Updated: July 18, 2022

Executive Team Building Activities & Retreats: the BEST in 2023

Here is our list of the best executive team building activities.

Executive team building is a range of activities targeted towards leadership, upper management and executive teams. Example activities include happy hours, group chats, and management workshops. The purpose of these activities is to foster teamwork and cooperation among an organization’s highest ranks.

Organizations can use these ideas to develop executive skills, team building skills, and to share tips for leading successful virtual teams. These activities are examples of leadership activities and group retreat activities, and may be part of executive retreats.

This list includes:

  • leadership team building activities
  • management team building ideas
  • team building activities for executives
  • team building activities for senior management
  • ideas for executive team building retreats
  • executive team building games
  • executive team building exercises

Let’s get to it.

List of executive team building activities

From higher management happy hour to C-suite team retreats, here is a list of team building activities for executives and managers that promote harmony, trust and communication.

1. Remote Managing Workshops

As industries shift to remote work, more managers now oversee virtual teams. Leading online organizations requires the traits of traditional office leadership, plus extra skills like online communication, technical savvy, the ability to inspire from behind a screen, and the capacity to supervise from afar. Virtual leaders can struggle to strike the perfect balance between over-managing or under-managing. Developing the expertise to guide virtual teams often requires trial and error, and hosting a workshop on how to manage remotely speeds up the timeline of success.

These workshops teach leaders how to convey expectations and set goals, practice effective time management, exhibit trust while checking progress, and how to run fun virtual meetings. New and experienced virtual leaders can hone remote team leadership prowess, and increase productivity and trust within work-from-home teams.

Learn more about how to manage remotely, and see our list of virtual leadership activities.

2. C-Suite team retreat

Executive offices are hoppin’ spots. Phones ring, secretaries scamper, meetings convene, and paperwork piles up. Interruptions are common. It is a wonder that executives accomplish anything with so many emergencies marching through the doors every day. Occasionally, though, executives need time and space to hone in on a single topic. Improving teamwork among organizational leaders requires this kind of focus.

Higher management can embark on an executives-only team building retreat to block out competing noise and concentrate on strengthening top-tier relationships. During these retreats, leaders can discuss important issues, receive leadership training, participate in team building challenges, unwind, and socialize.

While leaders guide and emotionally cheerlead the general workforce, executives are at the top of the corporate ladder and receive little coaching or empathy from within the organization. Executive retreats offer high level leaders the opportunity to unload and commiserate, with attendees reciprocating advice and support. In this environment, leaders can openly admit struggles and trade tips.

For inspiration, check out our list of virtual retreat ideas.

3. Online Office Games

Online Office Games banner

You do not reach the highest levels of an organization without ambition and a desire to win. A spirited round or two of Online Office Games caters to executives’ competitive spirits. Online Office Games is a friendly virtual competition that pits coworkers against each other in a battle of speed and wits. Players face off in challenges like trivia and team building games. This virtual activity is a good fit for dispersed leaders whose busy schedules prevent in-person meetings. Online Office Games is a great morale booster, and is a way for executives to connect in a social and low-stakes setting.

Learn more about Online Office Games.

4. Senior management happy hour

Happy hours give employees the chance to unwind and socialize. Higher management happy hours allow executives the opportunity to connect over non-work topics. Workday conversations usually revolve around business. Yet is just as important for executives to get to know each other on a human level and build up camaraderie and empathy.

By hosting a team building happy hour for executives, you give upper management a chance to relax and connect without worrying about projecting perfection. Though attendees should still behave professionally, executives can drop their polished personas and be more silly or vulnerable than is usual around subordinates.

Happy hour guests can answer icebreaker questions and play bar games like darts, pool, or jenga. You can even plan a fun happy hour activity, such as a cocktail making class, poker game, or improv lesson to occupy your guests between chats.

For more tips, check out our list of virtual happy hour ideas.

5. Presidential playtime

I have watched the General Counsel of a corporation race an office chair down a hallway and incite a plastic sword fight during a toy drive. I can vouch that sometimes the most dignified and respected company leaders are kids at heart.

