• Maureen O'Toole

Father May Know Best

What I’m Thinking About: Paternal Leadership Style

In an organization led by a paternal leader, a “dominant male applies his organizational power to lead a group. The leader follows a fatherly managerial approach where he uses his position to control, guard, punish and reward his subordinates or followers, who are expected to remain faithful to him.” (Reference.com) Many organizations have a male in a leadership role whose style is paternalistic. A paternalistic leader may discuss things with his staff but makes the majority of the decisions. He provides incentives for “good” behavior and punishment for “poor” behavior. The paternalistic leader expects loyalty to him and the company.

Why You Might Be Thinking About This: Paternalistic Leadership Has a Place in Business

A paternalistic leader makes decisions with the best interest of the employee in mind, protecting and guiding teammates. This leadership styles works well in an organization that has been dealing with high employee turnover and/or is recovering from a negative, punitive leadership style. The paternalistic leadership style works well in an organization that uses highly systematic processes and procedures. This style works well when working with young children – pre-teen years – as well as in sports coaching.

Why It’s Worth Thinking About: In Some Cases, However, It Couldn’t be “Father” from the Right Style

The “fatherly advice” and “your job is to follow” aspects of a paternal leader don’t work well in some business environments. Employees may feel valued but also frustrated due to little power in decision making. When working with employees with a high degree of creativity, who seek flexibility and benefit from independent decision-making, this style will stifle team members. This leadership style does not work well when team members have highly specialized skills, engage in self-directed behavior, have high emotional and intellectual maturity, and are adept problem-solvers. These top performers don’t need a “dad” at work, they just need encouragement and support.

Would the paternalistic leadership style work well in your business?

Do you know your leadership style? The Sandbox Group is ready to help you. How are things in your Sandbox?

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