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Leadership Lessons From Our Favorite Teachers

2. Professor Dumbledore, Harry Potter

Headmaster of the wizardry school Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore is the epitome of a good teacher and manager.

In the world of Potter, Harry and company are constantly faced with life and death decisions. Dumbledore guides Harry and his wizardry peers through these challenges, but provides them with just enough information to ultimately find a solution on their own, enriching their problem solving abilities.

In a small business, it's a good characteristic for employees to have or learn, given that owners cannot be everywhere at once.

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At the same time, Dumbledore is a good example of leaders that are able to "keep their cool," Cornerstone's Raz adds.

"It doesn't matter what issues you're dealing with, you need to keep calm. If the employees see their leaders panicking that just worries everybody, but good leaders will use that chaos or bump in the road as a teaching point," Raz says.

3. Mr. Escalante, Stand and Deliver

Based on a true story of a high school math teacher's ability to gain accolades for challenging the education system, Stand and Deliver's Jaime Escalante is able to make headway with underprivileged students, especially the troublesome ones, in a school where discipline is more important than learning.

Perhaps his challenge is best summed up by Lou Diamond Phillips' line in the movie "What is cal-coo-lus?" Yet Escalante's unorthodox methods in teaching calculus to these high school students eventually prevail.

The 1988 film's message to managers and leaders is one of motivation and inspiration. "In this case we have a teacher that really needed to get the message across to help motivate kids to even get to class," Raz says. "That can apply to a company going through a turnaround or tough time where it looks like the ship is sinking."

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Managers need to show how the goal will affect employees personally, he says. "Let's look at where we're trying to get to and what it means to you personally. Why should you come to work every day?"

Escalante was "getting them to show up and believe in themselves," Raz notes.

Longer term, it shows how taking a leap of faith leads to succeeding in goals.
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