We investigated how the two components of paternalistic leadership, namely authoritarianism and benevolence, jointly influenced work performance through their impacts on organization-based self-esteem (OBSE). Using a sample of 686 supervisor–subordinate dyads collected from a manufacturing firm in the People's Republic of China, we found that OBSE mediated the negative relationship between authoritarian leadership on one hand and subordinate task performance and organizational citizenship behavior toward the organization (OCBO) on the other. We also found that the negative effect of authoritarian leadership on subordinate OBSE, task performance, and OCBO was weaker when supervisors exhibited higher levels of leader benevolence. Also, OBSE mediated the joint effect of authoritarian leadership and benevolent leadership on subordinate task performance and OCBO. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.