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    Gigi Schweikert, CEO, Lightbridge Academy

    Industry: Child Care and Development
    Views On: Leadership Takes Practice 

    Gigi Schweikert is the chief operating officer of Lightbridge Academy, a successful franchise in the child care industry. In my interview with Gigi, I was particularly impressed with her high level of energy and ability to communicate a message, both key traits of a successful leader. Gigi suggests in her interviews, articles, and books that leadership characteristics aren’t solely cultivated from the offices of presidents, CEOs, and directors. 

    They can also spring forth from the everyday occurrence, such as being the first person to push the button in an elevator, the first to say “hello” when entering a room, or the first to raise a hand to answer a question. Gigi says you may already be a leader, but just not know it.

    Gigi believes that the advice given to artists who want to perform at Carnegie Hall also works for someone who wants to foster a leadership mindset—just practice, practice, practice. Practice can help you take notice of your own leadership style and recognize which characteristics to nurture. The key is to look for the opportunities of everyday life and start practicing immediately. For example, students can pursue a leadership role in a university organization or club like the Collegiate Entrepreneurs, Ambassadors, or Golden Key. Or they can ask to be project manager for a class assignment. Women with children have numerous opportunities to hone their leadership roles as a class mom, den mother for scouts, coach or assistant for their child’s sport team, or volunteer in the community. Taking on these everyday leadership tasks will help identify those skills you excel at, and which ones to develop.

    “Views From the Top” provides inspiring examples of effective women leaders. For some of them, leadership came naturally. But for many others, you’ll find that they too had to work at their leadership style. A common misconception is that great leaders are born. It’s more apt to say that anyone has the ability to become a great leader. You can start the process by taking notice of the traits and skills from respected leaders that you want to develop. And then make sure to keep your eyes open every day for the chance to flex those leadership muscles. See you at the top! 

  • Get to Know Gigi

    Gigi suggests in her interviews, articles, and books that leadership characteristics aren’t solely cultivated from the offices of presidents, CEOs, and directors. They can also spring forth from the everyday occurrence, such as being the first person to push the button in an elevator, the first to say “hello” when entering a room, or the first to raise a hand to answer a question.

    Martin J. McDermott, Full-Time Faculty

    Gigi Schweikert is the chief operating officer of Lightbridge Academy, an educational child care franchise. She is a noted keynote speaker on the topics of education, leadership, parenting, and work/life balance. Gigi has written 18 books in three languages. Her most recent is titled Being a Supervisor. Over the years, Gigi has developed and operated employer-sponsored child care centers as well as created and delivered leadership training for Fortune 500 companies and educational institutions. Other notable achievements during Gigi’s 25 years of experience include directing the United Nations Early Childhood Program in New York City and developing the Johnson & Johnson System of Family Centers. Gigi is a vice president with Children's Choice and consults to Fortune 100 clients. Gigi also hosted the television show Today’s Family. Gigi lives in New Jersey with her husband, four children, three dogs, many chickens, and one turtle.

    Gigi Says...

    The best piece of advice that she can give is...

    Work will always be there, so let your kids come first. I have a heart for the struggles of working parents. Never forget that children grow up very quickly, and no matter what age, they always need you! As a parent, it’s your job to guide them through the journey of life.

    Acquire These Top Four Skills in 2016 

    1. Focus

    Stay focused to maintain a clear purpose in any personal or professional settings. This will help keep schedules organized and prioritized and make sure stress doesn’t weigh you down, no matter how much there is to get done. 

    2. Setting realistic expectations

    Figure out what you must complete and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to accomplish it. 

    3. Continuous evaluation 

    Assess your goals continuously. Keep track of your progress toward your goals so that you know when you need to shift gears.

    4. Being a good listener

    Good listening is key to learning and leadership. Too many people focus on speaking as the key to communication. It is often not what you say but what you hear that is the key to unlocking potential and creating solutions. Good listeners are good leaders because they are sought after for counsel, open to new ideas, and easy to approach.

    Look for These Five Things in Your Next Mentor 

    1. They are trustworthy.

    A good mentor should be someone you trust and who will hold you accountable. Often a mentor will pass on responsibility to you because you have built a bond over time.

    2. They are candid.

    A good mentor is not afraid to tell you the truth and deliver difficult messages. Everyone messes up, especially when starting out in a new position. In order to learn from your mistakes, you need to feel supported and even inspired to make the necessary changes.

    3. They will push you.

    A strong mentor encourages you to discover things on your own. Allowing you to experience the task firsthand and make it over a few bumps on your own will build your confidence.

    4. They are accessible.

    Good mentors make themselves available when needed. Although they will be focusing on their own schedules, good mentors will never consider it a burden to offer advice or help.

    5. They will encourage and nurture.

    The best mentors are the ones who create a relaxed and comfortable environment for positive learning. A mentor who is overly harsh and aggressive will often teach you what you don’t want to ever emulate. Seek a mentor who is empathetic, kind, and easy to communicate with. If they are fun….it’s a bonus!

    Follow These Seven Habits of Successful Women 

    1. Stay calm.

    You cannot control those around you but you can control your response to them. Staying calm will make it easier to recognize the problem and create an effective solution.

    2. Find the silver lining.

    Things could always be worse and by changing your perspective, you can find a positive aspect to any situation. The worst situations can sometimes teach you the best lessons and cause you to stretch and grow as a person.

    3. Take risks.

    Life inside a box is boring. Dare to push barriers and buttons; you will find that life is much more exciting and rewarding.

    4. Be comfortable in your skin.

    Stop worrying about what other people think—everyone is different. Just be yourself. It’s not worth letting others get under your skin just because they have a problem.

    5. Focus on health.

    Fueling a healthier you, whether physically or mentally, will translate into a more productive you at home and work.

    6. Balance work and play.

    Balancing work and life is always a challenge, but you must keep both in check. Achieve at least one goal a day in both work and life, no matter how small, and commend yourself for having accomplished both.

    7. Celebrate life.

    Take time to enjoy life, laugh, and have fun both at work and at home. Most problems are not worth the stress. Find the happiness in the commonplace and enjoy the journey, not just the destination!

    • See Also

    • The views and opinions expressed in are solely those of the creators and are not attributable to Kaplan University. Any reference to a product or service does not constitute an endorsement by Kaplan University. 

      The contents of these podcasts are presented for informational purposes only.

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