So when Professor of Consumer and Organizational Studies Stephen Sauer, a seven-year Army veteran and specialist in teamwork and leadership tactics, teaches his students about these important managerial concepts in the classroom, they know they’re learning from someone who knows from real experience.
“Spending seven years in the Army as a combat arms officer brought me into situations where leadership skills and working well in teams were extremely important to our success,” he says. “Not many professors have a similar background, so I’d like to think that since I’ve had these firsthand experiences, I bring a different perspective to teaching about them.”
His students certainly agree that he brings a different perspective, in the form of a unique teaching style, which has made him one of Clarkson’s most popular professors.
Sauer began teaching at Clarkson in 2008. He currently teaches some undergraduate courses, but focuses mainly on the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and the Engineering and Global Operations Management (EGOM) graduate programs, teaching courses in organizational behavior, leadership development, and negotiations and relationship management. In the near future, he hopes to create a course on leadership and teams that will dig further into the core concepts that all MBA students learn in the organizational behavior module.
“My favorite part of teaching is when a former student sends me an email looking for advice or telling me that they’re using the skills they learned in one of my classes,” he explains. “It’s so rewarding for them to see it all come together, which makes it rewarding for me.”
Despite his love for the teaching aspect of being a professor, it was actually the research aspect that first attracted Sauer to the profession. “In grad school, people took an in-depth look at issues in organizations. They weren’t just trying to slap a band aid on problems. They wanted to understand the underlying causes and solutions to problems. I liked that idea, and that’s why I became so interested in research.”
Sauer has published and presented many research papers since earning his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2008. His research focuses on leadership and teams, and he is particularly interested in understanding what impact leader behaviors have on assessments of effectiveness and team performance, how leaders’ attributes affect outsiders’ assessments of a team, and how issues of status and diversity play out among interacting team members. All of his research has significant managerial and organizational implications, including how to be a more effective leader, how to build and manage teams, and how biases impact organizations.
Most recently, Sauer has looked at the effects of new leaders and leadership style on team performance, the negative effects of autonomy on self-perceptions of power, and the impact of misalignment of credit expectations and credit allocations on commitment and turnover in organizations. Among his ongoing research topics is a study of how perceptions of task and relationship conflict affect creativity in interdisciplinary teams.
Professor Stephen Sauer teaches MBA students about leadership and teamwork in the workplace.