Our guest Lakeshia Ekiegwe – whose last name means “heavenly creation” in Nigerian – taught me a new term. It’s “upleveling” and in short it means start where you are and take action steps to move toward your stated goals. All entrepreneurs need to embrace that term. Lakeshia certainly did, which makes her an excellent podcast guest in our ongoing series wherein we pay tribute to entrepreneurialism and all the challenges and successes that come with it.
Lakeshia got her start as a receptionist in a law firm and moved up the ranks in the legal field. But she always had the heart of an entrepreneur. She didn’t like the 9-to-5 grind. Instead of showing up on time every day, she marched to her own tune (and own clock). But she did her work so well that her bosses were very understanding. That opened the door to her finding her “genius zone” and becoming one heck of a successful entrepreneur, leadership coach and business development consultant who helps executives and business owners function a lot more effectively as leaders. Her story of success is a case of evolution, which is what most entrepreneurs go through. Each journey is different, but none of us wake up one day and declare that today’s the day. Today I am an entrepreneur! It doesn’t work that way.
In this podcast episode, Lakeshia and I discuss the path to entrepreneurships and much, much more. Her journey brought her to working with leaders in businesses across the country. She says that she works at the heart of the organization, working with the leaders to help them become the best possible model for the organization as well as the best possible guide for their teams. Leadership is not about being over people, she says, but rather it is a partnership. “If you don’t have people who agree to be led, you wouldn’t be a leader. You’d be alone. That’s what I get leaders to look at,” says Lakeshia.
Lakeshia doesn’t like the term “manager” as it relates to people, because you can’t actually manage people. She says a more accurate definition is someone “who manages some of the processes and systems” in a business. I agree with that, because no matter what we’re doing as entrepreneurs, we are leading and we have those who will be willing to follow. That happens in real estate investing every day.
“Not everyone climbing the corporate ladder should be leaders,” adds Lakeshia. “They should be managing processes and systems.” I can’t argue with that. There are leaders, but not all will be able to mobilize their followers to a higher-level cause.
Lakeshia and agree on a lot of things about leadership. There are people who are leaders and people who aren’t. It’s not wise to have people in key leadership positions that aren’t leaders. Put them in positions where they manage what they do best. That way, you can help them find a more valuable purpose in the organization. In my company, each of our team members do what they do best. I learned a long time ago that this is a key to my success. If I find the best people and then leave them alone to do the work that they do best, we’re all a lot happier. We’re really productive, in fact.
Lakeshia calls this moving from struggle energy to flow energy. My guest and I agree on this point, too. She talks about her struggles, such as managing complicated paperwork, and how she handles the challenge to move into a better flow energy. A lot of entrepreneurs can learn from what Lakeshia has to share on this point, because many of us choose to struggle instead of going with our strengths. Get help for your areas of challenge. That’s all I’m saying.
Being a coach isn’t Lakeshia’s only passion. She is also a member of MENSA, which is very impressive, and a popular author. Her book The Truth About Being Single is something so totally different from anything I’ve ever read that it’s worthy of mention here. It brought her to coaching both single and married women, guiding them to greater self-esteem and empowering them to be better business owners, entrepreneurs and happier individuals across all areas of life. You have to hear her story! It is part of her entrepreneurial journey.