Purpose: Drawn upon the perspective of implicit voice theory, the purpose of this paper is to explore the underlying mechanism as well as the boundary effect in the relationship between paternalistic leadership and voice behavior. Design/methodology/approach: Multiple-wave survey data from a sample of 368 employees in China were used to test the hypothesized moderated mediation model. Findings: The findings show that both benevolent leadership and moral leadership related positively to voice behavior, whereas authoritative leadership played a negative role in influencing voice behavior. Employees’ implicit voice belief played a partial mediating role between paternalistic leadership and voice behavior. Furthermore, perceived HRM strength weakens both the mediation relationship among benevolent leadership, implicit voice belief and voice behavior, and the mediation relationship among moral leadership, implicit voice belief and voice behavior. However, the moderated mediation effect of implicit voice belief on the relationship between authoritative leadership and voice behavior is not significant. Practical implications: Leaders are encouraged to behave benevolently and morally whereas to avoid excessive authoritative style at work, so that employees can be encouraged to speak out. Organizations are advised to introduce management practices like training and development sessions and to improve employees’ perceived HRM strength so that the implicit voice belief can be reduced, and the voice behavior can be stimulated. Originality/value: The research provided a fresh theoretical perspective on the underlying mechanism between paternalistic leadership and employees’ voice behavior by unveiling employee implicit voice belief’s partial mediating role between paternalistic leadership and employee voice behavior. Furthermore, the study contributed to the literature of voice by adopting a more integrative perspective and exploring the role of the implementation of the organization’s system, i.e., perceived HRM strength that provided a boundary condition in the above mediation model.