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21 Stimulating Team Building Activities for CEOs and Executives

By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

Reviewed by Kara Funk

Senior HR Consultant, People & Culture

Stimulating Team Building Activities for CEOs and Executives

A great deal of stress and expectation is placed on managers to keep their team engaged. Oftentimes, managers struggle to do so, as they are overextended and struggling to be engaged themselves. This is why team building activities for CEOs, executives, directors, and other leadership team members that focus on their personal and professional development are vital.

The right team building activities for CEOs and executives can provide remarkable benefits for the organization - enhancing communication, improving collaboration, increasing problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and many more. This HBR article shows that more than 70% of managers don't feel strongly that someone in the workplace encourages their development. So, here is our list of team building activities for CEOs and senior executives.

Consider adding an extra element to your CEO team building with a gift or memento that commemorates the occasion.

You can also explore our articles about executive burnout retreats and executive retreat ideas to refresh your leadership skills and rejuvenate your journey.

1. What Are Leadership Activities?

Leadership activities are team bonding activities aimed at executives like Presidents, CEOs, departmental heads, etc. The goal is to network, unwind, strategize, strengthen bonds, and transform into better collaborators. These leadership team building activities often take place as executive retreats, but more recently, virtual team building activities for executives has risen in popularity.

2. Engaging Team Building Activities for CEOs

2.1 Executive Retreats

As mentioned before, executive retreats are the traditional way of organizing team building activities for CEOs and other leadership team members. These retreats serve as a place of relaxation by taking execs away from their daily hustle and involving them in leadership team building activities that sharpen their skills. Most of these retreats offer in-house activities that the CEOs, departmental heads, and others can participate in. As part of executive retreats, it's essential to prioritize team building for senior leaders to nurture trust and synergy among top executives.


2.2 Networking Happy Hours

Happy hours provide an opportunity to unwind and socialize, with executive happy hours allowing the leadership team to connect over non-work topics. The setup should be laid back and fun - start with networking icebreaker questions, and include bar games like darts, pool, etc. Happy hours are great team building activities for CEOs as it allow them to bond at a personal and human level.


2.3 Tête-à-tête With Executives

Executives are among the greatest assets to an organization, and it is crucial for staff to stay in touch with the roots. Identifying a few of the frontline workers, having a one-on-one conversation with them in the organization, then brainstorming with other leadership team members can be a remarkable team building activity for CEOs. Consider implementing a recurring series of small group sessions on a quarterly basis, where executives or leadership teams can engage in open discussions with staff members.

These sessions should encompass various topics, enabling employees to express their thoughts, ask questions, and provide constructive feedback. The primary objective is to foster an environment of transparency and collaboration within the organization, facilitating improved communication between leadership and staff. Engaging in senior management team building activities helps enhance collaboration and decision-making within the leadership team during their tête-à-tête sessions.


2.4 "Undercover Boss" IRL

Disguising oneself, going undercover as an entry-level employee to understand the highs and lows of the company – what can bring in greater enlightenment to the CEO. If going undercover is not your cup of tea, you can arrange things such that you spend a day working alongside the entry-level workers and understand the position firsthand.


2.5 Problem-Solving Activities

Completing problem-solving games like Stranded and WhoDoneIt with a leadership team or group provides a fun, challenging, and pragmatic team building activity. CEOs and other executives will improve problem-solving skills, critical thinking, collaboration, and teamwork.


2.6 Personality Assessments as a Group

Personality Tests administered for employers are simply assessments of our personalities from a behavioral perspective, highlighting our strengths, areas of development, and how we work best. When CEOs and leadership teams take tests like the Predictive Index (PI) Behavioral Assessment and DISC Assessment together and discuss the outcomes, it helps in understanding their outlook towards leadership, workplace communication, conflict resolution, and how they can best work together and collaborate. 


2.7 Domino Effect Challenge

Everyone likes to watch dominoes topple and form that satisfying swarm or ripple, or however, you have arranged the pattern to be. Even if one domino is out of place, the end result would not be as expected. The in-person domino effect challenge is one of the excellent team building activities for executives, department heads, and to learn about collaborating effectively with each other with minimal conflicts.


2.8 No-Business Gala Night

We all need time away where we don’t think about business - CEOs included. Organizing a fun gala night for the C-suite, along with their spouses, would be among the best executive team building ideas. Have a themed night, organize mixology lessons, poker games, basically any fun activity that they would enjoy, and emerge refreshed on the other side of the party.


2.9 Indulge in Wellness Sessions

It never hurts to unwind and relax by setting aside business and the entire world for a while. This study shows that CEOs sleep 24% less and work 23% more than the average worker. Having a weekend of wellness can provide enlightening team building activities for CEOs. A weekend at the spa, meditation lessons, and organizing events that promote wellness will rejuvenate the leadership team. The rest and time away, will allow the team to return to work recharged and more productive.


