The APS Model (Autocratic-Paternalistic-Servant) is one of leadership choice. Leaders choose how they will view themselves as leaders, how they will view those they lead and how they will view role and purpose of leadership. This underlying paradigm of leadership is critical to the understanding and the practice of leadership for healthy organizations.

The following model serves as the underlying structure of the 6 organizational levels as reported by the OLA.
Autocratic is the leadership paradigm most connected with Org1 (Toxic health) and Org2 (Poor health). This kind of leadership is one of “self-rule” where the organization exists to serve the needs and interests of the leader first. This often leads to the oppression of the worker to satisfy the whims of the leader.

Paternalistic is the leadership paradigm most connected with Org3 (Limited health) and Org4 (Moderate health). This kind of leadership is one of the leaders seeing themselves as parent to those led. This parental view of leadership encourages the led to take on the role of children. This leads to an unhealthy transactional leadership that operates more on compliance rather than true individual motivation. Most organizations find themselves operating within this understanding of leadership.

Servant is the leadership paradigm most connected with Org5 (Excellent health) and Org6 (Optimal health). It is the view of leadership characterized by the six key areas of the healthy organization. The view of leadership views leadership as serving the needs of those led over the self-interest of the leader. In this kind of organization all people are encouraged to lead and serve. This produces a community of care where the needs of all are served and the organization is able to put its energy into fulfilling its shared mission.

Parent-Adult-child Dynamics in Organizations
Since most organizations operate within a paternalistic understanding and practice of leadership is it important that we know what that means and what an organization can do to improve.

Parent-Adult-Child Dynamics (based on the concept of Transactional Analysis) suggests that when a leader acts in the role of parent then the workers tend to act in the role of a child. This is an unhealthy situation that accurately describes the communication and interactions within paternalistic (parental-led) organizations.
The Leader as Parent can exhibit two very different parental behaviors:
  • The critical parent...(Negative Paternalistic – Org3)
  • The nurturing parent...(Positive Paternalistic – Org4)

    The Worker as Child can exhibit two very different child behaviors:
  • The rebellious child...(Negative Paternalistic – Org3)
  • The dependent/compliant child...(Positive Paternalistic – Org4)
  • In a paternalistic organization, leaders operate in the role of Parent. Within an Org3 (Negative Paternalistic) environment the leaders often view the workers as less than capable children who need strong guidance and control from the leadership. Within an Org4 (Positive Paternalistic) environment the leaders view the workers as very capable children who continue to need the wisdom and foresight of the leader (a “Father knows best” mentality)

    This becomes self-perpetuating, as each role tends to draw out and encourage the opposite role. This is an unhealthy situation for any organization that desires to develop leadership throughout the organization, empower others to act, and build a community of capable partners to fulfill an agreed upon mission and vision.

    The answer to this dilemma is to foster adult roles that emphasize open, direct communication, partnership, receptive listening and mutual respect. When a leader operates in the role of Adult and relates to the worker in this way, the worker tends then to react in the role of Adult. This is the healthiest scenario...when people at all levels of the organization trust and respect one another and encourage active participation and leadership, the organization as a whole prospers. )

    This is a healthy in which people serve the interests of others above their own self-interest for the good of the organization as a whole. When an organization integrates the Six Key Areas of a healthy organization and works to achieve a healthy adult maturity in relationships...this organization is moving into optimal organizational health.