2013 in the Rearview Mirror

Published: December 30, 2013

This year's discoveries were unexpected. The common theme was courage. Each of the teams highlighted in this retrospective were elevated by the bravery to abandon comfort and ignite change. They didn't wait for the business landscape to demand a reaction. They listened to their clients, anticipated the future, and created solutions. Please enjoy a sampling of excellence.

Diagnosing Opportunity

When forty of the nation’s leading producers of insurance and investment products gathered to share best practices in team effectiveness, the bypassed the urge to celebrate their success. Instead, they immersed themselves in the metrics of their team assessment results in search for an opportunity to evolve. Some leaders identified a strength to leverage. Others discovered a vulnerability to address. In each case, a unique aspect of their team was mapped to a specific productivity goal and a tactical plan was forged. Within six months, all team goals were met or exceeded.

Connecting Resources

An urban public school district invited parents to partner more actively in their children’s education by establishing mentoring workshops at times when the families were most available. Each workshop provided resources for every family member anchored in evidence-informed actions proven to promote home-school partnership. When adults harness their power, kids win.

Sharing the Wealth

An equity partner in a global law firm invested in the development of his most promising talent by engaging leadership coaching relationships. Each future leader completed a personal strategic plan for their own career path mapped to the firm’s goals and their own signature strengths. The marked increase in internal morale, client satisfaction, and business development targets was not a coincidence.

Transforming Culture

When a macro-level industry transformation impacts all 200 of your association members, there is no time to complain about increased complexity and decreased resources. It didn’t take long for the good-to-great, great-to-greater vision of the executive leadership team to cascade to management and employees in all departments. The same energy that most organizations spend on grousing about change was quickly deployed to support innovation. From leadership to line staff, curiosity and difference was elevated as fuel for adaptation. Although the labor will be invisible to most of the association’s membership, the outcome will enable a benchmark level of advocacy, research, and education to the institutions where they spend the bulk of their waking hours.

So long, 2013. A new standard of courage and effectiveness has been set. Welcome, 2014. Whose stories will we share next December?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.