AH: Can you talk about your leadership style? How is it unique?
AK: My style is very people-focused with a warm tonality, which I feel is fairly unique. Many leaders tend focus on business results and driving outcomes, however, I’ve adopted a “people first” mentality. I believe that by strategically investing in people and talent, the business outcomes follow.
When individuals have the confidence to express their ideas, know their voice is heard, and feel appreciated for their contribution, the team environment is better, ideas are more creative, and the quality of work is improved.
AH : How has this leadership style led to better business outcomes?
AK: Focusing on employees pushes growth: effective leaders see individuals as an investment—making individual growth mutually beneficial for the employee, company and stakeholders, and clients.
Engaged employees have the power to drive a company’s bottom line if they feel their needs are met and supported, and have clear direction from a motivating manager. In the creative space, I’ve witnessed people performing and ideating at their best when they’re doing so with clear purpose in a positive, supportive environment.
AH: What are some strategies to become a leader in your teams, network, and the industry?
AK: No matter how qualified someone is, or high their IQ, lack of emotional intelligence leaves a large leadership component missing. Becoming an effective leader starts from within: assess your own strengths and identify weaknesses or areas you could better develop or leverage. For me, I’ve found I’m most effective when I focus on people and relationships versus demanding outcomes and analyzing results. Playing to people’s strengths is much more suited to my personality, and I believe people respect my authenticity.
Staying humble enough to ask for feedback, but direct enough to demand the best work can be a challenge, but vital to successfully lead a team to the next level. Find a transparent balance that supports the needs of individual team members and produces high caliber work.
AH: What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the industry?
AK: Find your passion. In this space, we have the power to change lives and make a significant impact on the world. Health and wellness is very broad, but demands brilliant insights, understanding and ingenious creativity among strict regulation. Find an area in health that you are fervently dedicated to and you will thrive.
I firmly believe this industry pays back tenfold—it’ll challenge your creative and strategic thinking while giving you an opportunity to change lives. (I’d argue that many pharma, health and wellness agencies have built in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in their foundations as they communicate life itself.)
AH: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
AK: Remove the fear of failure— allow people to make mistakes and learn from them, and realise there is not one right way of doing things.
Be positive, but real, and never take yourself too seriously—enjoy yourself!