Relational Leadership: Julie Cook and Bob Richardson

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2, TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives. TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues. Today’s guests emphasize relational leadership. They are Julie Cook, President of Easy on Hold; and Bob Richardson, President & CEO of ExtendCredit. To hear the entire show, click here.

Both guests underscore the importance of listening in success. Whether that is listening to what competitors are doing and to your own tenure statistics in determining the path to success, as Cook does at Easy On Hold, or listening to your talent directly as Richardson prioritizes at ExtendCredit. This type of relational leadership helps to drive the success of the employees that work for them.

JULIE COOKrelational leadership

Julie Cook is President of Easy on Hold.  She has been a marketing professional her entire life, first launching her career on the radio before going into the public relations field.


Cook often asks herself if she has the right people in place. “I really want people to feel good about coming to work.  If they feel good about doing their job and have the resources they need, they will come back,” Cook says. 


As a leader, Cook believes her job is to lead by example.  She believes she needs to show others how to work with one another. No one is perfect and she knows everyone will make mistakes, including herself.

That’s why Cook says the relational leadership piece is key to everyone’s success.

And so too is developing leaders within the company. Cook believes it’s important to delegate tasks, as managers who take on too much can cause their team not to operate as a complete system – in addition to stunting development opportunities for others.


Easy On Hold is a fast-paced, creative culture where everybody is important.  Cook explains, “The roles are so pivotal and integral; everyone has a great sense of purpose.” 

The company has learned a lot about being a better business from competitors who aren’t doing it right. They also use surveys to monitor their success. In defining success, Cook says, “Success is asking ‘do I have long-term employees?’ If so, then it’s clear we are a good place to work.”  To accomplish this, she understands what she believes it takes to find great people.  “If you pay people well, they will seek you out. And you’ll get the cream of the crop.”

Cook learns from her employees all the time. “I learn from them.  Together we’re building something and they can look back with a lot of pride and say they were part of it,” says Cook. This type of relational leadership can never be discounted.

What are you Reading?

For Cook, it’s not a book at all. Instead, she is watching “The Profit,” a show where business owners are given honest feedback, as well as “Restaurant Impossible,” where owners are equipped with the tools to turn their failing businesses around.

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BOB RICHARDSONRelational Leadership

Bob Richardson is President and CEO of ExtendCredit, which provides financial solutions to business across industries.

ExtendCredit employs both operational and technical talent.  In their business, significant turnover can create huge waves for the company.   That’s why Richardson says he is “Chief Motivator” and works to ensure his team is happy.  That’s also why during the interview process, he serves as “the culture-interview person.”


Richardson’s ROTC training shaped him as a leader by instilling in him the skills of managing others and moving a team in a unified direction. It’s with this leadership insight that he is able to place employees in the best possible positions and understand how to motivate each one effectively. For instance, when a client calls and they are upset, they need the right people to handle that sensitive relationship. Those employees may be motivated differently from the technical people who are fueled by the freedom to get the work done on their terms. 

Regardless, through his relational leadership, Richardson wants to ensure that his employees’ ideas are getting out and that everyone is being heard. They do so in part by holding regular staff meetings as well as cross-functional meetings.


The environment at ExtendCredit is overwhelmingly entrepreneurial.  “You’ve got access to owners; there’s no bad idea. We look for people who are comfortable with the environment.  We have zero percent loss rate over the last five years,” explains Richardson.

To be a successful part of the ExtendCredit team, you have to be able to prioritize and juggle many tasks. Another part of success is risk-taking. “We embrace failure because you learn more lessons from it.  Where I draw the line is, just don’t fail the same way twice, because that’s a different issue, a learning issue,” says Richardson.

How Can People Connect with You? Via or on LinkedIn.

Remember, do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.

Date: November 11, 2014