Team Lessons from the Change of Seasons

Published: October 12, 2022

The cycle of the seasons is a valuable reminder that living things require fresh fuel, reliable nurturance, space to grow, and an occasional reset. Just as the falling leaves provide spring fertilizer to plants awakening from a winter’s dormancy, teams harness the energy of change to recalibrate goals and direction. Fortunately, nothing stays the same. A shift in the business landscape or the addition/subtraction of a teammate alters the course. Some of these changes come unexpectedly. Most, however, are predictable. The key is knowing where you’re at in the cycle, why you’re there and, therefore, what comes next.

Pick any spot in the cycle you’d like. In the spirit of autumn, let’s start with a team going through a major change. It doesn’t matter what prompted the change, only that there is a transition to navigate.


Where are we in the cycle? A prior stage of growth has altered the team composition, strategic goals, or conditions for success.

Why are we there? We took measured risks and explored new territory with both predicted and unpredicted consequences.

What comes next? We’ll need to regroup and reconsider our goals and direction.


Where are we in the cycle? A sense of loss has subdued the team’s energy as teammates adapt to change.

Why are we there? Any significant change requires a period of letting go so teammates can step back and get perspective.

What comes next? An opportunity for renewal of the team’s mission and reinvestment in core values.


Where are we in the cycle? A surging renewal invites connection, collaboration, and commitment to team wellness.

Why are we there? The promise of exploration and discovery calls for a foundation of trust.

What comes next? Another developmental phase of growth and smart risk taking.


Where are we in the cycle? The team is poised to stretch its limits, experiment, and invent to solve previously vexing problems.

Why are we there? The navigation of change, recommitment to mission, and deepened trust made growth possible.

What comes next? Another round of adapting to the change the team created.

There’s always a next season. Each phase of the cycle has a unique purpose tied to the stages that preceded and will follow. So, whether it is the beautiful maple tree that turned red seemingly overnight or your favorite baseball team that fell apart when it mattered most, another chance for renewal is coming soon.

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.