By Diane Kortus
I’ve learned that the best way to lead a company is to step back and give your staff the room to do their job without interference from the boss.
The more autonomy someone has, the more self-directed he or she becomes and the better they are at their job. With autonomy come empowerment and the time to explore new ways to do things in a manner that is best for the employee and ultimately the company.
Engaged employees come to work knowing they make a difference. My staff knows their skills and talents are vital for the company to achieve its goals.
Sure, the boss needs to hire the right people and guide the team in formulating a vision. After that, her primary responsibilities are to provide the resources her staff needs and to make sure her people have the freedom to try new things without worry of criticism if their ideas don’t turn out quite as anticipated.
This is the kind of boss I strive to be to my 14 employees. By giving every employee a voice in the company that is heard by their co-workers and me, we have created a culture that is continually evolving and learning.
This culture allows my staff to excel and is why we can proudly announce in a full-page ad in today’s paper that The Laker and Lutz News earned 13 awards at the 2009-10 Florida Press Display Advertising Contest.
This is an extraordinary achievement for our small, independently owned company.
We competed against the largest weekly newspapers in the state, most that are corporately owned with far more resources. There were more than 350 entries from newspapers from the Panhandle to South Florida submitting their best work in 26 categories
We are excited, and humbled, to be named winners in 13 of those categories. Significantly, seven are for first place, an impressive showing by anyone’s standards.
Last year, when we were just beginning to change the culture of our company, we received five awards in this competition. I find it truly remarkable that just one year later, we more than doubled the number of awards we earned.
While everyone at The Laker and the Lutz News contributed to our success in the Florida Press competition, there are two employees I want to single out — Matt Mistretta and Stefanie Burlingame.
Matt is our art director and the person behind the design transformation at the papers. He has worked here since 2005 and this past year finally has been able to begin implementing his vision of improving the paper’s overall look. Matt’s commitment and steadfastness are greatly appreciated by his colleagues and me.
Stefanie joined us two years ago and is the designer whose name is on most of the winning ads. Her job is to work with customers and sales staff to design knockout ads that move people to buy products and services our advertisers sell.
Stef is the employee who taught me more than anyone else that the more I leave her alone the better she becomes. Her talent is evident by the 12 awards that identify her as the artist.
Please join me in congratulating Matt, Stefanie and the entire staff for their outstanding work. You are fortunate to have such talented and dedicated people working every week to bring you a community paper that is one of the best in Florida.
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