The XYZ of the Strategic Leadership Off-Site


Two days in a hotel with people you can hardly stand trying desperately to influence that sometimes immovable object called Strategy.  

Does this sound like you and your team?

The off-site, when done well, can indeed be powerful. The Leadership team is galvanised, the goals are clear and the mandate for change has been agreed. And I’ve been lucky enough to see this in action just recently.

However, when an off-site goes wrong the damage to a Company can be huge. And, even though you might think that it’s the fault of the cheesy psychological team building games, it’s not. It’s usually because you can’t succinctly communicate to your team what they need to do going forward. 

I’ve been to loads of off-sites in my career but I can honestly say that the most impactful of these have been where the Leader talks passionately about where we’ve come from, where we are going and why we need to change. This is then backed up by a simple clear articulation of the vision. All you need is to say:

  • We will focus on X
  • We will stop doing Y
  • And we will start doing Z

This is not about a Vision statement. In fact, if you spent 2 days creating a statement, then you really don’t understand what your business currently does and more importantly what it needs to do.

Simple metaphors and visualisations from the off-site are key because they will live with you long after the meeting. In fact, these produce sound-bites that you can use to sell the vision to your team. And you won’t need to walk everyone through umpteen goals. In fact, let your staff build their own goals around the key messages from the off-site. Mainly the X, Y, Z. 

I know that this isn’t rocket science and perhaps you were expecting reams of information but as I say, I’ve seen this technique work on a number of occasions. 

Of course there are still a huge amount of things to do in order to build upon the good work from an off-site. But that’s where leadership comes in and everyone must aligned behind the simple objectives of a well articulated vision.

One last thought, I should not be critical of the team building exercises. They are in fact critical. Leaving one’s comfort zone is uncomfortable but you do need to build a level set of trust, humour and open-mindedness before you can begin to get everyone on board with the vision.

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