Bill Withers

Professor of Journalism and Communication

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More about Bill Withers

Dr. Withers holds a B.A. degree in communications from Winona State University, an M.S. degree in journalism and mass communication from Iowa State University, and a doctorate degree from Drake University. His research interests lie in the areas of public relations, quality customer service, organizational change, and leadership. Withers has more than two decades of management and leadership experience in both business and education, and his research has been presented multiple times at the International Conference on Business in Honolulu. He has both studied and served organizations such as Procter & Gamble, Ritz-Carlton, Disney, Hy-Vee, and Starbucks. Closer to home, Dr. Withers is the recipient of both the Chellevold Award for Teaching Excellence and Advisor of the Year award. He specializes in the areas of public relations, quality customer service, organizational change, and leadership and is a frequent speaker and consultant outside of Wartburg. His family includes his wife Linda, and their son and daughter, Andrew and Emma. They reside in Waverly, Iowa.

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I approach leadership studies from the perspective that those who wish to not only understand and learn, but also evolve into more effective leaders, must understand ‘the journey.’ We talk about leader-lives as a series of processing events, over time, and how we respond and grow from those. One will never fully understand or grow through those experiences unless the individual understands what I call their “Leader DNA,” how they’re “wired” and what their strengths are. So, I ask each student to begin by identifying (rigorous assessment) and reflecting on their strengths and personality traits; we then study leadership models and theories, then explore how their strengths and traits can be maximized. Servant Leadership is a theory-base we tend to “orbit” quite a bit, as it articulates best how effective leaders look after the needs of others so that they reach their full potential. A strength of this way of looking at leadership is that it forces us away from self-serving, domineering leadership models, and makes young, emerging leaders think harder about how to respect, value, and motivate others as part of ‘their journey.