Paternalistic leadership is a management style in which a dominant, assertive figure operates as the matriarch/patriarch whom employees must trust, obey and be loyal to.


A paternalistic leader fosters a friendly work atmosphere, where employees see their coworkers as family. The paternalistic leadership style lays huge importance on the needs of employees and the organization.


Moving on from the paternalistic leadership definition, what is the paternalistic management style?


Professionals employing the paternalistic management style are concerned about their workers’ best interests. They treat their employees and even refer to them as family. They expect trust and loyalty above all.


The paternalistic management style involves leaders making unilateral decisions. They inform employees that the decision-makers are acting from a position of competence and legitimacy. Employees are expected to have faith in their leaders’ calls and not question them.

  1. Paternalistic Leadership Characteristics

  2. Paternalistic Leadership Examples

  3. Paternalistic Leadership Style Advantages and Disadvantages

  4. Be the Best Leader You Can


Paternalistic Leadership Characteristics


 The following are the key paternalistic leadership characteristics:


  • Compassion:

    The goal of paternalistic leadership is to ensure that the staff feels respected and at ease. You can’t relate to your employees’ feelings if you lack empathy and compassion.

  • Solid organizational skills:

    The paternalistic management style necessitates excellent organizational abilities. These are a collection of skills that enable a leader to plan, prioritize and achieve their objectives.

  • Decisiveness:

    Judgment is vested in the leader under paternalistic leadership, which demands skill, knowledge and the ability to make swift, sound decisions. You can’t afford to second guess your decisions as a paternalistic boss.

  • Confidence: 

    Paternalistic leadership does not offer employees much say in decision-making. So, leaders must inspire confidence from their coworkers to trust their judgment.

  • Influence:

    Leaders must influence their subordinates. The paternalistic leadership style requires leaders to have substantial influence over their coworkers.


Paternalistic Leadership Examples


Here are some paternalistic leadership examples from different fields:


  1. Corporate Leadership:

     Corporate leaders with a paternalistic leadership style see employees as essential stakeholders and prioritize their interests over those of investors. Such companies guarantee lifetime employment or go to considerable lengths to avoid layoffs when the company is losing money.

  2. Governments:

    Governments with a paternalistic attitude may supply high-quality items for free or reduce the cost of commodities through subsidies. Governments with many rules, regulations and enforcements that regulate most aspects of life are paternalistic leadership style examples.

  3. Administration:

    A paternalistic manager strives to help individuals grow and improve by assisting them in developing their abilities. The manager cultivates a robust and devoted workforce in this manner. This is another common paternalistic leadership style example in business.


Paternalistic leadership style examples of leaders include Jack Ma, Ingvar Kamprad, Jose Mourinho, and Henry Ford.


The following  are some defining aspects of Henry Ford’s paternalistic leadership style:

  • Workers were treated with care and respect and regarded him as a father figure.
  • Workers were more satisfied and worked to their full capabilities when their daily wage increased from $2.34 to around $5.00.
  • Raises were given based on what Ford felt was ‘right’.
  • Within Ford Motor Company, workers had little say in decisions.
  • The company failed to capitalize on others’ ideas.
  • Workers felt as if they were children rather than adults.
  • In 1941, this paternalism led to dictatorship, which started a labor strike.
  • Ford’s son took over as president and shifted the company’s paternalistic leadership style to servant leadership.


Ford’s paternalistic leadership style is a good representation of the model’s advantages and disadvantages, which we look into next.


Paternalistic Leadership Style Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages and disadvantages of Paternalistic leadership are as follows:


  1. High loyalty because employees feel acknowledged and their needs are taken care of.
  2. Good behavior and work are always rewarded.
  3. Reduced absenteeism and quitting.
  4. Decisions are made with the employees’ best interests in mind.


  1. Managers, like parents, will occasionally have to reprimand employees in unconventional ways.
  2. The above sometimes upsets employees.
  3. Employees become increasingly reliant on the employer to complete tasks in a timely and suitable manner.
  4. Staff motivation can suffer if loyalty to the management isn’t strong.
  5. Employee legislation and rights can cause or worsen problems.


There are going to be advantages and disadvantages to the Paternalistic Leadership approach. However, there’s still a lot of potential and the style carries a lot of strengths as well.


Be the Best Leader You Can

Now that you’re familiar with paternalistic leadership examples, advantages, and disadvantages, you might find it easier to focus on the type of leader you want to be. If you want to enhance your personal and professional development, Harappa’s Leading Self program will help utilize your strengths to their highest potential. With our online leadership course, you can become an inspiring leader and even better worker.



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