Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Teacher as a Leader

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.

Who is a better leader during globalization

Our semester went into session one month ago. During our class, I observed that American students always put forth a lot of opinions and questions in class. This is totally different from what students do in China and Taiwan. In the Chinese education system, teachers teach and students listen, so it results in the students lacking the ability of critical thinking who rarely doubt what the teacher teaches. This made me think about how hard it must be for multinational companies to operate effectively in different cultures. They must change their management system and send some competent employees who know how to lead well in different cultural backgrounds, to other branches overseas. In addition, some countries are not encouraging of female employees, which would be harder for women to obtain opportunities to work abroad.
However, Mercer Human Resource Consulting reported in 2006 that employers sent more females on international assignments than male employees. Why? Are women better leaders? According to Robert, Philip, and Sarah (2004), one of reasons is that local people do not suppose that the behavior of expatriate women is not the same as local women. Additionally, women possess a developed sense of cultural awareness and emotional intelligence. Due to their curiosity, they spend more time figuring out cultural differences, so involvement in a different culture is not a big problem for them. Emotional intelligence makes them adept at reading the body language. They are also self-reflective and reflect how their behavior impacts others, as shown by WJM associates. These traits are beneficial for international assignments.
The above finding is a proof that different circumstances generate different leaders. In the past, people worked in order to make a living. Nowadays, the living standards have been greatly enhanced. People do not worry about their life, so they focus more on the social needs relating to their self-esteem and satisfaction. Therefore, a good leader must be able to enhance the self-esteem and self achievement of his team members. A great many firms have launched branches in China, India, and other Asian countries which can give rise to different cross cultural problems. Women are more capable of dealing with such cross cultural problems, because they possess more of the leadership traits needed for meeting these contemporary business challenges.

Power Source Pecking Order - How Influencial is Each Source of Power?

Throughout the last several months, few topics have received more concentrated press coverage than health care reform - and no doubt this coverage is warranted and necessary due to the implications of any such reform - or lack of reform, depending on whom you ask. In the context of our recent discussion of sources of power, it seemed interesting to consider what sorts of power are at play in this debate.

In a recent WSJ opinion article, David Rivkin and Lee Casey describe the Federal mandates that characterize the plans put forward so far for health-care reform as "profoundly unconstitutional." Their article mentions the Baucus Bill specifically as an example, stating that "[under Baucus' plan] people who do not maintain health insurance for themselves and their families would be forced to pay an 'excise tax' of up to $1,500 per year" (Rivkin and Casey). The objection here has to do with the limits of Congress’ power:

“Taxation can favor one industry or course of action over another, but a ‘tax’ that falls exclusively on anyone who is uninsured is a penalty beyond Congress's authority. If the rule were otherwise, Congress could evade all constitutional limits by ‘taxing’ anyone who doesn't follow an order of any kind—whether to obtain health-care insurance, or to join a health club, or exercise regularly, or even eat your vegetables.”

Now my goal in this post is not to promote my personal opinions regarding health-care reform, but to identify and attempt to qualify the sources of power at play. Rivkin and Casey were attorneys for Bush Sr.’s administration and often contribute collaboratively to the National Review. Given their former occupations, I believe it is fair to assign Legitimate Power to Rivkin and Casey, and, depending on your own particular perspective, Expert Power is most likely in order as well. Although they do not currently hold office, I think that high-level attorneys do hold a level of authority granted by their position and thus Legitimate Power is a fair assignment, and no doubt they are entrenched in the matter enough to be called experts.

What is interesting about Legitimate and Expert sources of power is that they have allowed Rivkin and Casey to make a significant impact on the current conversation regarding health-care reform. I am not certain that these two were the first to describe the aforementioned mandates as a unconstitutional taxation, but they have no doubt taken strides towards unifying the argument and presenting it in fairly accessible terms. Furthermore, the conclusion of their argument has taken center stage in the health-care debate. This seems to be the advantage of Legitimate Power and Expert Power – the conclusions drawn by those with such power will not only be accepted – if they are to be accepted at all – but propagated as well, even enthusiastically.

So what about the other sources of power? Again, not taking sides. On Sunday (9/20), President Obama set the record for number of Presidential television appearances in a day by conducting five interviews on major television networks. Obviously President Obama has Legitimate Power, and, in similar terms as was discussed with Rivkin and Casey, it would be unfair to withhold from him the possession of Expert Power. In addition to these sources of power, though, President Obama has made an additional appeal to Referent Power. Using relaxed and at times vernacular phrasing, President Obama’s interviews, in my opinion, have reinforced his face and voice as representative of health-care reform. What is the result of this appeal to Referent Power? Some say his appearances were “too much too late,” to win over any new hearts, but I also think it is important to note that for those who are convinced by his call and plan for reform, the use of Referent Power most likely would solidify previously held beliefs on the matter. Would Referent Power be enough to change the character of a national conversation? I am not sure, but in this case, I am inclined to say not so much as would Legitimate and Expert power.

So where do Coercive and Reward Power play into the debate? I think they likely exist mainly on the fringes, such as with extremists touting the great rewards of... whatever they support; fill in the blank. The same is true of coercive power – extremists would likely tell of the horrible and inevitable consequences of conducting - or not conducting - health-care reform. Granted, no political pundit actually has at his or her disposal any degree of actual reward or coercive power (perhaps that raises another question: Does describing the result of an appeal to power, even if that power is not actually possessed, in some way qualify as an authentic appeal to that power source?), but if these appeals to power sources can be considered legitimate, I think that far left and far right pundits alike are the only few who make any real attempts at them. Do you consider anything that the more mainstream sources have said so far to be an appeal directly to reward or coercive power?

I have just argued for the existence of a hierarchy of Power Sources, but as a final note, I think it is worth mentioning that like so much of what we have discussed in Leadership Theory and Behavior, situation matters. I think there probably is some form of pecking order when it comes to how persuasive certain appeals to sources of power can be, but that order must be inherently dependent on the circumstances of the appeal. Whereas Legitimate and Expert Power may afford the greatest influence in the health-care reform debate, another situation, even another political issue, would no doubt call for an appeal to one or several of the other sources of power.