The New Portrait Of Leadership: Randi Levin On Strategies to Shape Yourself Into A Modern Masterpiece

An Interview with Karen Mangia

Karen Mangia
Authority Magazine

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Be a Decision Leader: Every day we make as many as 35,000 choices. A good leader is one who stays in choice and is mindful of the value of those decisions. Decision leadership is what separates those who stagnate from those who grow. Every goal, every initiative, every change is a choice. A decision leader mindfully uses their choices to navigate. and take ownership of their businesses. To direct by choice, start a Decision Journal. Create a habit of decision awareness by logging in your 3 top decisions of the day each morning and recapping with your 3 most powerful choices and the results of them, each evening.

We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Randi Levin.

Randi Levin CPC, founder & CEO, Randi Levin Coaching — is a nationally recognized transitional life strategist, keynote, author, thought-leader, and reinvention expert. Founders, entrepreneurs, and women in transition hire Randi to support them in managing and self-leading change and in recalibrating and redefining legacy and success in a moment-centric, action-forward way. Randi believes that bold decision-making is a power tool for aligning with and leading a legendary life. She is a relatable resource and an action-oriented coach, pivot partner, speaker, and thought-Leader, building upon her 15+ years in Corporate America, her tenure as a SAHM, and her successful reinvent 8+ years ago as an entrepreneur and sought-after strategist. Randi Levin is featured on national stages and in top media outlets and podcasts. You may have seen her interviewed, or quoted in Forbes, Thrive Global, The Ladders, Fairygodboss, Woman’s World Magazine, Reader’s Digest, MSN, Yahoo Lifestyle, HuffPost, American Express OPEN Forum, and Working Mother Magazine. Her workshops have been featured in The Wall Street Journal.

Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?

I am excited to meet 2023 exactly where it is! I think that we all spend a lot of time aiming to make a particular year turn out a certain way. Like story writers, we write the script and then sit back for the performance. This takes us out of the moment and into the future, crafting and creating a story that most often never gets told without edits. We have no ability to change or act in the future. Only the present. So, this year, I want to be more in the moment and available to the experience at hand, making strong choices that empower and lead the today. I have an outline, and now I get to live the story in real time, trusting the reveal! It is time to let go of how things have always been done, because the heartbeat of a business and of a legacy is built in real time.

It is my joy to support my clients in curating and developing next chapters and in trusting in and acting on their 2023 reveal. I consider myself a decision catalyst, and I am excited to take on a select few clients this year who are poised to self-lead and refresh their businesses and their lives and to answer the question, “What does a 2023 version of myself look like?” Aligning with that idea and that that vision is what refreshes and transitions actions and success.

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?

Back in my retail management days at Macy’s, I was given a very large area of the store to run. This area was previously managed by two leads and now it was all mine. Every morning I would have 5 buyers and assistants on my selling floor barking orders at me. I was stressed because I felt that I could not get everything they asked of me done. My division manager pulled me aside and redirected my thoughts. She reminded me that the buyers did not expect me to do everything, they fully understood the situation. If I was willing to take the emotion and expectation out of my exchange with them, I could shift the conversation and move effectively and productively through my day. Instead of telling them why I could not do something, I instead said, “Okay, I hear you, I got this.”

It changed the dynamic between us. Things did get done effectively, the buyers helped more, everyone was more upbeat and purposeful. I always felt that my manager’s ability to tap into and assess the energy in the room was key to changing that energy. She very genuinely shared her assessment with me and once I implemented it, things changed. The bottom line is, don’t lead with what you cannot do. Lead with what you can. Acknowledge and validate your conversations and redirect your energy. Then do what you can. You will be surprised to learn that you can do much more than you think, and you will intrinsically delegate and manage yourself and others with more clarity.

Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?

I looked at teams I managed as “THE TEAM,” one whole, without considering that every member was unique with a one-of-a-kind value add. The truth is that it is time for all of us to understand the importance of each contribution in an organization and to tap into the individual magic of each member of the team, so that they can lead with that. While I always recognized strengths and supported growth, what I did not realize years ago is that this so very much starts with me. My decisions to self-lead, impact my decisions to lead. Vulnerability, once frowned upon in a management role, is now an essential part of the dynamics of a flexible and vivid team. Every decision is key, and every decision impacts the whole and is an opportunity to lead, to change, to recalibrate, and to ignite ideas.

How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?

I believe that leadership is shifting from the outside in to the inside out. Self-leadership is the notable leadership of 2023, because effectively managing others requires effectively managing yourself first. Traditionally, leadership is defined as how one manages and drives a team, a bottom line, or a goal. While still important, being an effective and dynamic leader today requires more internal work, more self-connection, less fear, and an ability to think out of the box because there is no box!

Success is as often as much about what we stop as what we start. What is one legacy leadership behavior you stopped because you discovered it was no longer valuable or relevant?

Comparison is no longer necessary. When you become an entrepreneur, or you embrace a new role, it is dire to look around. You need to know what everyone else is doing to somehow validate what your own contribution is. I think that while it is important to have a working sense of what others within your industry are doing, your focus over time needs to move toward being your own muse. Spending time trying to launch a program like your competitor, or to feel as though you “have to” write a book, or be a public speaker is like stepping into a chocolate mold. The results are that you will be like everyone else, and in the process, you will lose what makes you an expert, what makes you exceptional. Legacy leadership is about believing in yourself and driving your decisions based on what is distinctive about what you offer. Not the other way around.

What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?

