Rosemary: Why she needs to lead a game-changing retreat in the next few months

You may be like Rosemary.

She’s the Managing Director of a Caribbean bank, elevated to the post mere months before the onset of the COVID pandemic. Like many leaders of companies, she’s stressed. Ever since the government started to shut down many parts of society to contain the outbreak, business has been bad.

While “bad” is a strong word, the fact is she has been working almost 7 days per week just to keep the institution’s profit line in the black. Some tough decisions were made, and one-time transactions helped pulled them ahead, but just barely.

She fears the red-ink that will flow if the numbers don’t start turning around. Fortunately, there are some weak signs of economic recovery, but the new variants travelling around the world and the armed conflict driving inflation…these have not helped.

But this isn’t what scares her.

While she’s not a natural planner, she has a dirty secret: she’s been writing the organization’s strategic plan on her own for the past two years. Without input from her executives, she’s fulfilled the basic requirement. How? She merely took the prior years’ plans and changed a few numbers.

Unwilling to disturb the fire-fighting her team needed to do, she took it upon herself to do what had to be done. Her board understands…for now.

But a recent chat with her chairman reminds her that much more is needed.
“What are we doing about cypto-currencies?” he asked in passing. “How should we be lobbying our Central Bank?”

Fortunately, a few individuals in the organization had been doing research and testing a few trades quietly, on their own. They weren’t experts, but they knew more than anyone else.

“I know” she repled. “I think COVID has shaken up the Central Bank and they have hinted at a willingness to entertain a new direction.”

“Really?” he queried. “We need a long-term plan to capture this thing – it could disrupt our position completely. Along with mobile money.” He continued by sharing the details of his trip to Ghana where banks are being bypassed in daily transactions by a service offered through phone companies. School fees, church offerings, medical bills, salaries, airline tickets.

“The fact is, these things need more than a customary five year plan which amounts to nothing more than an increment of our prior thinking. We need something bigger than that. Why don’t you arrange a different kind of retreat before the end of the year?”

“What does that even mean?” she thinks to herself. As a new CEO, she’s not sure what he expects, which concerns her.

Later that day, she clicks to the website of the Caribbean Strategy Conference. There she finds international experts willing to share their insights, regional facilitators with experience from actual retreats and a number of industry panels.

After texting her board and executives on WhatsApp, she gets HR to register sign up all who wish to attend.

Her anxiety abates.