CEO Ellen and the Tense Team

Ellen is the CEO of a medium-sized organization that is undergoing a lot of change. Her leadership team is working flat out and beginning to show it – energy and productivity are lower, tension and stress are higher. The typical off-site meetings have not been particularly productive and “bowling night” was a bust. She’s been reading a lot on “mindfulness” – but is not sure how the team would react to the concepts or if it would help them achieve their goals?

In a discussion with Anne and Chris, Ellen understands their approach to Mindfully Teaming – a one-day, team program introducing skills and techniques for maintaining energy, balance, fitness and team performance. Ellen likes the combination of business and individual development and the idea of integrating performance and wellness.

She engages APP to facilitate a one-day team meeting to introduce these skills with the goal of improving their performance and wellness. She has some specific team dynamics she hopes to see addressed, as well. When she tells the team the reactions are mixed – some are very interested, a few are skeptical and one just rolls his eyes.

At the end of one day, Ellen’s team has:

  • Developed a specific, metric-based action plan to improve team performance
  • Increased their understanding of the diversity of their personalities and how they can collaborate more effectively
  • Applied nutrition practices to fuel for energy – creating a common framework that they can share with others in their lives
  • Personalized specific fitness practices suitable for anywhere that strengthen the body and reduce physical and mental stress
  • Practiced simple centering practices to help them maintain physical, mental and emotional balance throughout the day. 

How did they do that?

Before the session, the team members complete pre-work about their perceptions of and approaches to being centered, staying fit and fueled, and applying personality type using the MBTI®. The APP partners also meet briefly by phone with each member to discuss expectations for the day, after which Ellen gets some encouraging signs from the skeptics.

The day begins with a session on being centered during the workday. The session includes introduction and practice of breathing and meditation techniques suitable for the workplace. Ellen’s team starts with a set of simple breathing techniques that help them relax, focus, build energy and improve balance. The meditation session includes breath awareness and walking meditation. There’s some initial hesitation about “meditating”, but once they realize it’s really it’s essentially focused breathing and concentration, everyone gives it a shot.

The second session focuses on fitness. The team gets an overview of practical office-suitable techniques for strength, flexibility and mobility. While they won’t apply an hour each day to the techniques, the session takes an hour to teach them properly. Anne and Chris leverage their training and expertise to help each participant select and practice a set of techniques that suits their preferences, needs and personalities.

The nutrition session follows. The session is a non-judgmental, interactive discussion that focuses on food and drink as fuel for the workday that increases – or decreases – energy levels and concentration. The discussion becomes a team exercise when they are given just enough guidance, ingredients and direction to prepare – as a team - their own nutritious lunch – from scratch.

The team performance session continues with a debrief of the lunch experience. Ellen’s team realizes the challenges facing a team given a task with limited time and little knowledge of people’s skills. From there, the team takes a deep dive into their MBTI® table and explores the implications for goal setting, communication, decision-making and problem-solving. There are several “a-ha’s!” throughout the afternoon as well as some unusually candid discussions about how the team isn’t communicating or collaborating as much as they need to. Tensions do rise – but some team members prompt others to “take a breath” – which lightens the discussion and allows it to go deeper. The team develops an action plan going forward with tangible outcomes and metrics.

To cap the day, the team experiences a guided visual imagery exercise. This final form of meditation gives the team a chance to recharge after a productive - if sometimes tense – day together. Learning “yoga nidra” is consistently a favorite and a practice that many people take up regularly after learning it.


In one day a team can learn, practice and apply valuable techniques to improve and integrate performance and wellness.