Best Prof: Adam Grant
Associate Professor of Management
Institution: University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Marital Status: Married
Children: One daughter, a second on the way
Education: University of Michigan, PhD, Organizational Psychology
University of Michigan, MS, Organizational Psychology
Harvard University, BA, Psychology
Courses: Teamwork and Leadership
At Wharton since: 2009
Before Wharton: Professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School
Director of Advertising Sales, Let’s Go Publications
Fun Fact: “I am a former All-American and All-State springboard diver and professional magician”
Adam Grant is the youngest tenured professor and single highest-rated teacher at The Wharton School–and he’s also the “it” professor at Wharton these days, having been the subject of a New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story and the author of a new book called “Give and Take.” He has an A-list group of consulting clients, including Google, the NFL, IBM, Goldman Sacks, GlaxoSmithKline, and the World Economic Forum.
His research and teaching can be thought of as the Modern MBAs Guide to Leadership. What is it that motivates employees? How can you influence workers to take initiative and create change from the bottom up as opposed to the top down? Grant’s research focuses on the drivers of work motivation and how these motivations help to improve employee work performance. He looks at such factors as expressions of gratitude and the advantages of introverted leadership.
Grant believes that in professional interactions, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Takers, he says, strive to get much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly. Givers, however, are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return. Not surprisingly, it’s the givers who are the most likely to succeed.
At Wharton, Professor Grant has earned the Excellence in Teaching Award at both the MBA and undergraduate levels.
Professor Grant has so many great qualities. And this may be a strange one to identify, but I’m always struck by his humility (and humanity). It’s actually more like bedside manner, almost like charisma, but more humble and personable. He’s amazing because he’s this incredible teacher, always pushing the class discussion forward, challenging people to go further, but with such a sure, subtle, delicate hand that as a student you feel not only challenged and encouraged to go further, but you also feel so fundamentally safe to do so.
He’s someone who takes such enjoyment in the things he studies, it’s just contagious. He finds ways to make academic ideas accessible through pop culture. He is at once a man wise well beyond his years, and yet tapped into his own youth — and in the end he feels like a leader, a father figure, and an old friend all at once.
It’s a privilege to have had the opportunity to study with him. — Zach Miller, Wharton Class of 2011
Adam is an amazing teacher and friend. In both of my classes with him, he’s shown that in addition to being passionate about his subject matter, he really cares about his students. He also has an uncanny ability to remember the name of every student he teaches. I’ve been struck by his generosity in offering us access to his network if we should ever need it, and willingness to help students with professional negotiations. For this reason, his classes are always heavily oversubscribed. — Nina E. Varghese, Wharton Class of 2011
Adam Grant is among “The World’s 40 Best B-School Profs Under the Age of 40“