Enoch Opoku Antwi, now in his third year teaching leadership and management in Viterbo University’s Dahl School of Business, might be a born leader. There’s no doubt, however, that leadership was thrust upon him and that he has made the most of it.
Growing up in Ghana the oldest son in a family of five children, Antwi slept on the floor until he was 12 years old and attended a primary school that had no electric lights. His parents divorced before he was a teenager, and he had to step into the void as a breadwinner and father figure for his siblings.
“That was when leadership was thrown upon me,” said Antwi, who recently published his fifth book, Servant Leaders: The Greatest Among Us from Research to Practice: This is Why. “From a tender age I realized I had to care for my family.”
As a teen, he performed all manner of menial labor to help provide for his family and raise them out of poverty. Now all of his siblings have at least a master’s degree and are engaged in successful careers. “The bad news is they are all richer than me,” Antwi said with a laugh.
Antwi’s father was a teacher and Enoch means “dedicated teacher,” so it makes sense he would become one. “All my life I have known that my calling is to teach,” said Antwi, who lives in Holmen with his family.
Before he had even earned his bachelor’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, Antwi had started his life as an educator, responsible for teaching nine subjects to a class of 61 fourth graders in Ghana.
Antwi earned master’s and doctoral degrees in leadership studies from Mount St. Joseph University and Indiana Wesleyan University, respectively, and began his career in academia in 2011 as chair of the business management department at a for-profit college in Kentucky. Even with his work in the business world, teaching and training have been a huge part of his career, including in the business consulting firm he formed in 2000.
Since coming to Viterbo in fall 2019, Antwi has demonstrated a strong ability to connect with students, said Tonya Wagner, dean of Viterbo’s College of Business, Leadership, and Ethics. “In his classroom there’s such a sense of trust, and that’s not something you always see,” she said. “His students really appreciate him. They’re engaged. They kind of hang on his words.”
Wagner also said Antwi is a walking example of what it means to be a leader. “Everything he does he does with a sense of commitment to his community,” she said, “and ‘community’ is broadly defined. He has these interlocking worlds and each life that he leads bolsters his other lives.”
Antwi shares his expertise and perspectives on leadership with audiences around the world through webinars and other virtual presentations, and he’s especially dedicated to improving the quality of leadership in Ghana and the rest of the African continent, serving as a mentor to leaders and evangelizing for the adoption of servant leadership. “Africa has all the resources in the world, but we need to change the culture of leadership,” Antwi said. “The good news is that people realize we need leadership.”
Over the Christmas holiday break, Antwi returned to Ghana for a presentation at the Sundoulos Advanced Leadership Training Institute, which conferred upon him the title of global goodwill ambassador for leadership and diplomacy. “As a global icon in leadership, we are proud to be associated with your brand,” a SALT Institute leader said in presenting the title.
Antwi said he considered the title a great honor, and Richard Kyte, director of Viterbo’s D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership, agreed. “Doctor Antwi’s connection with the SALT Institute is a great example of how influence is extended by building trusting relationships. This has long been the strength of Viterbo University, and Dr. Antwi is building upon and expanding the legacy of those who have gone before us,” Kyte said.
Kyte said Antwi brings to Viterbo “a generosity of spirit and a deep faith,” and praised his book’s research-oriented approach to bringing servant leadership to bear in practical ways.
“One thing that sets it apart is his commitment to research,” Kyte said. “We have many books that tell anecdotal stories about leadership, but Dr. Antwi studies servant leadership in relation to other competing leadership theories and demonstrates how effective it is for anyone concerned with improving the performance of their organizations.”
In the preface to his most recent servant leadership book, Antwi explains that the book’s intent is “to bridge the gap between theory and practice in servant leadership studies and to bring the relationship alive. That is the only way we can find meaning in leadership studies.”
For Antwi, there’s no better teacher of servant leadership than Jesus. “Christ has set the example of how to lead humbly,” he said.