After last year, 2021 was warmly welcomed by those hungry to hit the refresh button. But in order to be among the most successful leaders, approaching leadership with a new way of thinking will be crucial to business survival.
With a new year offering the chance to pursue fresh opportunities, Powerful Steps Founder Tory Archbold reveals exactly what it takes for a company to succeed – and what will lead to failure.
“Every single person around the world faced challenges, but the true leaders saw the possibilities,” she explains to The CEO Magazine. “COVID has made people better versions of themselves because they’ve faced adversity.
“When you face adversity, you can wallow in it or accept it, step into it, find a solution and step up into what you’re meant to become. You either sink or swim.”
Although stepping outside your comfort zone can be incredibly daunting, it can also be exceptionally rewarding. And it’s those who saw the potential in difficult times who are truly stepping up into becoming successful leaders.
“The people who are agile and have the ability to look at the challenges as possibilities are the ones who will be the future leaders,” Tory says. “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck in somewhere you don’t belong.”
Become a game-changing leader in 2021
Successful leaders must upgrade
“If you want to be a standout leader in 2021 you have to make time for yourself,” Tory states.
After the events of 2020, which have no real end in sight until the vaccine is fully effective, burnout affected more people than in recent history.
“Once you’ve hit the plateau, take time out, regroup, balance and propel forward – that’s how you reinvigorate,” she says. “Then you can step back into your A game with renewed energy, a clear mindset, a balanced life and put your best foot forward with the new and improved version of yourself.”
It’s not just a one-time process. Continual self-development will ensure leaders are consistently functioning at their peak.
“You’ve got to upgrade yourself all the time,” she says. “You need to make time.”
Lead with empathy
One of the biggest learnings from 2020 was the importance of human connection. The businesswoman believes successful leaders aren’t afraid of being empathetic with their teams.
“Human connection is such an important part of life,” Tory says. “In 2020, so many people were isolated, and they found themselves in a virtual world, which many people didn’t have any professional experience of and so they had to evolve really quickly.
“What I found was the human connection really allowed businesses to grow and flourish.
“If people were feeling isolated, their business, sales growth and connection went down.
“We have human connection and heart connection in a business, and the people who came out really successfully last year and had incredible growth, it was because they invested in their people.”
The successful leaders of tomorrow will be those who evolve with the world.
From trusting in remote work to embracing ever-evolving technology, stand-out executives are willing to adapt to new opportunities.
“Leaders of corporations have more trust in what people are delivering because they’ve realised when people are left alone, they do step up and do deliver,” she says. “It has opened up an opportunity to do business differently.”
Understanding the personal lives of staff boosts overall productivity as well as improving the bottom line.
“Because so many people are isolated from their families, now more than ever as a leader you need to understand the personal life of your team so that when you see that they’re out of alignment, you can bring them back in by supporting them. They then become better leaders in their roles as well,” Tory explains. “That didn’t used to be the case – people used to separate work and private life but now there’s a capacity for great leaders to say, ‘Are you okay?’
“When someone cares more, they will care even more because they’re being acknowledged.”
Step into the virtual world
The Powerful Steps Founder, who uses her empowerment and mentoring platform to coach leading professionals in using social media to propel their careers, suggests the most effective way to connect to people within an organisation is through insightful partnerships online.
“If you want to be the leader of a big global organisation and thrive, you’ve got to show digital content, show movement and show people who you are,” Tory suggests. “Become virtual. Show people what your leadership skills are but also show them that human connection – because that’s what people really, really want.”
And will the virtual world make or break some businesses? “100 per cent.”
“People want to see the personalities of the CEOs, people want to see what they have to say,” she shares. “Understand [the virtual world] and make it easy for people to understand who you are.”
Engaging with your team’s social media posts through liking and commenting will show them you care.
“You may not be sitting next to each other anymore, but you’re still part of the same organisation,” Tory says. “A like or a comment of kindness or support – that’s the difference between someone performing at an average rate and someone actually outperforming and achieving great success for your business.
“It’s giving back in little ways.”
It’s this very power of connections that drives a business to flourish not flounder.
“Building positive business relationships is also the difference between having a really lacklustre brand and a stand-out brand,” Tory shares.
But successful leaders can’t merely build relationships with anyone. Sincerity is the key.
“It needs to come from the heart. It needs to be authentic. It needs to be in alignment with your values,” she says.
Understanding the true value of connections, the public-relations powerhouse is proof networks are fundamental to success.
More than 18 years ago, Tory established her first company, Torstar, a global communication agency. Through her connections and coffee dates alone, she became the first Australian PR company to launch a number of US brands into the country including Drew Barrymore’s Flower Beauty, Zara and Topshop.
A long advocate for her coffee dates, the entrepreneur believes the most effective way to create connections is through three 15-minute meetings a week. Or if you’re as committed as Tory, eight in a day will do just fine too.
“You might have had a coffee date 10 years ago, but years later it becomes a very valuable partnership,” she reflects. “You never know who’s going to jump out of the woodwork.”