My True North: Authentic Leadership
by Andrea Lekushoff
Andrea Lekushoff is the Founder and President of Broad Reach Communications. She’s not only a leader in the Canadian public relations industry, she also committed to supporting the efforts of women in business.
Earlier this year, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in a leadership program at Harvard Business School. It was an amazing experience to be back in the classroom and learning from the school’s distinguished faculty was one of the highlights of my career. It was a packed and challenging schedule but I threw myself into it and savoured every moment.
Of all the concepts we discussed, the one that resonated most strongly with me was “authentic leadership.” Authentic leaders aim to be genuine, vulnerable and sensitive to the needs of others. They are not perfect, nor do they try to be.
Bill George, Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School and a well-known business leader, has described five key qualities of an authentic leader. These align in many ways to the standards that I’ve set for myself as well as for our team.
Pursuing purpose with great passion
My team and I have a strong sense of purpose: to become Canada’s leading corporate communications PR agency. We work hard to maintain a culture of inclusion, recognition and gratitude. Our hiring practices also help ensure that our personalities complement one another, so that we work well together and enjoy each other’s company. And we hire for passion: seeking people who love their craft and who can’t wait to do great work. This passion ignites and galvanizes everything we do.
Creating a high-performance culture based on strong core values
Last year, we developed a set of five values that make up our “Always Better” charter. They form the moral, ethical and philosophical compass that governs everything we do:
- We’re All In: We dive in and stay in and deliver our best work every time.
- We Own Our Jobs: We take the lead, keep our promises and take pride in our work.
- We Pull Together: We champion our clients and each other and we do what is right without hesitation.
- We Stretch Ourselves: We challenge ourselves to create work that dazzles and reaches new heights.
- We Deliver Awesome: We are trusted individuals who deliver the best quality work, care, service and results.
Put simply, “Always Better” means doing better than we did yesterday and better than what others do every day. These values align our beliefs and behaviour as individuals and as a team and have ultimately resulted in a high-performance culture.
Leading with head and heart
I firmly believe that you bring your whole self to work every day. For me, I lead with my heart as well as my head. It’s who I am and I am not afraid to show my emotions, my vulnerability and my compassion for everyone on my team.
Establishing connected relationships
Beyond being able to do the job, I hire for fit and for fun, recruiting people I genuinely want to spend time with. I look for individuals who, like me, show up to work as the people they really are – without drama, attitude or pretense. This allows us to speak sincerely, listen compassionately and create meaningful relationships built on open communication and mutual trust.
Learning, growing and cultivating self-awareness
I’m on a lifelong journey to discover who I truly am as a leader. I do this by regularly asking my team and my clients for direct and honest feedback. I have embraced this process of learning, growing and recognizing my strengths and limitations, so I can identify clear areas of personal development. I also pride myself in showing who I really am to my team, not hiding my mistakes or weaknesses. In fact, showing up to work as myself has given me tremendous strength, confidence and resilience at work and in life.
Practicing self-discipline to achieve short and long-term goals
Driving company, team and personal growth takes a tremendous and consistent commitment to self-discipline. To me, it comes down to grit, being able to focus on clearly-defined goals, and continuing to move towards them even in the face of setbacks. I focus equally on the long and the short-term, and I work to nurture and coach my team so they can continue their own journeys of personal and professional growth to be ‘Always Better’. Driving company, team and personal growth takes a tremendous and consistent commitment to self-discipline. To me, it comes down to grit, being able to focus on clearly-defined goals, and continuing to move towards them even in the face of setbacks. I focus equally on the long and the short-term, and I work to nurture and coach my team so they can continue their own journeys of personal and professional growth to be ‘Always Better’.
Nothing I have done previously in my career equals the satisfaction I get from leading such a committed and capable team. And in the last few years, I have learned that, to create a culture of high-performance, inclusion, recognition and gratitude, there’s no better place to start than with your authentic self.