“Retreat” to Be a Better Leader

Last week, our Centennial team took a “time out” for a corporate retreat. Getting 16 super energized colleagues to slow down was no easy feat.

Calendars had to align.

A retreat site had to be determined.

Flights to and from NYC had to be coordinated for those traveling from our Manhattan office.

An agenda had to be developed.

Our speakers—one a CEO of a startup and the other a renowned HR consultant—had to be available.

Essentially, the stars had to align.

They did—along with a beautiful, “once in a long time” super moon.

Our venue was a little piece of paradise: Potter’s Ranch in Kentucky (check out the view below…)


The 36 hours that we spent there are hours that will stick with us a long time.

During the retreat, we talked about “all that there seems there is never enough time to talk about:
• How we can better advise our clients’ leadership.
• How we can help companies become healthier.
• How our personal work preferences align and support each other, our company, and those we serve.
• The importance of “relationships.”
• How we can empower organizations to plan for the best, hire the best, and retain the best executive leadership talent.

Those discussions were exciting. Inspiring. Planned. Expected.

There was an unexpected part of the retreat that ended up being extremely meaningful to me. The agenda allowed 60 minutes for this discussion. Brightly colored post it note pads were distributed (an automatic hit!) Pens were passed around.

The topic was presented.

It was quite simple: “Share a moment from…” (And write each moment on a post-it note.)

-Your first day
-Our best team event
-Your proudest moment
-Your greatest achievement
-Best team work
-Best relationship lunch
-Most meaningful mission moment

The post-it notes flew.


Some answers were funny. Others were sad. All were meaningful. I’d like to share a few.

Susan Sipple’s first day was the day the original owner of Centennial tragically passed away. Julie Warden’s first day involved attending a “Why” sales workshop put on by one of our trusted advisors.

Several teammates shared our best team event was traveling to NYC in the spring of 2016 to welcome our new associate, Jessica Baron, and attending the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality conference—a conference from which we have shared so many learnings with top leaders.

The “proud moment” I shared was when I asked a former colleague to be a reference when I was interviewing to work at Centennial. His excitement and enthusiasm for this company was almost startling, and made me hope against hope that I would be hired.

Becky Scheeler’s mission moment involved finding the “right” CFO for a company whose overall health depended on the “right fit” for that position.

Lauren Kenney’s greatest achievement was successfully completing a challenging search for one of our most valued clients.

T.J. Bugg cited the teamwork on finding the right talent on a particular client. (T.J. and Mike Sipple Sr. later shared their proven insights on the importance of relationships.)

The moments continued.fun-photo

After each of us shared a memory for each of the categories, a new question was posed: What are your dreams? For Centennial? For yourself?

For Centennial, many dreams were similar: to help our clients achieve their goals; to grow and expand our reach; to continue to work together and succeed as a team.

The tissues came out when we shared our dreams for each other. “That each of my team members grows personally and professionally because of their association with Centennial.” “That my team members aren’t afraid to take risks.” “That my teammates feel fulfilled professionally and lead happy, healthy blessed lives.”

Then it got personal. Time for more tissues.

“To stay healthy.” “To use my degree to the fullest.” “To be a better listener.” “To pray more.”

One hour on our agenda item had turned into two.

During those 120 minutes, we dove deep as a team—something that is hard to find time to do—but is crucial for team chemistry and success.

We realized it takes bravery to take that kind of plunge. To be vulnerable. To be human. I’d like to thank our team for daring to have the hard conversations that needed to be had. For sharing themselves with me—and each other. For committing themselves to lead well, with authenticity.

We left Potter’s Ranch better leaders–leaders even more ready to lead you and our clients well.

I can’t wait to “retreat” to better leadership again next year.


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