If you’ve ever attended a leadership “retreat” focused on establishing a company’s vision, mission, and values – you may find yourself wanting to do just that – retreat! A poorly facilitated discussion of these essential strategic elements can lead to undesirable places such as “the weeds” or “rat holes.”

A well-facilitated session lifts the veil on obscurity (“Who are we?”) and illuminates the path to establishing specific strategies needed to accomplish the mission, exemplify the vision, and bring the values to life.

What does it take to have a “well-facilitated” strategy session? Commitment. From the onset, leaders must be willing to make a commitment to their company, customers, and employees. This is a commitment to:

  • Make the time: You can’t determine your company’s strategic direction in an hour. It takes time. And it doesn’t have to get done in one sitting. A competent facilitator knows how to make the very best use of time without exhausting the meeting participants.
  • Remove obstacles: Limiting beliefs, difficult people, conflicting perspectives, fear of failure….these represent obstacles worth exploring before removing. Why do these exist in the first place? Competent facilitators address – and remove – obstacles.
  • Listen to others: If there is any one skill that deserves mastery, it’s listening. Strategic leadership retreats are typically full of voiced opinions, concerns, and questions that unless truly heard become “noise” – another obstacle.
  • Take risks: Strategic leadership meetings are opportunities to experiment with new ideas and explore questions to which you do not yet have answers. Include risk-taking in your meeting ground rules. There is a time for staying the course and a time for risking a detour. Make some room for detours without getting totally off track.
  • Stick to agreements: It can be very de-motivating to work hard to define your company’s strategic direction and then watch agreements fall away.Before, during, and after your meeting – if you agree on decisions, actions, tasks, and behaviors – stick to them. This includes updating others on strategy and direction – engaging them in ongoing conversations about company strategy and how they fit into the big picture.

What does it take to facilitate a successful leadership meeting? Click here for qualifications you can use when selecting your next facilitator.