This story was written by Rawls Business Leader Amanda McIntire.
The Rawls Business Leadership Program recently hosted guest lecturer Morris Wilkes. Wilkes was born in Lubbock and grew up on a farm in northern Lubbock County. He graduated from Texas Tech University with a journalism degree and a minor in speech communications. He spent 13 years in the radio broadcasting business, served eight years as executive assistant to Texas Senator John T. Montford and the chief clerk of the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee, and was vice president of public affairs for Cox Communications. Additionally, he served President George W. Bush and the White House as a lead advance representative from 2001-2009. During 1999, 2000, and 2004, Wilkes traveled the United States on George W. Bush's presidential campaign trail. Currently, he is owner of The Wilkes Company, a strategic communications, public affairs, and political consulting firm.
During his visit, Wilkes discussed his outlook on leadership - more specifically, influential leadership. Influential leadership refers to the idea that we may not always understand how we impact those around us, but our influence on those around us is what makes us all “leaders.” As students discussed the different people that they look up to, it became apparent that those people all possessed characteristics of a leader. “Integrity, stand-out, taught, authentic, risk, values, and never settle” are all phrases students used to describe the people in their lives.
Throughout his lecture, Wilkes' lesson was clear; whether you know it or not, you are constantly being influenced by those around you and those around you are being influenced by you. By deciding to be a positive influential leader for those around you, you are taking advantage of a phenomena that is already present. As Mr. Wilkes stated “you don't have to be a person of influence to be influential, most people don't even know they're influential.”
As students look into business professions, they are often reminded that relationships are important throughout life and business. Wilkes provided a different perspective on how relationships and people are important, as well as the way we treat others during our career paths. These lessons culminate into Wilkes' final and most important message: people are more important than material objects.
More about Morris Wilkes
Wilkes is married to Dr. Kitty Harris Wilkes, and they have two children, Laura and Cliff, and two grandchildren, Andrew and Ava. Morris and Kitty are active in a variety of community and public service activities. They are members of Lakeridge United Methodist Church of Lubbock.
Wilkes is a member of the Rotary Club of Lubbock, where he has served in a variety of leadership positions, including president, vice president, director, and committee chairman. He currently serves on the Texas Tech University College of Media and Communication National Professional Advisory Board and is a member of the Texas Tech Alumni Association National Board of Directors.
Morris has been named as an Outstanding Alumnus of the Texas Tech University College of Media and Communication and a Distinguished Alumnus of Leadership Lubbock. In 2005, he was named Public Affairs Professional of the Year by Cox Communications. He is a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International.
Morris has previously served on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Lubbock and the Board of Directors of the United Way of Texas. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Texas Good Roads and Transportation Association, as vice chairman of the Lubbock Centennial Committee, on the board of directors of the Lubbock Area Foundation, and as a member of the City Of Lubbock Transit Advisory Board.This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.