Focus on Royal LePage president and CEO Phil Soper: An Effective Leader with Words and Actions


CEO award of excellence in public relations_edited-1The old adage, “actions speak louder than words” may be true in certain circumstances, but words are required in today’s society to create connection and understanding. The spoken word can be used to lead and influence action.

Communication through active listening, authenticity, humble confidence and connection is one of the most effective leadership tools. Without a clear message, even the best cause or idea would go unnoticed, or worse; obtain a negative or incorrect connotation.

As we near the luncheon to honour this year’s recipient of the CPRS Toronto CEO of the Year Award in Public Relations, it is interesting to see how effective communications has helped create positive results throughout history.

Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafazi, Eric “Astro” Teller, and Jack Welch. These names represent people who have caused incredible positive changes throughout the world. Change is a process that can be long and arduous; it takes consistency, passion and effective communication. We must never underestimate the importance of effective communication; it is the common platform where influence, inspiration and unity are built.

Nelson Mandela is known as one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen. He is famous for promoting a message of forgiveness and equality. Mandela actively listened to what was going on around him, which led to his passionate fight against apartheid. Although he was sentenced to life in prison, Mandela continued to put respect and forgiveness above all else. He insisted on having a respectful relationship with prison guards and other prisoners. This practice gave him influence to have them understand his perspective. Ending apartheid was a long and difficult battle, but Mandela never strayed from his key message. He was authentic and humbly confident in his message of forgiveness and equality; his actions spoke as loud as his words.

Malala Yousafazi is a modern symbol of influence. She survived a Taliban assassination attempt, which only fuelled her passion for female education activism. Malala actively speaks out with great energy, authenticity and confidence. Malala has a clear point of view for the cause of freedom and education for all; she is inspirational, focused and articulate. Malala is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner. At the ceremony, her speech included her powerful statement, “I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not.” Malala is an active listener and builds connection with her audience whether they are survivors in the same fight or not. Building connection is an integral part of effective communication because it helps to create awareness, understanding and further action.

Eric “Astro” Teller is Google’s “Chief of Moonshots” in their Google X division. The Google X division is a team of people who take on the impossible (i.e. moon shots). The inspirational quote, “shoot for the moon because even if you miss you’ll land among the stars” sums up the work performed at Google X. However, when you’re striving to reach the impossible, it can be difficult to stay motivated. Even if you land among the stars from time to time, constantly failing a moon shot will take a toll on motivation. This is where Astro shines as an effective communicator, both internally and externally. As a scientist and entrepreneur, Astro understands the technical aspects of his job, but also has the ability to engage with the general public and be easy to understand. He is able to communicate by telling stories and really connecting with his audience. Astro is authentic as a scientist who believes in his work, and is humbly confident in every shot he takes at the moon.

Jack Welch is known for his track record of success and the way he transformed General Electric (GE) from a $13 billion company into a $525 billion giant. When working to create change in a business or in other areas of life, effective communication is needed to develop understanding and acceptance. Change is a process and it requires everyone involved to believe the change is necessary or relevant. Welch developed new procedures for GE, but he would have experienced resistance before their implementation. Through active listening, Welch understood areas of GE that were under-performing. This process built trust in his humble confidence and enabled GE employees to see Welch as an ally and not someone to resist. Through effective communication, Welch was able to provide an understanding of the direction GE needed to go and acceptance of the new procedures. Without employees to champion and use new procedures or ideas, GE would not have been able to grow.

Communication through active listening, authenticity, humble confidence and connection is one of the most effective leadership tools. Whether you are communicating with one person, a room full of people, or millions in a crowd, the process of effective communication remains the same.

Phil Soper is the recipient of the 2014 CEO Award of Excellence in Public Relations because of his work in defining Royal LePage’s vision and communicating it with impact across Canada. Phil believes in the act of engaging people, active listening, leadership through voluntary engagement, and sharing his insight. If you’re following Phil on Twitter, you already know he has insightful knowledge to share and excellent communication skills. He was an early adopter of social media as a tool to enhance his firm’s effectiveness and communications reach.

Phil believes in his work; home ownership is an incredibly personal and substantial part of many Canadians’ lives. Realtors are helping hundreds of thousands of Canadians to chase their dreams, and Phil knows that improving communications and procedures for realtors will positively impact their clients. Since assuming his current role at the helm of Royal LePage in 2002, the business has more than tripled revenue and doubled agent count. Communications can be a game changer when it’s effective, and Phil has given us another example of authentic, humble confidence being a base for creating connection, understanding and positive change.

Join the Canadian Public Relations Society (Toronto) on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at noon at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel, 33 Gerrard Street West as the Society honours Phil Soper from Royal LePage as the winner of the 2014 CEO of the Year Award in Public Relations.
For tickets information please click HERE.

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