At the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, Dr. Al Goethals’ is known for taking learning outside the classroom. He’s taken classes to the Gettysburg battlefields and the estates of U.S. presidents. In spring 2018, he added a new, more local stop. On March 20, students Goethals’ Theories and Models of Leadership class visited the WTVR CBS6 news station to explore the practical side of leadership and the critical need for leadership in every industry.

During their regularly scheduled class time, Goethals and the students took a bus to the broadcast news station, located just five miles from campus. For the afternoon, the station would serve as a laboratory for the juniors in the required leadership studies course to connect theory to practice.

“Since this is a class that focuses on theories of leadership, it can be easy to get caught up in the theoretical and forget the practical applications of these concepts,” says Caroline Noonan, a junior double-major in leadership studies and English in the class.

Station Manager Stephen Hayes started the visit with a tour of the building, explaining how the station operates. As the students walked past reporting desks and office spaces, Hayes discussed how the building was arranged to create a productive and efficient work environment.

Following the tour, students sat down in the studio for a presentation and a question-and-answer session with evening anchor Bill Fitzgerald, meteorologist Zach Daniels, and Steve Young, the local sales manager. Hayes shared that the news station employs 140 people, over half of whom are assigned to news. He also described how the station seeks to serve the community, its employees, and its advertisers. The conversation drove home familiar themes for Jepson School students, including empathy and management styles. Students asked about reducing and dealing with workplace conflict and fostering a positive company culture.

“I think the visit really highlighted the importance of and value in creating a supportive workplace environment,” says Holly McNaughton, ’18. “It was quite clear that employees not only respected one another, but felt loyal to and supported by the entire organization. At the end of the day, that kind of feeling is what makes employees stay.”

Jessica Nadel, ’18, notes that the class discussed some of the ethical challenges associated with managing a broadcast news station.

“I found it interesting to learn about how leaders at news stations have to constantly struggle to balance between producing excellent news and finding advertisers,” says Nadel.

And for Noonan, theory met practical application during the discussion of emotional intelligence. She points out that the class has been studying emotional intelligence.

“At the station,” she says, “we got to see how emotional intelligence plays into professional life.”