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Three Ways to Rethink the Exec Off-site

Many off-sites can be a slow death by powerpoint where participants get restless by multiple strategic updates, start checking their phones and are waiting for the bar to open. Sound familiar?

Big clients have engaged me to rethink their off-sites. Here are the three missing ingredients that are a game changer. 

1. Deep Relationship Building

2. Setting a New Tone

3. Revealing the Truth

1. Deep Relationship Building 

Most global executive leadership teams post Pandemic haven't met in person! And If they have, they haven't dropped in together. We currently rely on booze to facilitate social connection, and it does work! The thing is there are far better ways of doing this that don't rely on getting drunk, which can also be exclusionary of people who don't drink alcohol. 

One day time format I've designed is called The Conversation Cafe where participants are given a menu of questions to skip the small talk and get to know each other on a deeper level. They range from really accessible questions like 'what family member do you learn from the most?' to spicier questions like 'describe a major turning point in your life?' 

This act of revealing ourselves to each other accelerates relationship building. The outcome is that you now know this person, have greater access to them if you are new to the org, and together people start to feel like a cohesive team rather than a bunch of individual star players. 


2. Setting the Tone

All executive leadership groups carry a legacy regime that undermines performance. There is often a culture of burnout, fiefdoms, politicking, and a reluctance to empower their teams to proactively solve their customer's problems.

There needs to be a clear vision not just of what we are doing, but how we are doing it. You need to create an actionable framework that inspires the leadership group to collectively commit to role modelling a new set of empowering behaviours. 

This means practical exercises that encourage us to stop fronting and be more vulnerable with each other about the genuine challenges we face in our leadership roles; our doubts, our hidden flaws, the support we need. Once we experience it ourselves, we see how valuable it could be for our teams.

3. Revealing the Truth 

It's natural to want to create hype about the year ahead but in any organisation there are icky things that aren't being acknowledged, because we're afraid to rock the boat.

I have designed a brave conversation format to surface what we're withholding, starting with unfiltered journalling on our own and progressing in small groups to the point that we're having a collective conversation about what's actually holding us back, without it being attributed back to any one person. The atmosphere in the room is electric. 

If you are planning an off-site, I can share these designs in detail. 

In person off-sites are precious. Don't let them go to waste.

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