The Intimacy of Teams

Published: March 4, 2013

The eyes of the 21-year-old college student lit up as she raised her hand. She had experienced an epiphany. Suddenly, the theory of effective teaming crystallized when she applied it to a current romantic relationship. "I have a personal responsibility for my contribution to the relationship I've joined," she observed. "The entity itself needs to be nurtured and cultivated." Not surprisingly, the same "ah-ha" moment had occurred in a recent executive coaching conversation in a global telecommunications company with a senior leader twice her age.

The leader mapped out her strategy for unveiling the company’s reorganization plan. She had four teams in three geographies representing a range of talent functions. As she reflected on her message, she realized the need to be multilingual. Each conversation would need to answer both the “what does this mean for me?” as well as the “what does this mean for us?” questions. Depending on the teammate, these would be very different questions with very different answers. Each exchange would be unique to the background, circumstances, and perspective of that particular human connection.

Just like the bonds between members, the team is its own living, breathing, dynamic organism. Every interaction counts. Both investing and neglecting have consequences. Neglect causes distance and investment invites closeness. When our energies are distracted, the entity grows weaker. When we act as stewards of our connections, the entity strengthens and a professional level of intimacy is allowed to unfold.

Every connection. Every interaction. Every day.

Steve Ritter is the Founder & CEO of the Team Clock Institute and the Managing Director of the Midwest Institute & Center for Workplace Innovation. You can learn more about executive coaching opportunities at

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.