A few months ago I started working with a new team of leaders within our organization and we all just got back from a two-day retreat. This retreat was critically important for our team development, and our time spent together helped propel the growth of our team.
It should be the goal of every leader to have a high-performing team but having one doesn’t come easy. It takes time and a great deal of trust. Retreats are a great way to build strong teams.Leading a high-performing team doesn't come easy, but retreats help build strong teams. Click To Tweet
Whether you are a new leader over a team or you have been leading your team for years, a leadership retreat can make a significant difference for you, your leadership table, and for the organization you lead.
Why do you need a retreat? Here are five reasons:
- Your leadership development. Time away allows for open dialogue in a friendly, safer and more relaxed environment. I can still hear the leader who said, “Selma, I disagree with you on this.” Learning from your team is key to your success. Retreats help you build trust that allows leaders to engage with honesty and openness – all necessary in building a high performing team.
- The development of your leadership team. The growth and development of your leadership table is your priority. The stronger your leadership team, the stronger your organization. Retreats allow times for collaborative learning, teamwork, and team input that benefits the entire team. We shared books, blogs, and articles read. Prior to the retreat we each took a personality assessment tool (Ministry Insights) and had someone lead us through exercises for personal learning and for learning about individual team members.
- The power of the informal. Never underestimate the power of the informal. Those nuggets of insight or ideas shared standing up at a break or shared in passing over lunch. In the middle of talking kids and fly fishing, teams are built. Retreats allow for the unexpected and informal team building that will be the super glue for trust.
- Future planning. If you don’t pull away from the normal routine of work, you won’t be able to step above the urgent to make sure you are headed in the right direction. Asking and answering the “why” of your organization requires vision for the future. A compelling future will give you and your leaders the focus, passion, and energy necessary to lead people.
- Clarity in priorities. Focus and clarity are critical for success. A narrow view keeps you on the right path and will keep your team from wasting time and energy on actions that don’t take you forward.
Retreat Planning Ideas:
- Two days are best. It allows for informal time and work sessions.
- Find a relaxing place to meet. I like a bed and breakfast that caters to teams. We had a wonderful meeting room plus comfortable couches and chairs around a fireplace in a beautiful, private setting.
- Have an agenda. It is important to have a plan but don’t over-pack the agenda. Leave air for informal dialogue and adjust if the moment warrants.
- Clarify your objectives and be public about them. I had three for our retreat: personal and team development, a view of the future (we used a strengths, weaknesses, opportunites and threats -SWOT – assessment done by teams prior to the retreat as a guide to future planning.), and a review of priority work by area for the coming
year. I shared the objectives with the agenda prior to the retreat and reviewed them again as we started the retreat.
- During meals, keep it personal and informal. I learned so much about the team during this time as stories were shared about marathons ran, hobbies, and best vacation spots. We laughed a lot and just enjoyed being together.
- Action plans and next steps. It is critical to take away from a retreat a plan to keep moving forward. I like to start the agenda for our next leader meeting at the retreat with key actions coming from our time together. You want the momentum of the retreat to connect with follow up action.
Ultimately, the unity and oneness of focus needed for a team happens when there is spiritual unity. The time our team spent in God’s word and in prayer created the foundation for everything else we did.
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love – the perfect bond of unity.”
I would love to hear your ideas on having a great retreat.