Planning an effective leadership retreat can be a valuable tool for organizations that want to improve performance. An effective leadership retreat provides your team the opportunity to build relationships, develop new skills, set goals, brainstorm solutions and celebrate successes.

Creating a retreat that ticks all those boxes may seem like a tall order. But we have some suggestions that will bring your leadership team to a new level.  

Laptop computer on a table
Photo by Medium Rare

Encourage Attendees to Disconnect

The constant barrage of emails, Slack messages, work crises, project updates, and meetings can take a toll on anyone. So it’s important for your attendees to commit to professionally disconnecting for the duration of the retreat. Help your leaders prepare for time away by sharing a specific retreat agenda and setting expectations up front.

You may also consider reducing the use of technology throughout the entirety of the retreat. The more tabs that are open, the less focus is on what’s important.

Team Building Activity
Photo by Annie Spratt

Incorporate Team-Building Activities

The most effective teams must work together and interact well. A balanced leadership team can truly set the tone for the entire organization. So, it’s important that each person and their skills complement the others.

Team-building activities can help leaders get to know each other better, build trust, and learn how to balance personalities and skills. This can be essential for effective collaboration and decision-making. Depending on your destination, non-traditional team-building activities like scavenger hunts, escape rooms, or even an improvisation class, are fun ways to get your team working together.

Plan Workshops and Skill-Building Sessions

The leadership retreat is meant to be a place for learning, collaboration, and growth. Workshops and skill-building sessions fit well into the agenda. Keep some sessions focused on professional development, but incorporate things like cooking classes, arts and crafts, or creative writing. These topics teach and hone skills that translate to professional development skills, such as strategic planning, communication, and problem-solving.

Consider inviting external speakers for workshops, or invite members of the leadership team who have expertise in certain skills to lead sessions.

Make Time for Relaxation and Wellness

Leadership retreats should have a large focus on relaxation and wellness. In today’s professional climate, stress and burnout are common. Incorporating frequent relaxation and wellness activities allows leaders to return to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Consider offering yoga and meditation sessions, nutrition consultations, healthy meal options, massages, hiking trails and plenty of quiet spaces throughout the venue.

Create Opportunities for Self-Reflection

Reflection sessions are important parts of leadership retreats. Whether leaders decide to reflect on their personal or professional goals, this is an important activity to encourage. Leaders should be prompted to identify areas where they need to improve, and then work to develop a plan to achieve their goals.

Celebrating success
Photo by Fred Moon

Celebrate Team and Organization Successes

It’s important to celebrate team and organization successes during a leadership retreat. This will boost morale and motivation among leaders and set the tone for the return to the office.

Think outside the box when it comes to celebrations. Nice dinners and low-key parties make celebrations feel more genuine and intimate. You can also purchase usable gifts rather than company-branded trinkets as awards. Remember: this isn’t about the company. It’s about the development of the leader as an individual.

There are many great ways to show appreciation to your leaders. Home items, like artwork, bottles of wine, or serve ware; elevated office items, like a leather tote bag, engraved stationery set, or a monogrammed notebook; or experiences and subscriptions, like staycation packages, festival tickets, or wine clubs.

Passion Led us Here
Photo by Ian Schneider


Invest in your leaders as individuals to create a team that genuinely connects and gets things done. When planning an effective leadership retreat, make it less about the success of the organization and more about the success of the leaders. Shifting to this mindset will help you incorporate the right balance of activities, learning opportunities, and relaxation to ensure your team is ready to get back to the office and help the company grow.

And don’t forget! Eventective is a great starting point for venue selection. Check out our Meeting Venues page to plan the perfect retreat.

Kadi McDonald is a freelance writer, marketing strategist, and a proud Cleveland sports fan, and says hello to every animal she comes across.