Faculty spotlight: Melvin Smith, professor for the practice of organizational behavior

Faculty spotlight: Melvin Smith, professor for the practice of organizational behavior

Posted 6.4.07

Weatherheadlines recently sat down with Melvin Smith, professor for the practice of organizational behavior and faculty director for executive education to learn more about working in a top-ranked department, his current research, and his experiences in Spain.

Q: What is your current position at the Weatherhead School? Did you have any previous positions here?
My current position is professor for the practice of organizational behavior and faculty director, Executive Education. Previously, I was an assistant professor of organizational behavior.

Q: What is your favorite part of teaching here?
Making a difference in the lives of students and workshop participants.

Q: Does working in the #1 Organizational Behavior (OB) Department in the world carry extra pressure or other burdens?
Not really. Instead, it serves as a source of pride and inspires me to give my best at all times.

Q: What brought you to the Weatherhead School?
After I completed the Ph.D. program at the University of Pittsburgh, I wanted to stay in the Midwest. I had a number of opportunities, but the OB Department at the Weatherhead School definitely felt like the best fit for me.

Q: What do you think of the Cleveland area?
I grew up in the Midwest (Indianapolis). So, Cleveland is comfortable to me. It is also similar to Pittsburgh in many ways. That made the move from Pittsburgh to here an easy one.

Q: Could you provide us with an insight into some of your research?
My research looks at how the quality of relationships that leaders create with their employees influences employees' willingness to invest in the social capital of the organization. Or, in other words, I look at how an employee's relationship with their leader influences the nature and quality of other relationships they build that ultimately benefit the organization.

I am also working with Professor Richard Boyatzis on work that examines the physiological benefits of coaching others for their development and growth, when that coaching is done with compassion for the person being coached.

Q: What kind of benefits does your research bring into the world of business?
It helps stress the fact that leaders who create high quality relationships with their employees generate a number of benefits for their employees and the organization, as well as for themselves personally.

Q: I noticed that you served as a visiting professor at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain where you co-taught a senior executive education course on emotionally intelligent leadership. How was that experience?
It was great. I co-taught the course with Richard Boyatzis and Deb O'Neil. It was my first time teaching in another country and it was also my first visit to Spain. So, it was a good experience for me.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time??? What's that?!!! Actually, I enjoy playing the drums, listening to music, and spending quality time with my family.

Q: What is the best book you have recently read or are reading?
I don't know if it was the best, but the most recent book I read (or actually listened to on tape) was The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer.

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