How to Plan Your Company’s Leadership Retreat

Leadership retreat planning is an important step in launching your company’s fiscal year. Here are our best tips for planning a successful corporate leadership retreat.


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    Narrow Your Focus. When you narrow your focus, you can harness power like a laser beam. Therefore, consider choosing only one or two areas to focus on during your retreat, in order to produce specific results and action steps for the most important business challenges your company faces.
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    Set the Ground Rules. This is good information for any kind of group meet: Decide on the ground rules, share them at the beginning of your event, and insist that all participants adhere to these guidelines.
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    Keep It Simple.Do not fall into the temptation of over-planning your leadership retreat.
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    Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. While planning your leadership retreat, always keep in mind your main goal.
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    Abstain and Refrain. Resist the urge to incorporate alcoholic beverages into your leadership retreat.
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    Don’t Stand Down. When someone breaks a ground rule, don’t stand down. When ground rules are agreed upon by the group, it diminishes the group experience when those ground rules are not enforced.
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    Emphasize the Takeaway. Remember, the whole point of the leadership retreat is to create a plan of action and instill positive changes to resolve at least one of the company’s challenges.
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    Communicate the Strategy. Upon returning back to the office, the new strategy and action plan needs to be effectively communicated to the rest of the staff.
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    Execute Action. All is for naught if no action is taken. The final step will occur (and continue) long after the retreat has ended: action.


  • It’s tough to be the “bad guy” but it’s not worth the negative impact on the group to overlook any infraction. Handle rule breaking swiftly and professionally, and instill consequences for repeated offenses.
  • Follow up measures should be in place, in order to ensure that progress continues to be made and that responsible parties complete their action items in a timely manner. This can be accomplished by one party, or an ad hoc oversight committee.
  • If you want more buy-in, decide on the ground rules as a group – that way, you’re creating ground rules based on what is most important to the group members. Some examples might include: when sharing challenges with specific employees, do not share the employee’s name; only one person gets the floor at a time; what is shared in the room is confidential and doesn’t leave the room; etc.
  • When you narrow your focus, you will see that you do not need many “activities” to plan a balanced, productive and well-rounded retreat. Facilitated conversation, team building, problem solving, and action planning should encompass the key components of your retreat.
  • But remember to build in extra time for participants to get to know each other in a relaxed out-of-the-office setting – this is important for strengthening the team and facilitating a cohesive working environment that can continue long after the weekend has ended.
  • Before adding any activities into the schedule, ask yourself “is this necessary to accomplish our overall objective?” If in doubt, leave it out.
  • Begin with your theme in mind, build value-added activities for the group, and if possible, have another set of eyes review the agenda before finalizing the plan. This will help to ensure that nothing is missed, and that the objective of the retreat is duly accomplished. Otherwise, it would be a waste of resources and valuable time.
  • It is essential to emphasize the takeaway in order to ensure that everyone’s time feels valued, and they understand what was accomplished by the time they took out from their busy family schedules and personal lives. This is most effective with the creation of a specific plan of action.
  • The action plan should include action items, responsible parties, deadlines and milestones. This action plan needs to be distributed among all responsible parties and their respective departments. A forum should be provided for Q&A as well, so that all staff are clear on the reasons behind the strategy, as well as the action steps required to effect the change.


  • Consider the impact of a powerful, direct action plan designed to completely resolve two serious opposed to smattering of suggestions and possible improvements for a whole host of issues.
  • Although alcohol is a socially accepted practice, some individuals do not partake, either because of their spiritual or religious beliefs, or because of a prior substance abuse problem. When you introduce alcohol into a corporate retreat setting, you are undoubtedly and inadvertently alienating at least a percentage of your participants. It’s best to keep things professional and refrain from including alcohol during the weekend.

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Categories: Leadership and Mentoring