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Friday, January 30, 2015

Developing Learning Teams-Lessons from the Military

Teamwork is the bread and butter of creating stronger organizations.  Research in military teamwork and leaders can help organizations develop higher levels of functioning teams that learn and develop with each new challenge. Transformational leaders matched with learning teams can produce some of the highest outputs in performance. When developing your next team you will be wise consider a few lessons from the services.

It is first beneficial to understand what a learning team is. Learning teams are capable of taking in new information and adapting to the environment around them. When these teams are capable of changing to stressors they become stronger and are more capable to solving problems in a ways that help them survive.

According to a study on military teams in challenging situations  a transformational leader matched with a learning team can create positive adaptation (Di Schiena, et. al, 2013). Adaptation being the process of developing to a higher level of functioning through new knowledge, higher mental models and shared vision.

New challenges bring more opportunities to learn, integrate the information, and put it to practical use. As teams stay together and face these challenges they also begin adjust themselves to handle new situations when they arise. Transformational leadership provides that extra push to keep the team changing and moving in the same direction.

The study helps business leaders understand that team development is more than throwing a bunch of people together to find a solution. Developing a strong team requires facing challenges and then adapting to those challenges. Each successful adaptation creates a stronger business team that can handle more difficult situations.

Teams don’t always adjust without some level of guidance. When put under major pressure a team can dissipate into chaos. Transformational leaders help to ensure the team stays pliable and continues to adjust without disintegration. Businesses should connect teams with transformational leadership to help them build new models on how to compete.

Di Schiena, R., et. al. (2013). Relationship between leadership and characteristics of learning organizations in deployed military units: an exploratory study. Administrative Sciences, 3 (3).        

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