Leaders need to blow off steam too, and childish fun is sometimes the best way to release tension.

Some playful ideas:

  • Board game night
  • Laser tag
  • Ice cream social
  • Go-kart racing
  • Building a bear, and gifting the end products

By adopting a playful approach to executive team building, you remind leaders to have fun and encourage creativity and imagination.

Here is a list of board games for teams to try too.

6. Return to roots

Executives may have started in lower positions in the company, and much may have changed in the meantime. Due to this perspective, higher management may be out-of-touch with the current experience of entry-level workers. One of the more unconventional yet enlightening executive team building ideas is for organizational leaders to spend time working in the trenches.

Executives can either visit the same or different departments. These leaders should spend at least half a day shadowing areas like customer service, warehouse, or administrative assistants, and then report findings to the rest of the higher management team. While you can go incognito Undercover Boss style, we recommend being open and honest about your position and intentions. This approach shows more trust in and respect for employees, and opens the door for honest communication and bonding between differing company levels.

This exercise helps executives gain valuable perspective on how lower rungs of the organization operate. Leaders can come together afterwards to bond over the experience and brainstorm new solutions.

7. I-Spy

In many ways, executives are like secret agents on a mission to save the world, or at least the organization. Executive team building activities like spy simulations allow directors to live James Bond fantasies. Spy missions are high-octane versions of escape rooms where participants pretend to go undercover as secret agents. Players handle high tech gadgets, learn survival skills, engage in fake combat, and pull off slick deceptions to complete missions.

During these games, executives practice essential higher leadership skills like critical thinking, decision making, remaining calm under pressure, persuasion and people skills, and change management. Spy games are especially beneficial to newer executives hoping to hone skills, but leaders of all levels can learn from and enjoy the event. If you live in a major city, then you can probably book an espionage experience from a specialized venue. Or, you could design your own secret agent night by searching for spy games and riddles online, and hiring a guide to facilitate.

You could also do a DIY escape room game.

8. Head honcho group chat

Directors’ schedules are jam-packed, which makes finding a free slot in everyone’s calendars a challenge, especially for extracurricular activities like team building. Yet team building is most effective when performed consistently. High-level meetings often involve finagling by multiple assistants, and planning a regular team building event can turn into extra work.

One of the most underrated free activities for executives is the group chat. During busy seasons, organizational leaders may not be able to spare a night a month to attend a team building event, but can spare five minutes here and there to reply or react to a message.

You can start a head honcho group chat via social media, text, or internal messaging service. This channel will be exclusive to higher management. You should emphasize that professionalism still applies and discriminatory or crude sentiments are inappropriate. Once you establish ground rules, leaders can share material like good news, random thoughts, inspirational messages, or funny memes. This exercise helps execs relieve stress and build camaraderie.


The C-suite is the highest ranking team in the whole organization, so members should set a proper precedent for the rest of the company. When leaders of all levels work together and practice teamwork, businesses thrive. Smart executive team building ideas yield resilient leadership teams with strong bonds, and other teams follow the example.

Next, check out our article on luxury corporate gift ideas, these team building games for work, and this one with outdoor team building activities.

We also have a list of ideas for company retreats.

FAQ: Executive team building ideas

Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions about executive team building.

What is executive team building?

Executive team building is team bonding aimed at executives, such as presidents, CEO’s, departmental heads, and other members of the leadership team. These activities allow company heads to network, unwind, strategize, strengthen bonds, and transform into true collaborators. These activities often take place at executive retreats.

Why is executive team building important?

Senior management sets the tone for the entire organization. If executives prioritize and exhibit teamwork and cooperation, then the rest of the company follows suit. Directors make decisions that drive the organization, and need to move in the same direction instead of engaging in figurative tug-of-wars. If leaders struggle to harmonize and compromise, then companies make slow or no progress.

What are good executive team building activities for retreats?

Good executive team building ideas for retreats include happy hours, desert island scenarios, and workshops on how to manage remote teams.

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Marketing Coordinator at teambuilding.com.
Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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