Leadership Lessons From Our Favorite Teachers

Editor's Note: This is the eighth article in a monthly series focusing on business and leadership lessons derived from prominent figures in the corporate sector, and from history, sports, politics, and popular culture.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What can iconic teachers from The Karate Kid, Stand and Deliver and Harry Potter teach us about leadership?

Wax on, wax off? How to pass AP calculus? Turn anyone who disagrees with your business plan into a toad? Not exactly.

Business leaders told us earlier this year that they can learn quite a lot from dramatic action -- the characters in the plays of William Shakespeare , specifically -- and they can learn quite a lot from the Hollywood's most famous teachers, as well.

From creating a culture that fosters innovation and dedication to challenging your employees to instilling confidence, the lessons of some of pop culture's most famous teachers -- both real people turned into screen leaders and fictional lecturers -- goes far beyond the classroom.

In this month's back-to-school inspired leadership article, TheStreet chose five favorite movie teachers to learn from.

1. Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid

Washing old cars, sanding wood floors and painting fences wasn't exactly what Daniel LaRusso had in mind when he thought he was learning how to fight karate, but his teacher (and his apartment super) Mr. Miyagi was adamant this was the only way to train.

It's clear that Mr. Miyagi saw potential in Daniel and realized he needed a bit of self-confidence to achieve his goal of mastering karate.

Like Miyagi, as a manager you are also a mentor and your task is to identify and cultivate high-potential employees. At the same time, coddling professional development is not your role.

Mr. Miyagi had some tough love tactics with Daniel. As a manager, "there's going to be some things employees may not agree with or understand, but once they come through that tunnel ... the lessons learned will be invaluable," says Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner of Cornerstone Search Group, an executive search firm that concentrates on the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.

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Instilling confidence in a student or employee can do wonders for their determination with a task or project. This can be especially profitable if the company is either just launching or struggling.

"As a teacher, I try to set very high expectations for my students. I'm demanding, but fair. The movie really exemplifies that in a way," says Professor Michael Roberto, a professor of management and leadership and director of Bryant University's Center for Program Innovation. "That's what leaders should do too."

Roberto adds that managers shouldn't go so far as to set an environment where failure is punished so much that employees are afraid to try again.

"What you want to see from them in failure is learning and improving. You want to see that they're absorbing the lesson from that failure," he says.

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