Finding Your Team’s Cadence

Published: March 20, 2018

The easiest way to understand the value of cadence is to think about the steady, calming effect of rhythm. Cadence takes on a different meaning in music. It’s more about movement as notes, intervals, chord progressions, and syncopations transition from a state of tension to a state of resolution. What movement brings cadence to your team?

Tension is difficult for most teams to manage. Harmony feels much better. Teammates feel out of tune with each other when mission and vision aren’t clear or when conflict shapes team interactions. Dissonance seeks harmony.

Whenever a teammate fails to show respect or follow through with a commitment, the group falls out of rhythm. When teams take risks to promote discovery and innovation, the choice to get out of sync is intentional. Tension seeks resolution.

Change is the enemy of harmony. It causes distance between teammates and generates unpleasant emotions. Letting go of a connection feels unnatural. Seeing a brighter future is difficult when the team is depleted and disconnected. Loss seeks attachment.

When music is composed, tension is created on purpose to make the listener yearn for comfort. When the minor triad resolves to a major chord, the body is filled with relief. Whether by changing a note, striking a chord, or shifting the beat, disparate parts are made whole

What movement is next for your team?

  • Indecision to clarity?
  • Caution to trust?
  • Safety to exploration?
  • Disengagement to engagement?

Treasure the tension. Resolution doesn’t happen without it. New teams are supposed to experience frustration. Growing teams need pain to stretch. Fear is normal for innovating teams. Depletion is natural consequence of change.

While you may be stuck in an uncomfortable place for a while, the movement to the next phase always feels better. Find your cadence.

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.