Linda Adeyemi: You don't have to know how the big picture unfolds

Linda Adeyemi

Linda Adeyemi stands out as a lady who understands her craft as an interior design professional and entrepreneur. She is dominating the interior design industry by offering cutting-edge solutions. She is the Principal Designer at Kay Elan Designs Limited, a company that does not only provide decor services but also interior architecture.

Omote Ro Dhe was drawn to her profile. A quick message to Linda for a feature was met with positive feedback. Digging deeper, we found that we both have Isoko roots and similar interests. There is more to her, and in a chat, Linda uncovers women's issues regarding the workplace, leadership and others. 

Read excerpts from the interesting chat below:

You are the principal and CEO at Kay Élan Designs Ltd, what is the idea behind this company?

I would say the idea has always been to provide unique and professional interior design value to discerning clients who are looking for truly bespoke interiors for their residences or commercial spaces. Interior design is a passion I've always had, and the establishment of the company has given flesh and wings to that passion. Kay Elan Designs is an interior design services firm I founded in 2016. My role as Principal Designer entails overseeing the overall creative direction and design vision for our projects. Our projects cover interior architecture, interior renovations, furniture and furnishings sourcing and manufacturing, etc. As CEO, I also oversee the business and financial operations of the company.

From experience, are there benefits for women in leadership positions in Nigeria?

From a personal standpoint, more women in leadership positions have shown clearly that nothing is impossible. Almost by default, society puts a cap on how far women can aspire or attain. However, as more women shatter the "glass ceiling", and exceed expectations, it sends a clear message that we are not to be limited, overlooked, or underestimated. This has emboldened more women to come out of their shells and be everything they aspire to be.

As a woman, what is your leadership style? How is different from your male counterparts?

Based on the feedback I have gotten from people I have been privileged to lead, and the personal values that I espouse, I would say I'm the type of leader that ultimately seeks to maximize the potential of everyone around me. I don't know if there's a name for that leadership style, but that's how best I can describe it. 

On my office desk, I have a quote I framed by Ronald Reagan that says "The greatest leader is not necessarily the one that does the greatest things. He is the one that gets people to do the greatest things". I've had this quote on my desk for years because it is what I believe, and it is something I want to be reminded of daily so that I don't lose track of it. In terms of how I implement this, I try to be as empathetic as possible, display exemplary leadership, and ensure that people are carrying out responsibilities from their areas of strength. 

I don't know how this differs from my male counterparts because I believe that everyone can choose the kind of leader they want to be, whether male or female. My own leadership choice is to be as humane and transformational as possible.

How do you balance your career, personal life and passions?

Delegate, delegate, delegate. Lol! Actually, to be honest, I'm not sure I have cracked this balance code yet, but I think I have gotten better over time. It starts with realizing that I am neither Superwoman nor Ms Omniscient, even though it seems to the outside eye that I am.

I consciously identify my weaknesses, focus on my strengths, and enlist help as much as it is available, or as much as I can afford for my weak areas. In running Kay Elan Designs, I am pretty big on processes and structure. So I have developed clear systems that ensure clarity in responsibilities for both myself and my staff. 

When everyone knows what to do and how to do it, it reduces strain on any one person and ensures that the business works like a well-oiled machine as much as possible. Hence, apart from focusing on my strengths, and delegating, teamwork has been an incredible tool on the work front for me.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about women in the workplace?

In this day and age, where more women are doing many great things, it can be tempting to overtask women and label them superheroes. Interestingly, when push comes to shove, most women can exert themselves and indeed be superheroes. But in the workplace, there must be a fine balance between the unique strains of womanhood, viz-a-viz the immense capabilities of women.

I don't believe that women are a monolithic socio-cultural group that can be characterized across the board. Hence, a woman can be well-organized, without society summarizing that all women are well-organized.

On the flip side, a woman can be talkative, without summarizing that all women are talkative. What matters in the workplace gender discourse is for increased opportunity and reward for women who show themselves to be deserving of it both by character and track record... and not merely just because "they are women".

Success is relative, what does it mean to you?

Success to me means fulfilling the dream of your heart. Of course, the dream of my heart is a big dream that will not be fulfilled in one day or even in a few years. Plus it's not a dream that involves only me. 

But every day that I see myself inching closer, or achieving aspects of it, I count that as success. To the outside or untrained eye, some things are not worth counting as success, but relative to the vision that God has placed in my heart, it might be everything. 

And that's why I do not gauge success in comparison to anyone, or for instance, to a certain amount of money in my bank account. We are all on different paths and called to different assignments in life.

What advice do you have for women looking to grow either their own businesses or in the workplace?

You don't have to know how the big picture of your life will unfold in exact terms. Just stay true to the dream of your heart, give your all to whatever you are currently committed to (whether it looks like the dream or not), and you will find that life has a way of ensuring that everything will eventually fall into place. Finally, comparison is truly the thief of joy. Stay authentic and dream BIG!