To trust myself. Your relationship with yourself is the single longest relationship you will ever cultivate. You lead you. Self-leadership is predicated not on perfection but rather on the knowledge that whatever got you to this point in time will continue to fuel you. You are good enough, smart enough, and worthy enough. When you make decisions from a place of trust, you make decisions from both your head and your heart in tandem. When you seek your own approval rather than that of others, you lead authentically from within. It reduces fear and judgement and allows for more bandwidth and solutions overall.

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?

That was then, this is now! The most common mistake leaders make is to rinse and repeat. The COVID Pandemic taught us that we are all in transition. Nothing is a given. I work with so many leaders who find themselves stuck and overwhelmed because they are matching 2023 goals to 2019 or prior business models. It does not work. It is important to meet our businesses and our lives with flexibility and grace. The best way to update is to begin with resetting and redefining values and boundaries. What is important NOW? is the question to be asking. Once you can gain traction with your answer to that question, act. Choose one change and then another. You are not starting over, rather you are building upon everything that got you to this moment, but with fresh perspective and new possibility. Re-access what you offer, how you offer it, the need for it, and what is missing. You cannot lead from yesterday; you can only lead from today!

Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?

Manage the uniqueness in everyone. This simple tweak will permit more organic leadership that is inspired by maximizing the expertise of each individual team member in collaboration with the whole. If you think about managing the “entire pie” it can seem daunting. If you think of managing “each piece of the pie,” it redefines your role and that of each employee not only individually, but in conjunction with the entire team, resulting in all pieces of the pie working together in tandem. Sometimes, in your zest to lead, you may lead everyone in the same way. Look for the subtle differences between people and draw from their individuality. Then respond and direct accordingly.

Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now? Please share a story or an example for each.

Drive Tenacity: The ability to move with the ups and downs and be resilient is what will define your success. I like to suggest pivoting rather than quitting, a subtle shift in view that enables transitions to take place, with a continued commitment to the overall business and your role in it. Every business will hit a tough patch and every business will shine. Tenacity is the ability to flow and adapt to new ideas, trends, and actions over the long haul. I see so many leaders looking to quit and bolt. The challenge is to evaluate what needs to change and then pivot toward that. You may still quit, but if so, it is by choice because you are moving toward something rather than running away from it.

Be a Decision Leader: Every day we make as many as 35,000 choices. A good leader is one who stays in choice and is mindful of the value of those decisions. Decision leadership is what separates those who stagnate from those who grow. Every goal, every initiative, every change is a choice. A decision leader mindfully uses their choices to navigate. and take ownership of their businesses. To direct by choice, start a Decision Journal. Create a habit of decision awareness by logging in your 3 top decisions of the day each morning and recapping with your 3 most powerful choices and the results of them, each evening.

Activate Self-Worth: There is so much value in understanding your own worth and merit. What you bring to the table is what you lead with. It colors everything you do. As I mentioned earlier, leadership is predicated on self-leadership and that is driven by intuition and trusting in yourself. Leaving your company, retiring, starting your own business, taking on a new role or promotion are all the result of activating self-worth. To activate yours, make a list of your value-adds and your non-negotiables. Get clear on what they enable you to do. Imagine the best-case scenario. Then imagine the worst-case scenario. Marry the two and activate your self-esteem from that mid-point. What is possible now?

Initiate Thought Leadership: Nothing beats an intelligent conversation. Thought leadership centers on your ability to be the expert you are! Even when starting something new, your ideas are what got you to this point, so lean into them, indulge them, and share them. Thought leadership is what drives mentorship, teaching, coaching, and change. Shake free of keeping your beautiful ideas to yourself and find ways to share them through panels, talks, blogs, articles, podcasts, or books. Brining your ideas to life celebrates your legacy in real time and drives connection and a flow of even more ideas. A good leader has a point of view. Seek out ways to make your point of view of service to others.

Command Respect: Respect touches all aspects of business and life, starting with self-respect. As a leader and as a person how are you honoring you? Respect for the process. Respect for the organization. Respect for others. Respect is a driver to better relationships, truth, bold choices, and change. It begins with boundaries. Get clear on your 2023 boundaries by making a detailed list of what they are in the workplace and at home. Intersect the two and lead from that juncture. Respect is not given, it is earned. Start with earning your own trust and build from there.

American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote? We welcome a story or example.

What is possible now? My entire business is based on supporting people in aligning a current version of themselves with the moment we are living. Every day is a new opportunity to grow, to change, to decide. At one point or another, most people fall into showing up today as they did yesterday. I know that I fell into that gap between who I was and who I am right before I made the decision to pursue becoming a coach. Once I made the decision to start my own business, creating a daily legacy, or a daily masterpiece became a driver in that journey.

What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?

To be memorable! I believe that legacy is something that you curate and drive every single day, rather than something that you leave behind. This small tweak in focus permits me to be in choice in real time, which obliterates fear, and empowers action. What I love the most about my coaching business is that I can change lives, be a decision catalyst, and support and drive what’s next in the lives and businesses of my clients and audiences.

How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?

Visit me on my website and connect to me via social media. I welcome virtual coffee calls to connect and inspire. Please feel free to grab my complimentary Now is Your New Next Leadership Challenge

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience a leadership master at work. We wish you continued success and good health!

About The Interviewer: Karen Mangia is one of the most sought-after keynote speakers in the world, sharing her thought leadership with over 10,000 organizations during the course of her career. As Vice President of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce, she helps individuals and organizations define, design and deliver the future. Discover her proven strategies to access your own success in her fourth book Success from Anywhere and by connecting with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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