Dr. Merlin R. Langley is a clinical psychologist, Associate Professor of Social Work & Division Director of Interdisciplinary Studies at Florida A&M University (FAMU). Dr. Langley served as HBSE program coordinator (1997-2007) and chair of the Department of Social Work (2008-2011) at FAMU. In 2014, he was appointment by the administration to become the Division Director of Interdisciplinary Studies. His research interests and publications are in the areas of leadership in higher education and the professional identity development of African Americans and women. He was awarded a Ph.D. and MS degrees in clinical psychology with a minor in social work from Florida State University, Ed.M in Counseling and Guidance from Boston University, and A.B. degree in psychology from CUNY – The City College of New York. Additionally, he has completed postdoctoral clinical psychology fellowships at the Harvard Community Health Plan and Harvard Medical School, respectively.
Number of years in management: 18
Tell us about your path to management.
My academic background is interdisciplinary in nature. I have, over the past twenty-five years, taught undergraduate and graduate students courses in departments of education, counseling, psychology and social work, respectively. Currently, I am a tenured member of the faculty and administrator at FAMU. In fall 1997, I played an instrumental role in the establishment and implementation of the MSW program in community based social services administration at FAMU. I also was the founding Division Director for a degree program in Interdisciplinary Studies at the only public historically black university in Florida. Lastly, I have been very committed to professional development activities as evidenced by my participation in several leadership development programs (i.e., Leadership Tallahassee, class 20, Florida State University Institute for Academic Leadership and the Management Development Program at Harvard School of Education.
What leadership qualities do you find to be the most effective in reaching your organizational or career goals?
To obtain the support of the university administration in terms of fiscal, human and technological resources to efficiently and effectively achieve clearly defined and measurable organizational goals.
How do you motivate your team members?
To work daily to create and maintain a culture and climate where each team member feels respected, valued and appreciated for their contributions to achieving organizational goals.
Is there a leader or mentor who has inspired or assisted you along your professional journey?
I have over the years had several individuals from diverse backgrounds who were caring and supportive who helped me to build social and political capital to promote my professional and personable development.
How has networking impacted your career?
I am a first generation college graduate and have learned over time the importance of networking for my career. In particular, I have come to understand from various and sundry experiences that it is not the size but the quality of the relationships that is most important amongst the individuals that make up the network.
What are you reading and/or following now (book, blog, social media groups, etc)?
The Go – Giver: A little story about a powerful business idea
By Bob Burg and John David Mann
Leadership: In Turbulent Times
By Doris Kearns Goodwin
What advice do you have for those beginning their professional journey or who are already in leadership positions?
My advice is to make a commitment to improving your interpersonal and management skills. I also recommend that you focus your energy on hiring people who have demonstrated social interest through their behavior and whose professional experiences demonstrated a commitment to helping the team achieve stated organizational goals.
Do you have an initiative or project you would like to tell our readers about?
The Division of Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) is a part of a new strategic initiative at the university designed to increase retention and degree completion rates at the only public HBCU in Florida. To date, IDS in four years has graduated approximately 1,000 students. I want to encourage your readership to consider completing your college education in the Division and the university discover what you can become.
What do you wish you had known before you started your career?
The importance of finding a career that is meaningful and provides opportunities to support others and their efforts to transform for the better their lives and future generations.
Share a mistake or failure that provided the most growth in your career.
I have experienced several in my professional career and life. I have learned that mistakes and/or failures represent opportunities for me to reflect on my values, reexamine my beliefs, and reset the direction and course of my life.
Where can people reach you for questions (LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter)?