A View of the Field from the Corporate Suite

Published: September 30, 2011

I couldn't decide which show to watch: the team on the field or the team upstairs. Drama was unfolding in both locations. Sitting in a corporate suite at a professional sporting event provides a unique perch from which to observe team dynamics.

On the field, outstanding talent and proactive communication had combined to create a quick tally on the scoreboard. The crowd was roaring. Upstairs, a blend of veterans and newcomers were still feeling each other out. Putting a tally on the scoreboard would require clinching a deal. Stadium quality hotdogs and corporate sponsored beverages occupied the hands of most spectators. Participants were either using their hands to greet others or to manufacture athleticism. The game was being played in a parallel universe.

Upstairs, vocal tones and timbres ebbed and flowed in concert with the approach and avoidance of prospective business partners. On the field, fans vociferously encouraged good play and derided mistakes. Everyone was in a fishbowl. The quantity of activity seemingly unrelated to scoring far outpaced measurable wins in both locations. All of the movement on the field of play and in the corporate suite had a meaningful flow packed with good intentions and targeted objectives. Both closeness and distance were employed to accelerate or slow the dance between temporary mates. Testing and improvisation was everywhere. As the evening wore on, both teams gradually zeroed in on their goals.

In close and hard-fought matches, the night ended with two wins. The home team outscored their opponents on the field as a direct result of superior teamwork. Upstairs, partnerships defined the victory. Mutual benefit trumped the notion of one entity taking something from another. Entrepreneurial collaboration generated opportunities for both vendor and client. As tens of thousands of spectators and participants flowed shoulder-to-shoulder from their playing fields to the parking lots to their homes, congratulatory noises echoed against the internal silent celebrations filling the thoughts of the winners.

Effective teaming at its best!

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.