Today leadership is about more than getting things done through others and business is more than just return on investment and the bottom line. Today, employees and customers want the same things; they want an experience, a connection and a relationship that goes beyond a transaction. If they can’t get those they won’t hesitate to go someplace else.
In our communication and media saturated world we have more things competing for our attention that any other time in history, and it will only increase. More and more we are trying to find some social or personal meaning from the things we do, companies we buy from and interactions we have with each other.
Whether we know it or not the things companies do or sell and what we as individuals do and say is potentially impacting and influencing someone else. All of these create opportunities for leadership that goes far beyond the traditional idea and definition of what leadership is and leaders are.
Ted Rubin is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist and has focused his career on not only developing brands, but also showing and teaching business’ and people about the importance and power of authentic connections. In 2009 Ted started using and evangelizing the term ROR (hashtag #RonR): Return on Relationship™…
AE: Let’s start with Return on Relationship; for those who are not familiar I will quote the website
“Return on Relationship™ (ROR), simply put, is the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship, whereas ROI is simple dollars and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations, and sharing, and is used to define and educate companies, brands, and people about the importance of creating an authentic connection, interaction, and engagement.”
In 2013 you co-authored the book Return on Relationship™ what inspired you to write the book?
TR: Simple… I had been evangelizing the concept and writing about it since 2009. Many people kept telling me I had to write the book. Kathryn Rose, my co-author, not only told me but sat me down, told me she would assist by taking all my material, forming an outline, then a Table of Contents, find us a publisher… and take over the process of managing and making it happen.
AE: As it relates to leadership, do you think most leaders understand the importance and the impact that authentic connections, interaction, and engagement can have?
TR: Your employees watch your leadership style and take cues from it. If they never hear a word from the C-suite outside the executive office or if they feel there is a disparity between your stated values and what you actually do—watch out. It’s hard to “rally the troops” if they don’t feel connected to you or your ideals. Leaders who truly inspire their employees lead by example. They’re personable and accessible, and employees feel they can trust them. Do more of that or you’re likely to lose your employees with the highest integrity—the ones you really want to keep.
AE: Do you think leaders give enough thought to their brand?
TR: I think they give too much thought to what they think their brand is or want it to be, and not enough time listening to what those around them think it is. Your Brand/Business is what you do; your Reputation is what people Remember and Share.
AE: The workplace has changed drastically over the last 20 years, do you think what motivates leaders and their teams have changed?
TR: All in all, no, I believe success and recognition are still huge motivators. What has changed is how that success and recognition is measured.
AE: You have a very diverse background do you draw any distinct differences when it comes to your experiences with leadership in those areas?
TR: I don’t think it is so much about differences in the background… but about growth, maturity, experience, and hard work.
AE: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
TR: Today’s executive has to know what’s going on in and around his or her company and/or industry at all times. And the only way to do a good job of that is to learn to navigate the digital landscape and use those tools to listen, learn and engage with people at every level.
AE: What is one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
TR: Insulating themselves from the realities of the business.
AE: If you could give one piece of leadership advice to your clients, individuals and employees, would it be the same advice or different?
TR: It would be the same advice… Relationships are like muscle tissue, the more they are engaged, the stronger and more valuable they become.
AE: What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
TR: Learn to listen with your ears, eyes and most importantly with your heart. Be sure to read… How to Win Friends and Influence People ~by Dale Carnegie.
TR: The last few decades of marketing tactics have made us lazy communicators. Most often we don’t even pay attention to who we are talking to other than via the data we collect (and even that’s a maybe). In order to fix this and really start to benefit from social relationships (both as individuals and as companies), we need to start “looking people in the eye digitally.” We don’t need to fit our world to digital; we need to fit digital to our world.AE: What has been the response to the book and how is it doing?
TR: The message is important, many are starting to realize they need to stop making excuses and bring in-person social skills to the digital world.
AE: Do you think social media is helping or hurting leadership?
TR: It is hurting because so few understand and know how to leverage. But for those who “get” it… helping in a big way.
AE: With the advent and proliferation of social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. we seem to have become a society where nothing is off limits and everything is made public; what are your thoughts on that?
TR: Bring it on! Real trumps Perfect every time because Real creates Trust.
AE: In many ways technology has made it very easy to connect to people you would never have been able to before; we would not be doing this interview if it were not for Twitter. Do you think that it also is impeding our ability to connect on other levels?
TR: Not at all, it is enhancing our abilities. It is all in how you utilize and leverage. True, most are clicking a button and calling that friendship, or simply broadcasting content… but those who utilize all the information, connectivity, and real-time engagement are connecting way beyond their ability to do so before at scale.
AE: In the same vein social media can be an extremely powerful catalyst for social awareness and change; what is the most amazing thing you have seen?
TR: What is most amazing to me is that the proliferation of digital and social platforms has become the great equalizer. Welcome to the ‘Age of Influence,’ where anyone can build an audience and effect change, advocate brands, build relationships and make a difference.
AE: What do you attribute your success to and what are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
TR: Hard work, reinvention, never say die. #NoLetUp!
AE: Have there been any role models for you?
TR: Absolutely… my Dad was a huge role model for me, my wrestling coach, Ira Gibel, and a number of others along the way.
AE: How do you empower, inspire or motivate others in the workplace?
TR: I do my best to lead by example.
AE: What has been your greatest professional accomplishment so far as a leader?
TR: Seeing those I have trained and mentored achieve… professionally and in their personal lives.
AE: Besides the obvious work that you do, how else do you “pay it forward” and do you think leaders have a responsibility to do so?
TR: I do for others every day without expectation of anything directly in return. I am accessible, available, and engage wherever and whenever possible.
AE: What do you want your leadership legacy to be?
TR: Return on Relationship… A Network gives you Reach, but a Community gives you Power! Networks Connect… Communities Care.
AE: What is next for you?
TR: I like to say… stop worrying about what’s next and concentrate on delivering what is now. We will have to wait and see.
AE: I start each day off with a motivational quote, do you have a favorite?
TR: I do my best to live by this quote each and every day… “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass… it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” #NoLetUp!
Many people in the social media world know Ted for his enthusiastic, energetic and undeniably personal connection to people. Ted is the most followed CMO on Twitter according to Social Media Marketing Magazine; one of the most interesting CMOs on Twitter according to Say Media, #13 on Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, and number #2 on the Leadtail list of Top 25 People Most Mentioned by digital marketers.
For more information about Ted and to order his books check him out here or at ReturnOnRelationship.com.