Unstoppable human resource

Dr. Mahfooz Ansari found himself at the University of Lethbridge three years ago in much the same way his two-year teaching appointment in Malaysia became a 12-year commitment - he was talked into it.

Ansari knew Director of International Programs Andrea Amelinckx well through the Faculty of Management's Malaysia Work-Study Program, and was acquainted with former U of L faculty members, all of whom encouraged him to come to Lethbridge. He agreed to a term as a visiting professor in 2006, at the end of which then-dean Murray Lindsay was finally able to get him to commit, and he and his wife made Lethbridge their home.

After teaching in India, Malaysia and Canada, Ansari has had the good fortune to learn and understand a variety of cultures and people. He says Malaysia's population is largely made up of Malay, Indian and Chinese people and, although he says he found students there quieter and not as quick to speak up in class, he enjoyed them all.

Dr. Mahfooz Ansari examines the qualities of leadership in a business setting.

"I have found my Canadian students to be very helpful to the international students in the class. Sometimes the language barrier can be difficult for them all. I see this as being an area included in social responsibility. They are learning tolerance and patience when working with other cultures."

Ansari's master's and doctoral theses focused on leadership so it comes as no surprise that his leadership class is dear to his heart. He has written two books on dyadic leadership that delve into the hierarchical relationship between supervisors and subordinates.

"It's a new kind of research. If a manager has five subordinates, I don't think (s)he can have the same relationship with everyone. With my graduate students, I have good relationships with all of them, but I am closer to some than others," he explains. "A leader is someone who influences a group of subordinates and gives almost equal treatment. But equal treatment is impossible. There are many things to understand about that. We are proposing that you should have a good relationship with all of your members. But the first thing you ask is how is it possible?"

His prolific publications, professional memberships, master's and doctoral supervisory roles, consultancy and training achievements throughout his 30-year career have earned him innumerable awards and recognition.

In the almost four years Ansari has been at the University of Lethbridge, he has presented numerous papers, refereed three master's theses, supervised three master's students and seven doctoral students (in Malaysia) and published 10 refereed journal articles. He still fulfills his regular teaching duties and is also the Area Chair of the Human Resources Management and Organizational Studies department.

"People ask me when I sleep. I tell them I don't sleep," he says, grinning.

His remarkable accomplishments here were acknowledged in 2009 when the Board of Governors selected him as a University Scholar, an honour that recognizes excellence in the areas of research, scholarship and creative performance.

"To be given this award after only being here three years is amazing. That also shows whatever you give, you get. I'm quite happy."