This week’s Ground Leader has some serious bragging rights. Since 1998, Michael Witt, publisher and principal of E&E Publishing, has steadily grown his business into an enviable award-winning online news outlet. And, ironically, he has done it far away from the spotlight of the business media.
What does Witt have the most to brag about? E&E has become a talent magnet for some of the best and brightest reporters in the fields of energy and environmental journalism. In spite of being a private, subscription-based news network, E&E can attract talent and keep them — turnover is very low. Even at a time when reporters are encouraged to grow personal brands, E&E is able to attract writers who know they are writing for a niche clientele, and that their work most likely won’t see a mass audience. One of the reasons cited for their success: reporters have the freedom to do deep dives into policy issues impacting energy, the environment and climate change. Their research and reporting is so respected that several E&E staffers regularly appear on PBS’s NewsHour, C-SPAN and NPR as experts.
In a telephone interview for this blog post, Witt was asked what he had been intentional about in his leadership. He responded saying, “The success of our company is driven by the people who are working here. When we were six people starting out, I thought I could have more day-to-day impact on the company, but now we are 100 people I’m doing a lot less of the day to day and am investing in how people perform and supporting them to be successful. They need to feel fulfilled, supported, if they need something they can sit down and make a case for it and be taken seriously. They understand ‘why’ we make certain decisions and can provide input.” … “Self-awareness – as a leader that is probably the thing that I put a high value on, and I’m cognizant that we can fool ourselves quite easily. So I really depend on the openness and honesty that I strive to develop with my colleagues so they can honestly tell me what they are seeing and thinking– this keeps me grounded and feeling confident that I’m interacting and I’m making decisions that are working for the business.”
Michael Witt is our Grounded Leader of the Week for his social health, his authenticity and commitment to developing honest, productive relationships with his work colleagues. His passion to help others be successful and creative is what drives him and the success of his business. And he gets results worth bragging about.