In today's economic environment, when doing more with less is not a cliché, but a reality, effective leaders learn to take the occasional time out to "retreat" from the day-to-day performance marathon. Proactive leaders and their teams recognize the need to think strategically about priorities, to realistically assess their strengths and weaknesses in a dynamic and competitive environment, and to think creatively about how to achieve institutional effectiveness.
There is a vast body of literature on teams, ranging from information about the characteristics of effective teams, to creating winning teams, to turning around failing teams and improving productivity through teams. Webster's dictionary defines team as a "group organized to work together" which tells us little about how "teams" work together or toward what end. Too often when the word "team" is used by administrators, it is used interchangeably with "teamwork." Teams have a shared responsibility for institutional success, beyond demonstrating collaboration behavior.
Dr. Kaufman has over 25 years of experience in working with senior executives and their teams.
Examples of Retreat Questions That Leaders and Their Teams Tackle Include:
How will we align divisional goals with institutional goals and gain buy-in in the process?
How do we develop a laser-like focus on what we must do differently?
How do we effectively manage and communicate the changes that need to occur (e.g., preserve the core while innovating; structural changes and building capacity)?
How do we ensure a successful leadership transition if one is occurring?
How do we develop effective on-boarding?
How do we address or eliminate "sacred cow" work? From a strategic communication perspective, how do we maximize the leader's time and visibility?
What workplace changes are occurring that require understanding interdependent roles and working across divisions?
What are the obstacles we face in implementing agreed upon strategies and how will we address them?
How do we ensure that we encourage speaking truth to power?
How do we learn from both our successes and failures using a critical reflection process?
How do we build resiliency and avoid burnout?
What Clients Are Saying...
"The retreat you led last week was an excellent opportunity to reflect on our priorities and processes. You did a masterful job leading the conversation for the chancellor."
"I wanted to make sure that I expressed my gratitude for your meaningful retreats and for stewardship during this difficult year at our campus. I didn't get a chance to go to provost school, but if I did, you would be one of my influential teachers."
"I just want to thank you for your wonderful facilitation of the Academic Affairs Senior Leadership Retreat. Your vast experience and incredible sensitivity to the needs and nuances of the group translated into a day-and-a-half of highly productive conversations. Everybody was excited to attend and left highly motivated and ready to move forward. Thank you so much." (Provost)
"Thank you again for your superb facilitation, advice, coaching and comradery with our team." (President)
“Thank you for leading us through some very vital and much needed conversations. I greatly appreciate your thoughtful inquiries and probing that lead to excellent discussions. You bring out the issues and/or “force” some people to own or accept where we are at on different issues/topics. The aplomb with which you handled one cabinet member’s emotional response was extremely skillful and appropriate. You have set us on a course that I hope we can maintain and expand upon. Time will tell.” (University President)
“Thanks, Barbara. Appreciate the work you do and that people are comfortable enough with you to provide honest (and blunt) responses. Some of this is eye-opening for me and clearly I need to work on the issues.” (University President)
"Thank you for your keen ability to read into what was said (and not expressed) at the retreat, to ask probing and sensitive questions, allowing all of us to respond, and then helping us to clarify and contribute to the responses of others that created an experience that I doubt any of us will ever forget. We trust you to point out our weaknesses, and advise us on how to capitalize on our strengths. In short I think you are truly a very skillful and amazing mediator, counselor and teacher!" (President's Team)
"Thanks to Barbara for another "forward focused" retreat! For good prep, for holding us accountable, for excellent readings, for helping us set new goals for building great teams; balancing commitments, managing our system relationships..." (University President)
"Your ability to put together a meaningful agenda and get us to a place where we really have some positive outcomes is just amazing." (University Provost)
"Thanks you so much for your skills in taking us to the next level and helping us navigate through our conversations, knowing just when to question and just when to lay back and let things take their natural course. You are amazing!" (Campus Vice President)
"Our retreat was well orchestrated, executed and most important we very much got the results we wanted. I particularly liked the order in which you organized the meeting...and the results!" (CEO)