to career development opportunities.
  • Consent: Employees see various rules and guidelines as valuable in their own interests. Here, consent comes from a place of respect rather than obligation.
  • High loyalty: Employees believe hard work or loyalty are ultimately recognised and rewarded. This leads to job satisfaction, motivation, and even retention.
  • Creativity: Employees are able to openly express ideas and opinions without trepidation. With the freedom to 'think', it encourages innovation and creativity.

Disadvantages of paternalistic leadership

  • Bias: Employees believe this management style is unfair and subjective. Leaders may selectively favour workers which can lead to jealousy, conflict, and discrimination.
  • Demotivation: Employees end up feeling unvalued compared to 'favoured' This can lead to pressure, even retaliation against a work environment.
  • Autocratic: Employees may be obliged to 'blindly' follow their leaders, as this attitude becomes a norm. It often leads to them feeling unrespected and subsidiary at work.
  • Inadequate: Employees end up being completely dependent on their leaders. They experience feelings of incompetence or underqualification (even if they have no reason to).

employees working collaboratively on a group project

How to promote paternalistic leadership style in the workplace

Paternalistic leadership is a combination of moral, ethical, and reverent outlooks. A paternal leader benefits from incorporating these work attitudes in order to help grow business success.

Let's look at ways to promote paternalistic leadership style in the workplace:

Good organisational skills

When it comes to management, a great soft skill to inherit is good organisational skills.

Being efficient is a key element when it comes to this management style. A leader will help oversee everyday tasks which add up to overall end-goals for work projects.

Thorough delegation can enable you to reach targets efficiently without sacrificing work relations. Trust and professionalism are also grown as a result. Ultimately, employees are able to work in healthy workspaces - helping you to optimise business success.

Compassionate skills

A true leader needs to possess elements of compassion for their subordinates. It ensures their team works in healthy and happy conditions.

A lack of compassion can make or break employee relations. If this is the case, look into offering compassion and empathy training. Sessions like active compassion meditation can help you understand how to present altruistic attitudes.

In the end, compassion helps you stay in tune with personal and social atmospheres - growing strong and trusting work relations.

Decisiveness skills

For paternalistic managers to succeed, they need to equip employees with the necessary resources for their work. Being decisive can help a leader plan, prioritise, and complete tasks.

Paternal leaders should channel decisiveness in all areas. This skill can be utilised in minor and larger company-wide decisions.

Overall, prosperity and success results from good decision-making. Whether these come from leaders or their subordinates, everyone benefits in the end.

Empowerment skills

Most paternalistic leaders strive towards developing the ability and skill-set of every worker. As a parental leader, you need to focus on empowering employees and bringing out the best in them.

Career development doesn't solely relate to employees. The business benefits from succeeding workers as they bring in increased revenue and output. In simple terms, it's about growing them as professional individuals.

However, be wary of the thin line between full autonomy and micromanagement. The ultimate measure of a paternalistic leader is based on how authority or power is delegated. Giving away certain permissions may end up undermining other employees, or even senior managers.

Influential skills

Influence is part of everyday life; it can consciously (and unconsciously) be the driving force behind a final decision.

True leaders will influence subordinates through fair and strong authority. It comes from professional and moral roots - free from personal agendas and bias.

Employees can find ‘influence’ from fellow colleagues or managers, so ensure they manifest ethical and appropriate practices. That way, they'll aspire through the right means, with the best intentions.

Get expert guidance on paternalistic leadership with Health Assured

At Health Assured, our workplace wellbeing team offers expert guidance on promoting paternalistic leadership.

Our Employment Assistance Programme (EAP) is run by clinical experts . They can help you create a plan and support employees in the process with access to 24-7 counselling support.

Get in touch with one of our wellbeing experts to find out more today. Call <a href="tel:08448910352" class="ruler-tel">0

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