Paternalistic Leadership with Benevolence, Authoritarianism and Morality Together

Now that Chinese management is characterized by governance under rituals and laws together, good Chinese leaders must be paternalistic ones with benevolence, authoritarianism and morality together. This is what Farh and Cheng (2000) called ―paternalistic leadership‖. Being kind and authoritative alike indeed is commonly known as the art of playing patriarch and matriarch at the same time. A good leader knows that playing patriarch is as needed as is playing matriarch in the organization. In other words, he/she knows how to balance power and trust. On the one side, the

―authoritarianism‖ of a good leader is based on stringent law enforcement. The leader should know when to adhere to the principle of ―business is business‖ to suggest that there is no favor beyond laws. Such strict accordance with rules will naturally establish his/her authority within the organization; and the employees will submit willingly to his/her management since he/she deals with them in a fair and consistent manner. Unfortunately, a great many leaders have a misunderstanding of ―authoritarianism‖, as they think it means nothing but being bossy and abusing power. In reality, abusing power will not establish the leader's authority, but will make the employees seemingly compliant but actually resistant to his/her management.

On the other side, a good leader knows the importance of governance under rituals. He/she should keep some room for favor-exchanges and, at usual times, pay more attention to being kind to others. By doing favors at usual times, the leader can make the employees grateful and more willing to help to realize his/her dream. In fact, the art of leadership by being kind and authoritative alike is common also in the west, only that the ―benevolence‖ of Chinese leaders is characterized, to a higher extent, by favor exchanges.

Nonetheless, ―morality leadership‖ is most characteristic of China. The morality leadership in this context, as we have discussed above, of course, does not require the leader to make himself/herself a sage and to advocate high moral standards. Instead, it first means that the leader himself/herself should follow the rules and the culture of the organization, that is, its rituals, or its unwritten, informal norms. In other words, the leader should set him/her a perfect example in obeying the rules and the culture that he/she wants to establish in the organization. This is somewhat like the so-called values-based leadership in management theories.

Fei Xiaotong said that the educational power was an important power that leaders held in Chinese society, where patriarchy was one of the traditions. When a patriarch was judging a case, the most important thing for him was not to determine the ownership of benefits through his wisdom, but to rely on his prestige to set a perfect model example for the people. A leader who holds the education power is similar in status with the queen of the United Kingdom, who need not do too much but only stay high as the sources of perfect morality examples and the educational power.

A leader has many things to do, however, before realizing such do-nothing leadership. First of all, the leader should polish his/her own character and constrain himself/herself so that he/she is able to stand for the culture, norms, vision and values of the organization. By set him/her a perfect example, the leader generally is able to make the employees more confident in the organization and to better inspire them to work hard. That is why the Doctrine of Dynamic Balance takes cultivating oneself as the beginning of Chinese management.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >