We recently held a management offsite at the beautiful J.W. Marriott in Muskoka with 16 members of our management team. While holding a management offsite during the busiest quarter of the year is always a tough decision, experiencing another year of double digit growth required us to start preparing for 2016 well before the end of this year. We had informed a number of our team that they would be promoted into management positions for 2016, so this was also an opportunity to bring everyone together.
The purpose of the offsite was to help establish a baseline for everyone as we continue our transformation to become a digital innovation firm and embark on an ambitious three year plan. I was excited, but very nervous about the offsite. It was the first time that I had brought together such a large group as part of a management retreat and I hoped everyone would be committed to the vision.
I was so pleased and appreciative by the positive energy that everyone brought to the offsite and to our discussions. A lot of time was spent planning in order to create a safe environment for people to open up and share. I was very inspired by the way everyone participated and responded to the vulnerabilities and concerns our executive team shared about our own roles.
While everyone came in with different levels of management and strategic experience, I wanted to build a common level of understanding of what we are attempting to achieve and how a collective leadership mindset will help us to reach our goals. I also wanted everyone to understand that the journey itself is as important as the outcomes.
To reinforce the anticipated outcomes from the offsite, there are three messages that we wanted everyone to take with them as we build out our plan for 2016.
Effective communication can overcome any situation
Whether things are going well or going wrong, it’s always important to stop and ask whether you are communicating effectively. Being accountable for your own ability to communicate—and if things go wrong, asking what you could have done differently—is key to effective communication. Most issues can be dealt with by effective communication, whether you are giving positive reinforcement or having to say something that people don’t want to hear. And perhaps most importantly, upward communication is key so that senior management can provide guidance and perspective as issues arise.
Collective leadership creates a set of common goals that define success
As our team began to grasp this concept, this was a defining moment for me at the offsite. Many up and coming management leaders struggle with the difference between collective leadership and individual leadership. Collective leadership is all about collectively achieving a common goal as the singular measure of success, while individual leadership is defined by solely the success of the individual achieving their objectives. To take on an ambitious plan, company goals must come before individual goals, which can be a conflict for those that put their interests ahead of the organization. While individual goals must be determined, one must start with the collective objective and be able to visualize how their individual goals will help to achieve the collective goals.
Belief that you can succeed
For me, one of the greatest outcomes from our offsite was the desire to allow myself to focus on positive reinforcement as a key part of helping everyone maintain their perspective as we embark on the next phase of our journey. Maintaining a belief that you can succeed will help you look at failures or obstacles as simply setbacks, and will give you the drive to seek solutions, or to simply pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward.
I believe we can achieve our three year plan, and on a personal level the energy that we achieved through our discussions inspired me to find ways to overcome my personal fears and challenges so that I can better lead our company into 2016.
I feel a great sense of accomplishment in helping each member of our management team to achieve their own personal success, as they help me to achieve mine. And if each member of our team can continue to inspire themselves, inspire their peers and inspire their teams, then the next phase of our journey is sure to be an exciting one.