By John Blankenship
For The Register-Herald
Leadership can be defined as one’s ability to get others to willingly follow. And every organization needs leaders at every level, leaders with a vision and a clear, vivid picture of where to go, as well as a firm grasp on what success looks like and how to achieve it.
But it’s not enough to have a vision unless you can share it and act upon it.
“Above all, a leader must be able to communicate with his or her employees,” explained Beckley Newspapers publisher Frank D. Wood, who recently was selected as the 2013 Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award winner.
“Leadership is organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal.”
Other in-depth definitions of leadership have also emerged as studies over the years and have produced various theories involving certain human qualities: someone whom people follow; someone who guides and directs others.
“To manage a newspaper successfully, a leader must motivate employees to do their best to serve the community and be its leading source of news,” Wood explained. “How do we keep our employees motivated? We have to keep them challenged, interested and encouraged.”
Wood should know something about motivation. He started his newspaper career more than 40 years ago when he joined the advertising staff of The Beckley Post Herald and the Raleigh Register in January 1969.
During the next two decades he served in several sales and management capacities before being named publisher/general manager of the Daily Advance in Elizabeth City, N.C.
In June 1990, Wood left the North Carolina newspaper to accept a similar position at a sister publication, the Times West Virginian, in Fairmont.
After nine years in Fairmont, Wood moved back to Beckley as vice president of Thomson West Virginia/Virginia newspapers and associate publisher of The Register-Herald. One year later Wood was appointed publisher, expanding current duties to include day-to-day operations of Beckley Newspapers, plus The Fayette Tribune and The Montgomery Herald weekly newspapers in Fayette County.
“Staying in touch with our community, that’s our goal,” Wood explained of his objective. “I work with a great group of people, a team that is dedicated to our community, loyal subscribers and area businesses.”
He added, “We plan to stay true to our long-standing mission of hard work every single day in order to serve our community in a positive manner and assist our region in its continued growth.”
In 2008 Wood was promoted to the Community Newspaper Holding Incorporated (CNHI) executive team as Northeast Division manager, overseeing the operations of 11 newspapers located in West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York.
The veteran newspaperman attributes his managerial success to the qualities of dedication, openness and sense of humor.
“Dedication means spending whatever time or energy is necessary to accomplish the task at hand,” the publisher noted. “A leader inspires dedication by example, doing whatever it takes to complete an assignment, whether it’s great or small.”
Wood observed that openness means being able to listen to new ideas, even if they do not conform to the usual way of thinking or doing things: “Listening to others’ views builds mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers.”
At the same time, humor is vital to relieve the workplace tensions that mount up day after day. “Humor fosters good camaraderie,” Wood said.
The publisher, meanwhile, is active in numerous civic organizations, holding leadership roles on various boards and executive committees. He is past chairman of the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce, a two-time president of the West Virginia Press Association and in August 2012 he was honored by the West Virginia Press Association as the Adam R. Kelly Premier Journalist, the highest award bestowed on any individual by the organization that represents the state’s daily and weekly newspapers.
Under the leadership of Wood, The Register-Herald has become one of the most influential publications in the state, winning numerous awards in the categories of news writing, advertising, design and photography.
Still, Wood remains modest when it comes to accolades that he receives publicly: “I am humbled and honored to be recognized by my peers, but the superstar staff at the newspaper and my family deserves the credit for allowing me the opportunity to represent them in our community.”
The amiable publisher allowed, “You’re only as good as the people who work for you. We are blessed at the newspaper for having so many hard-working and professional employees. They are the ones that make our publication what it is.”
Meanwhile, Carl “Butch” Antolini, general manager and executive editor of The Register-Herald, said Wood is a tremendous mentor, colleague and friend. “I have been involved in the newspaper industry for more than 35 years and while I’m sure there are others out there, no other person has made an impression on me as to what a true newspaperman and community leader should be.”
Antolini added, “In every community where Wood has worked, he has been looked to for advice by both the private and public sectors, and for help and leadership. In many instances, his direct involvement, both behind the scenes and in the public eye, has produced results that have greatly improved life for people, be it through roads, education, business development, the arts or whatever other productive causes that present themselves.”
The editor noted that Wood is a people person who always looks for a way to make things better for the public. “In Beckley, Fairmont, Elizabeth City and the many other places where Frank Wood has been called to, they all are progressive towns with great newspapers supporting them.”
Wood also is a dedicated family man and has been married to his wife, Jo Ann, for 46 years. They have a son, Shaun, and a daughter-in-law, Erin, who has given them two grandsons, Austin and Hunter.
Wood will receive the Community Service Award at the local chamber’s annual dinner April 19. The reception will start at 5:30 p.m with the dinner to follow at 6:30.
West Virginia’s 2nd District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito will be the featured speaker for the event.
Dinner attendees do not need to be members of the Chamber. Tickets are $55 each and table reservations for six, eight or 10 may be made by calling Kip Buchanan at the Chamber at 304-252-7328. The table reservation fee is $25.