Tips From The Top: One On One With Joy Altimare

I spoke to EHE's Joy Altimare about her best advice

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Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people? 

Joy: I actually interviewed for a job – an received an offer (which I took) – when I was 8 months pregnant.  I’m also an accomplished swimmer and from Tennessee.

Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Joy: I started my career on the advertising agency side – working as the account management lead, in partnership with strategic planners, creative and production teams.  I’ve has always be intrigued by the correlation between influence and behavior and worked really hard to translate that interest into expertise.

Throughout my career, I have been an expert advisor and resource for organizations tackling growth, innovation, and technology challenges and positioning themselves as positive disruptors within their category.

Prior to joining the health care space, I worked with leading agencies such as Ogilvy+Mather, GREY, and Publicis on preeminent brands like L’Oreal, Verizon, and Colgate-Palmolive.

I then shifted into a role at publishing giant Conde Nast, transferring my skills to the media world. I helped the company bridge the divide between its traditional roots and digital future, providing strategic insight as the industry’s terrain changed.

Now, I direct EHE Health – the 105 -year old company that strives to be the transformative agent in employees lives – innovative engagement strategy.  In the role, I am the engagement architect, leading the alignment of EHE’s unique preventive care product with a frictionless, patient-centered process designed to drive results and satisfaction. My team discovers key motivators of behavioral change, utilizes them to expand EHE’s reach and maximize its value to drive patient utilization.

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level? 

Joy: First, we have to set the example of what we desire.  So, you’ll see most of the Executive team – led by our CEO – walking around the office, talking to employees and trying to understand what their experience is and what improvements they’d like to see. 

Second, I believe in the concept of servant leadership – which is the philosophy of balancing emotion with intellect as a leader.  It’s a concept that suggests that true leaders understand the importance of the following characteristics as it relates to building and managing a loyal, high-performing team: listening, empathy, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. 

Lastly, we have adopted to concept around building cross-discipline squads.  It’s similar to how start-ups operate, and since we consider ourselves a 105-year old start up, it works well for us.  Squads are multi-disciplinary teams that foster agility, collaboration and expert delivery.  Leverage the business, technology and product subject matter experts, the process helps drive towards resolution. 

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders

Joy: Listen and ask questions. If someone doesn’t agree with your management style or doesn’t like the direction of the company, don’t silence that person. Listen. And ask questions of your entire team: What do you think of this? How do you feel about that? This open dialogue makes it easier to proactively identify problems and work together to create a mutually beneficial environment. It will also make your employees feel appreciated and acknowledged. 

Recently, we implemented a feedback loop through Butterfly.  It’s amazing as it allows for the leadership team to get consistent feedback from our teams.  While sometimes painful to read – we are going through tremendous transition, which can be difficult across the board – it serves as a useful guide to help us navigate and drive towards success.

Set the goal of working as a team. Encourage a squad-mentality. If you want your team members to work together, have them work for something together. Setting goals just for the department or one individual breeds a limited mentality and forces team members to remain isolated. Instead, give staffers a unified focus and purpose, to inspire them together.

It is my job as a leader to set the goals for the company and remove barriers for the team to succeed.  To do that, we’ve re-thought our structure and have adopted to concept around building cross-discipline squads.  It’s similar to how start-ups operate, and since we consider ourselves a 105-year old start up, it works well for us.  Squads are multi-disciplinary teams that foster agility, collaboration and expert delivery.  Leverage the business, technology and product subject matter experts, the process helps drive towards resolution. 

Be consistent. This is an important rule because it lays the ground-work for a trusting and thriving team. Before a management approach can be effective, it must be consistent. You must reward the same behaviors every time they appear, discourage the same behaviors when they appear and treat every member of your team with an equal, level-headed view.

I think this is similar to parenting – as a mother, I want my daughter to be healthy, positive and productive.  And, I want the same thing for my team – so, I have found that consistency in behavior, organization and process provides a level of comfort for the team to thrive. 

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Joy: You take yourself wherever you go, so like yourself, love yourself, and be happy with yourself.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Joy: If I could do anything good in the world, it would be to have the financial ability to support single, working mothers.  Especially women who have left non-ideal personal situations to provide a better life for them and their families.  I would provide them with 100% confidential support – legal counsel, emotional and mental wellbeing counsel, living and education expense.  And, it’s important to note, that this would be accessible to all women.  Women who are at the executive assistant level to the executives that they support.  

I have found that society often looks at educated, happy, smiling women and they think that they are doing just fine.  But, sometimes those women wear a mask at work and are really dealing with some not-so-nice-stuff at home.  I would have a fund for women who need to leave their current situation and provide them with access to the support – financial, emotional or physical – they may need for themselves and their families.  All confidential.  All free.  For all women.

This is a movement centered around building a community of those who care – because, truly, it takes a village.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Joy: Swimming, spending time with my daughter, cooking and working out.  Taking time with my family, and to do things that calm and ground me are what make me a better mother, friend, and leader.

Adam: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Joy: I am an unconventional marketing officer – and I think that my path makes me an ideal leader for the innovative and dynamic organizations.  My path forward will be marked by my unique quest for achievement and performance, my dedication for investing in people to build great teams and my passion for innovation.  It are those skills, that you cannot learn in a classroom, that have allowed me to enjoy every success and failure I’ve made along the way.  Today, I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of great men and women who have come before me to pave a way for me to achieve great success.  And…that, along with a strong faith, keeps me steady and unmovable – despite any opposition.  Stay positive, stay true and stay looking forward.

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