I am fresh off our company’s first out-of-town Leadership Retreat and I have to tell you, I am ENERGIZED!
In terms of the financial investment to send our entire leadership group out of town, I’ll admit that watching the expenses creep up during the planning phase made me question whether the dollars and cents added up to good business sense. Then there was my concern about pulling the company’s leaders away from their responsibilities for 3 days…3 whole days!
Despite my reservations, I am happy to report that the business did not fall apart in our absence, the staff continued to function at their usual high level, and I’d venture to guess they didn’t miss us too much.
Was the Leadership Retreat a good investment? You bet it was.
One of my reasons for bringing the group together was to reinvigorate the team. I look to this core of individuals to lead by example. When that core loses synergy, the effect is felt throughout. I realized how in the busyness of conducting our business, some may have lost sight of our foundation and purpose.
As a company, we have grown so much since our launch 5 years ago. It is only natural that our new generation of employees wouldn’t have a connection to our founding story as the old guard has. That story, our story, provides the context for everyone’s role today. We all need to own that story.
The retreat theme was OWN IT! Sharing in the telling of Vibenomics’ founding, our crazy story of vision, serendipity, hard work and sometimes nothing more than luck, brought everyone together. From this foundation, they could own their part in our evolving story. I witnessed how changing the environment and getting away from pings and the daily hubbub allowed our team to relax and interact in a way that simply doesn’t happen in the office.
When we first arrived at our offsite location, we laid the ground rules:
- Code of silence: what happens here stays here
- Vulnerability: These next few days are an opportunity to be open, to let people really get to know you professionally and personally, and to share thoughts, ideas and concerns
- No judgement. If we truly are going to let down our guard, we must trust one another and know we are safe from judgement
When initiating a group conversation, there is always the awkward moment of “who goes first?” In anticipation of this, the Executive Team had asked 3 individuals in advance to prepare some remarks, as candidly as possible, on one of these topics:
- Owning Flexibility and Culture–Is it what we think it is and are we living it?
- Owning Core Values and Our Work Family–Do we really think of ourselves as family, or are we paying lip service to this well worn phrase?
- Owning Teamwork, Humility and Transparency–If we can’t do it with ourselves here, how will we do it across the company?
What followed was a heartfelt conversation among our leadership team. Misunderstandings and feelings rose to the surface. True appreciation for one another was expressed and, as hard as it is to say this, those of us on the Executive Team weren’t exempt from having to face some hard truths. It’s not easy when someone—a colleague—holds a mirror up to your face and asks you to look in it.
There is no question that those tough conversations had to happen. They broke down barriers and what was revealed couldn’t have been known otherwise. I am so proud of our Leadership Team for doing this hard work.
Perhaps you’ve heard the adage attributed to Abraham Lincoln that says, more or less, that if you don’t like someone, you need to get to know them better. I would take that sentiment further by saying even if you like someone, you’ll learn to appreciate that person the better you get to know him or her.
This was the underlying theme of our retreat. Getting to know one other. Learning what each person contributes professionally and personally. Earning one another’s trust and respect. And owning it, all of it.