Newsroom leadership rooted in clear, strong values leads to good journalism.
That was the message from Butch Ward of the Poynter Institute in a discussion with editors at the Associated Press Media Editors conference Wednesday at the Seigenthaler Center in Nashville, Tenn.
Ward said that values shape how editors lead their newsroom, so it's important for editors to reassess their values periodically and ask whether their leadership style works and what values are driving it. And are their behavior encourages a free exchange of ideas and leads to good outcomes.
He said it's important to understand what values motivate people to do good work.
Extrinsic motivators, such as pay increases, can be effective but generally have short-term effects.
Intrinsic motivators tend to be more long-lasting, and key among them are competence, choice, growth and meaning. Here's what those mean for those seeking to do good work, Ward said:
"Competence" is wanting "to do the things I'm good at." Staff members want to know they are good at their work and want to be told that they are.
"Choice" is about having a certain level of autonomy in the job – the trust of their supervisors to make good choices about how to do the work.
"Growth" is knowing that they have the opportunity to learn and grow in their work.
"Meaning" is knowing that the work being done has meaning to readers and the community – that it makes a difference in people's lives.
"These are motivators that can propel a staff," Ward said.
They also are rooted in values, and he said that the boss needs to be out front in demonstrating that values aren't just talk.