Investing in Your Organization Through Leadership Retreats and Off-Sites

A leadership retreat tip from Paula WilderFrom Paula Wilder, senior partner at WilderWeber Leadership Group. A version of this post first appeared on Handshake 2.0:

When are leadership retreats or off-sites worth the investment?

I’ll use a landscaping metaphor to try to shed light on this important issue.  Awhile back I hired a landscape professional.  After listening to my goals, he spent a day intently studying my yard and then created an affordable, sustainable plan for me to implement.   His professional design saved me valuable time and lots of money.

I have a new landscape challenge:  a Zone 6-7 area that gets afternoon sun and lots of wind.  I see three options:  annuals, perennials or shrubbery.    Annuals are opportunistic – great for one season.  Perennials are forever but the on-going maintenance is also forever!    How about a shrub that will mature and add lasting value with little follow-up maintenance?    I am emboldened by a recent landscaping ROI study:  a one $100 plant is worth more than ten $10 plants in terms of home re-sale.    I want my investment to pay off, so I am choosing shrubbery!

Back to “how best to invest in your organization’s landscape.”  Organizational leaders know their business needs.  Many business challenges do not require facilitated meetings or retreats.  They require flawless execution.  To work the numbers, I ask questions to help leaders determine whether investing in off-sites makes sense in their situations.

What productivity, effectiveness and profitability gains could be made if your people zoomed out to take a bird’s eye view of their landscape in order to:

  • Gain improved focus, understanding and commitment?
  • Collectively clarify the plan for the future?
  • Strengthen partnerships up, down and across organizational lines?

Leaders:  if you are trying to decide whether retreats are a good vehicle for getting the results you need to succeed, ask yourself:   “If my group went off-site, what might be lost?" and “What might be gained?”


If you have ideas about how to make sure retreat action plans get traction, we would love to hear about them.  Please email us at [email protected].  We will post your ideas on What's New.

"Leadership Retreats and Off-sites: Cultivate the Soil" is the third in a series of three leadership retreat tips from Paula Wilder.

Leadership Retreats and Off-sites: Retreat in Order to Advance - Retreat Tip #1
Leadership Retreats and Off-sites: Cultivate the Soil - Retreat Tip #2
Leadership Retreats and Off-sites: Investing In Your Organization’s Landscape – Retreat Tip #3

Paula Wilder is an organizational effectiveness expert and senior partner at WilderWeber Leadership Group.  WilderWeber Group is a VT KnowledgeWorks member company in Blacksburg, Virginia.

You're invited to learn more about WilderWeber Leadership Group on Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.  


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