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Building and Leading Resilient Teams: Module 5


Module 5: Increase the team’s ability to solve problems and overcome challenges by facilitating team learning (part 2).

When people work together as a team, they create shared experiences that they can learn from. As a leader, you are expected to facilitate this experiential learning process. Learning is how teams solve problems and overcome challenges. You can lead the learning process by ensuring that your team is constantly reflecting on its past and present experiences to assess performance and find ways to improve. As your team develops new ideas for improvement and change, you will need to approve and prioritize those ideas. Most importantly, it’s your responsibility to make sure these ideas get put into action, tested, and validated. Some ideas will work; some will not. Either way, team learning has occurred.


This module consists of two “at home” assignments (6 hours) that must be completed prior to the facilitated discussion (1-3 hours). Completing the preparatory assignments is essential for engaged participation in the facilitated discussion.

Assignment 1. Learn the following key terms and ideas. Knowing these key terms and ideas is essential to understanding the concepts that support each leader task in this module. (0.5 hours)

Key Terms and Ideas


Assignment 2. Reflect on your unique leader/follower experience with each of the leader tasks and concepts below. Consider ALL the reflection questions, prepare notes, and be ready to discuss during the facilitated discussion. The recommended reading is provided to help you gain a better understanding of the leader tasks and concepts. The reading will also prompt critical reflection on your leader/follower experience. (5.5 hours)

Note to Students and Instructors: The recommended reading for each leader task is updated routinely. Articles added in the last 30 days are marked (new). Instructors may assign additional reading or relevant videos at their discretion.

Leader Tasks and Concepts

3. Encourage constructive dialogue.

Constructive dialogue is essential for understanding the team’s shared experience. Constructive dialogue is how teams solve problems and overcome challenges together. Constructive dialogue is psychologically safe discussion between people of varying opinions and perspectives that seeks to develop understanding about important and complicated issues.

Psychological safety is the feeling or belief that you can share thoughts, opinions, and ideas freely without fear of damaging your reputation or standing. Trust and mutual respect are the foundations of psychological safety.

Psychologically safety promotes adaptive thinking. Adaptive thinking is the ability to recognize unexpected situations, quickly consider various possible responses, and make an appropriate decision.

In constructive dialogue, active listening is complemented by advocacy. Advocacy is promoting or defending an idea, plan, or way of doing something. Team members must be willing to take a stand and advocate for their ideas.

Constructive dialogue allows tacit knowledge to surface and transfer from one person to another. Tacit knowledge is subjective knowledge gained from personal experience that is stored in a person’s memory.

Recommended Reading:

Psychological Safety at Work

Redefining and Reinforcing Psychological Safety

How Psychological Safety Can Transform Your Organization

The Management Value of “Psychological Safety”

How to Lead When You’re Not the Boss

A Fly on the Wall in a Fearless Organization

Active Listening Skills


4. Build new mental models.

As teams work together over time, they develop shared mental models built on experience and training. Mental models are conceptual frameworks we use to relate knowledge, attribute meaning, and shape our understanding and expectations of the work environment. Shared mental models enable team members to accurately describe, predict, and explain the team’s expected behaviors and actions.

Shared mental models are not identical. Instead, they are compatible and complementary. Shared mental models enable better coordination, cooperation, and communication. Shared mental models enhance the team’s ability to solve problems, overcome challenges, improve, and innovate. Teams that share mental models make better collective decisions.

Change sometimes requires people and teams to build new mental models. In a dynamic environment where change is constant, people must routinely adapt to new plans, policies, processes, and procedures. Change is inevitable. When mental models are entrenched (not a bad thing), it makes change much more difficult and this is why change is usually resisted.

Change is not always about fixing something that is broken. Often, change is about taking something good and making it even better.

Single-loop learning is problem-solving by changing strategies and techniques to avoid mistakes and improve efficiency in existing systems. In single-loop learning, mental models do not change and decision-making rules remain the same.

Double-loop learning is about surfacing, challenging, and ultimately building new mental models. In double-loop learning, mental models do change and so the rules for making decisions must also change.


Recommended Reading:

The Mental Model Matrix

Double Loop Learning

Keep Me in the Loop

Amplify Learning In Your Team With More Double-Loop Learning

Double Trouble


Facilitated discussion. Be prepared to discuss your experience with each of the leader tasks and concepts above. The facilitated discussion is the key to successful learning because it ensures you have a thorough understanding of applicable factual (what), conceptual (why), and procedural (how) knowledge relevant to each leader task.


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