Lessons Learned as a Female Leader in Business: Lightbridge President and COO Gigi Schweikert
Lessons Learned as a Female Leader in Business: Lightbridge President and COO Gigi Schweikert

Lightbridge Academy executive and business veteran shares her experiences.

Gigi Schweikert has come a long way. The Lightbridge Franchise Company president and chief operating officer has made some missteps throughout her career - but each one of them helped to prepare her for the future.

Schweikert shares some of her bigger - and even embarrassing - business gaffes that happened long before she joined the brand Lightbridge Academy, how she overcame them and what she learned from each experience.

Be direct - When she started overseeing employees, Schweikert had to fire someone… twice. She was so nervous when she had to terminate an employee that she was way too nice and gentle. The result: The employee showed up to work the next day, not realizing they were fired.

“I recognized that I was doing people a disservice by not being direct,” Schweikert said. “Today I can directly, but professionally, and respectfully – deliver tough messages. If you care about that person, they deserve your frankness. It will help them to grow and develop whether that is within your company or not.”

“It is one of my strongest skills and I’ve found that it is missing in most companies today. People really appreciate it and if often are already aware of it themselves,” she said.

Tackle problems right away - Schweikert learned early on that keeping someone on a team for too long just because they might have been at the company for longer than you or possess more experience doesn’t necessarily mean they should stay employed. If they are not performing well, it needs to be addressed.

“From that, I adopted something I use today,” she said. “It’s that you need to reset expectations when you’ve allowed something to happen for too long.”

When you realize this has happened, resetting expectations as soon as possible is key.

“You need to say ‘I should have held you accountable for your job performance. Is that something you think you can do and is that something you want to do?’ If they say yes, let them know that you can coach them moving forward,” she said.

You must also let the person know that “there will be consequences for not meeting the expectation.”

You can’t do everything – Early in her career, Schweikert had a lot of tenacity and ambition, which was fine, but it often led her to overcommitting to things that she ultimately didn’t yet have the skill set to accomplish.

“I always said yes,” she said. “I recognized that I needed to be more honest with my capabilities. You need to be self-reflective and honest enough to let your team know what you can and cannot contribute.”

She noted that if you do not do this, “people will start to distrust you.” She specifically recalled a time when she was working at a Fortune 100 company as the child care director, and she gave an answer that had not relation to the question she had authority to respond to.

“Be willing to try anything, but be honest with your capabilities and level of accountibility,” she said.

Whatever happens, do your best - Schweikert humorously recalled a time she had a presentation for a Fortune 100 company for an onsite child care center. The heel fell off her shoe before she went in, and to make matters worse, by mistake, she took an Advil PM for her headache and was groggy.

“The mistake I made was allowing myself to feel completely doomed,” she said. “I didn’t have a clear mind and my shoes were messed up. I quickly pulled myself together and because I had to use twice as much focus to push through, it was an incredible presentation… one of my best. This experience in overcoming gave me the confidence to realize that although there may be big barriers ahead, I if you stay focused on the goal not on the barriers, you can achieve success.”