THE IDEA:  I have learned over the last two years, that emotional wellbeing is the catalyst for creating elite teams.  During our most recent Elevation Forum, held the day before the NACDS Annual conference in West Palm Beach Florida, a group of 40 health, wellness and beauty executives gathered to talk about the future of healthy teams and holistic partnerships.  Business is human and the best organizations give the space, and heart to forge deeper relationships with teammates and customers. Organizational health, and wholeness is now essential to the success of every organization.

As I reflect, this was one of the most transparent gatherings I have ever facilitated, and I was moved by the level of disclosure, vulnerability and empathy shared by our participating partners.  It quickly became obvious, that during the last two years, a tangible emotional shift had taken place in the minds and hearts of my forum partners.

The forum began with a discussion on how organizations are leading cultural change, building team resilience, and practicing psychological safety.  The following are 5 ideas worth pondering as you move into the future.

  1. We often believe a high performing culture is a byproduct of success, but it’s just the opposite. What comes first is your mindset, what follows is culture.  High performing cultures have three times more positively energized leaders than the average organization. Optimistic salespeople outperform pessimists by 56 percent, found Harvard professor Shawn Achor.  And optimistic managers outperform their pessimistic peers by 31 percent.  Are you checking in on the emotional wellbeing of your team?
  2. We often burn too much energy on politics, excessive meetings, old initiatives, and outdated ways of working. Nobody has emotional bandwidth anymore, nor will anyone tolerate this type of management.  We are ALL energy managers, and our job is to energize each other, building other’s emotional capacity. The most holistic, high performing organizations practice simplicity, or extreme 80/20 thinking. “Simplicity is Genius.” said Einstein.  Simplicity saves energy and unlocks creativity. What new, unnecessary complexities are stealing your team’s energy?
  3. The healthiest organizations respect their associates by running less frequent, smaller, shorter, simpler, and more experiential, meetings. The days of long, monotonous meetings are coming to an end.  We can’t afford to lose moments of real connection and inspiration.  Meetings are theatre, and real opportunities for co-creation, engagement, and debate.  If you are not collaborating in a meeting, why are you having the meeting?  It is just another energy killer. How are your meetings?
  4. The centerpiece of the forum was a vibrant retailer panel discussion discussing the secrets of co-creation and innovation partnerships. The esteemed panel included Sean Jackson, Sam’s Club’s SVP Consumables and OTC, Colleen Lindholz, President of Kroger Health, Andre Persaud, Rite Aid’s Chief Retail Officer, Michelle LeBlanc, CVS Health’s Sr. Director/ DMM of Health & Wellness, and Vinima Shekhar – Walmart’s VP of Merchandising Wellness.  Their unified voice shared that less than 15 percent of branded suppliers are extremely open to feedback on their new item launches.  The top suppliers encourage higher level discussions and lean into their soft skills, exhibiting transparency, vulnerability, and deep listening.  Elite supplier relationships overinvest in trust building and are constantly assessing the nuanced and evolving needs of their partners. They have an outward focus.
  5. The forum participants agreed that there is a direct relationship between self-awareness and high performing cultures. To maintain a healthy, and holistic culture, everyone within an organization must practice courageous conversations with their customers and internal teammates. This means becoming skilled at sharing feedback upward to your supervisor, downward to your associates and laterally to your peers and cross-functional partners. Are you at modeling a feedback culture?

The future of high performing teams is grounded in practicing healthy leadership behaviors. And there is not a better role model than 15-time National Cheerleading Association coach Monica Aldama.  Her coaching mindset is encapsulated in her philosophy:  “You keep going until you get it right, then you keep going until you can’t get it wrong.”

What healthy leadership behaviors are you practicing?