Executive Coaching Connections, LLC

Learning is not a one-time event or a periodic luxury. Great leaders in great companies recognize that the ability to constantly learn, innovate, and improve is vital to their success. – Amy Edmondson



Where does most of your learning take place today?

With more work being accomplished through teams than ever before, you’re probably learning more than you realize in team settings.

Team learning leverages some of the same elements that make teamwork both rewarding and challenging: synergy, collaboration, communication, and conflict. By enhancing and encouraging more team learning, you can create nimble learners and a stronger overall learning organization.

Here are 2 smart ways to encourage learning with your team(s):

  1. Start with mindset. In her 2012 book Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy, Amy Edmondson describes how traditional management mindsets often stand in the way of learning, by emphasizing compliance over experimentation. According to Edmondson, “Today’s effective leaders differ from even the most successful managers in yesterday’s routine-intensive organizations. The difference starts with a basic mindset about human beings.”

    Successful leaders demonstrate trust, show respect, and assume responsibility for helping team members successfully navigate through conflict. Think about your own mindset, and consider:
    • In what ways does your current mindset support the team’s ability to learn?
    • How might your mindset be hindering team learning?
    • What 1 thing could you try in your next team meeting to encourage more learning (ex. supporting a pilot or an experiment to solve a pressing problem, soliciting ideas from your team, conducting an after-action review, etc.)?

  2. Create more learning opportunities. How you frame a task has a stronger influence on learning than you might expect. Research has shown that when tasks are framed as performance situations, we tend to become more risk averse and less likely to persist through challenges. However, when tasks are positioned as learning situations, we persist longer, demonstrate willingness to experiment, and rely less on previously unsuccessful strategies – we learn more. According to Edmondson, “A learning opportunity is the right frame if the work will involve solving new problems. An execution frame applies well if the tasks ahead are completely routine and the coordination entirely programmed.” To create more learning opportunities, consider:
    • What new problems is your team facing right now?
    • Is there someone (or a few people) on your team whom you could ask to explore one of these problems, as a learning opportunity?
    • What problem could your team potentially explore together, as a shared learning opportunity?

Strengthen team learning to position your team and organization for greater success.

For more leadership and learning insights, join ECC on LinkedIn and Twitter. If you could use some help with strengthening team learning, ECC can help. Give us a call at +1.847.920.0190.