A person who wants to make something of his life needs to take action. He initiates action when he feels confident about himself. It is important for him to understand what action can produce a desired outcome and to have the confidence that he can actually produce the desired response. This belief that the capability to act in the desired manner exists in him is the result of the relationship he shares with the leader.
When I think of such a relationship, what comes to my mind as the most powerful example is the relationship between a teacher and a student.The impact that a teacher can have on students has always left me amazed. It has led me to believe that a teacher can be a very influential leader in a student's life if the relationship between them is characterized by certain qualities.
Carl Rogers, a famous humanistic psychologist, in his ‘Client-Centered Therapy' used the terms ‘empathy’, 'non-judgmental attitude' and 'unconditional positive regard' to describe the relationship between a therapist and a client. The leadership process between a teacher and a student can be understood in the light of these qualities. The quality of 'empathy' is the building block of the relationship as a student feels understood by his teacher. Pagonis in his article on leadership talks about the importance of the leader being empathetic. When the teacher gives feedback about behavior instead of a judgment, a student drops his defenses and develops insight into his weaknesses.The more non-judgmental the teacher, the better he is able to create an environment of openness and receptivity for maximum learning to take place.Through his empathy and non-judgmental attitude, the teacher helps the student clarify his values and goals in life. Zaleznik also talks about the role of sensitive and intuitive mentors in the development of leadership. Teachers can be these mentors who are not only leaders themselves but who develop their students into leaders too.
Therefore, individuals who find themselves in such a positive relationship with their teachers have great confidence in their ability to make changes, to remain committed to goals, to overcome difficulties, and to exercise control. Those who lack confidence in their own ability to influence things lack the motivation to even make a try.
However, there are many teachers who can have a very negative impact on the student .A teacher who is not empathetic and does not try to look at the student’s perspective, leaves him emotionally untouched. To add to it he may be judgmental and label the student, in which the student might find himself trapped for life. A teacher who treats him worthy of regard based on his performance, may leave him to question his value as a human being.