MINNEAPOLIS — In a recent study conducted by DDI Consulting, 72% of managers indicated they have never questioned their ability to be an effective leader, and only 15% stated they had a leadership deficiency. It is a great example that our personal beliefs often distort our reality. Leadership, or serving others, is about earning share of heart, not manipulation or personal ambition. That was one of the key messages conveyed by Elevation Forum founder and Mack Elevation Forum leader Dan Mack on June 17 at the latest Elevation Forum. Mack founded the Elevation Forum for senior executives in 2008, and the group now totals more than 40 companies who are looking to discuss the cutting-edge ideas and strategies within the industry.

Target’s Doug Stukenborg, divisional merchandise manager for pharmacy, OTC and optical, and Laura Horton, senior group manager of healthcare and beauty business partnerships and negotiation, headlined the latest gathering. Stukenborg told forum members: “We will bring the Target WOW to digitally connected families through a unique combination of clear value pricing, compelling offers, design inspiration, guest-focused assortment and a friction less shopping experience. We will differentiate through assortment and brand exclusives, innovative solutions and owned brands, as well as enhance the guest experience through trained and dedicated services.”

Stukenborg and Horton moderated a two hour dialog filled with ideas to make a difference in building supplier’s and retailer’s businesses, and in creating higher-level relationships and value creation. Forum member Dan Quail, of Similasan, said, “That event was one of our best meetings yet. Very insightful and invaluable to my business!”

The forum started with a very candid discussion on how to create and maintain competitive advantage in a hypercompetitive environment. “We all struggle with overvaluing our personal assets, undervaluing our competitors
and overvaluing the depth of trust customers have in our organizations. Healthy organizations are a blended combination of healthy leadership practices and refinement of competitive advantage. Competitive advantage is derived through either compelling differentiation or leadership in perceived value,” Mack said. The forum members benefited from a robust discussion on the role of guest insights, with Stukenborg sharing his opinion on how to create value with knowledge of the guest within his department. “Target’s vision is to stay guest centric, helping her with what she wants, when she wants it,” he said. “She loves to shop, and she loves value. If you can bring guest insights to support her needs, we are interested.” The next Elevation Forum will be held Sept. 18 in Providence, R.I., with CVS’ senior merchandising team. The executive forum team will continue the vision of uncovering unique insights and discussing the best practices engaging the industry.