2.10 Have a CSR Outing

According to Georg Wernicke, "CEOs hold significant sway over the success of policies — especially CSR initiatives." The C-suite's support can effectively drive socially responsible senior management team building activities across the organization. Why is this a significant team building activity for the CEOs? Because it brings the team together and sets the tone for the organization in working towards impacting a cause and making a difference in society.

3. Virtual Team Building Activities for CEOs

3.1 Employ a Fun Employee Engagement Software

In order to tap into the pulse of your employees, it’s important to stay updated and acknowledge their contributions at the workplace. Choose an enterprising employee engagement software that can provide a public platform to reward employees based on their achievements and, in turn, nurture a more positive mindset, boost productivity, and inspire company loyalty. Sorry, I was on Mute offers one such integrated platform that can be used to acknowledge and reward excellent work or contributions at an individual or team level across your organization. You can also make data-driven decisions based on the reports and analytic information that this software provides for each employee or team in order to create the appropriate award system.


3.2 Remote Team Management Workshops

With many industries shifting to remote and hybrid work, newer communication and technical skills are required for the executives to run the company remotely. Hosting workshops on remote team management can be useful team building activities for CEOs, leadership teams, and department heads. These leaders can then cascade the learnings down the hierarchy for smoother remote performance across all employees.


3.3 Executive Escape Room

We picture executive escape rooms like James Bond movies. Espionage games help the C-suite practice essential leadership skills like critical thinking, decision-making, staying calm under pressure, persuasion, people skills, and change management. You can choose the free online spy missions or enroll in a corporate spy mission for a fully hosted experience.


3.4 Mastermind Chatroom

One of the most underrated team building activities for CEOs, leadership teams, directors, and department heads is virtual activities over a group chat. Send in a precursor about what the discussion will be and schedule a duration feasible for everyone. Everyone can come up with ideas and have an informal yet serious discussion around them.


3.5 Virtual "TED" Talks

TED Talks are known to host influential speeches by experts across multiple disciplines. CEOs have reached that position by being an expert in what they do. Organizing virtual talks by the CEO to inspire the employees across all levels would be one of the inspiring team building activities for executives. Create a TED series where each member of the leadership team presents a topic. Through these talks, the leaders inspire, educate, and share their personal experiences and expertise.


3.6 Donate Towards a Cause

If the C-suite team is still working remotely, it would be a challenge to get everyone together for its CSR activities. However, everyone getting together and contributing towards a cause virtually would be a noble team-building activity for CEOs and other leadership team members. Everyone can get together on a video call, decide on a cause and donate towards it. Here is a helpful list of virtual CSR activities


3.7 Organize Learning Circle Workshops

Learning Circle Workshops add structure to learning activities, thereby improving the team's ability to use the knowledge immediately to improve their performance. It combines the virtual water cooler and expert and continuous learning sessions across the organization. Enrolling your C-suite team in this can be rewarding team building activities for CEOs, Directors, Departmental Heads, and other leadership teams alike.


3.8 Bring out the Hidden MasterChef

This is a fun way to interact with the leadership team virtually. Each leader can prepare a simple recipe – with or without fire – and create a dish that others can either cook along or just watch and ask questions, maybe even judge MasterChef style. 

3.9 Book Club

An inbuilt quality of every CEO and everyone looking to be one is that they read. A lot! You can do a Bill Gates type of book review and have them get together over a video call and speak about the last book they read or their favorite book. They can summarize the book, recite their favorite lines, and even talk about their takeaways from the book.


3.10 Virtual Wine Tasting

Virtual Happy Hours are one thing, but to have a virtual wine tasting is a classy team-building activity for CEOs. You can check this list for places offering virtual wine tasting, book one, and enjoy a Saturday brunch virtually, along with tasting some vintage wine. This relaxing team building activity for CEOs was the most favored one among our leadership team.


3.11 Executive Virtual Murder Mystery

After uncovering the hidden chefs, it is time to unleash the C-suite team's Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marples. Solving murder mysteries can be a great team building activity for CEOs and other leadership team members as it enhances critical and analytical thinking capabilities. Check out this list of websites that offer virtual murder mystery puzzles for inspiration.

4. FAQs

4.1 What are the 4 main types of team building activities?

Team building activities usually focus on 4 crucial aspects – 

  • Communication
  • Problem-solving and decision-making
  • Adaptability and planning
  • Trust-building

4.2 How do you lead team building activities?

  • Plan the activities at a time that is feasible for all participants
  • Promote equal collaboration and participation
  • Be professional. You are still colleagues
  • Listen and observe throughout but do not forget to have fun 

4.3 What are the best executive team building activities?

Some effective executive team building activities include - strategic retreats, leadership workshops, team building exercises, outdoor adventure programs, and wellness retreats. 

4.4 What are the benefits of executive team building workshops?

Some of the benefits of executive team building workshops include - enhanced team work, improved communication,  leadership skills, and better decision making. 

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