Building High Functioning Teams: Lessons Learned from the Battlefield of Afghanistan

Location: Jepson 123
Date: Sat, April 27
Time: 1:45 PM - 2:25 PM

Effective team building has been well-studied over the years with simple to complex models for improving team function offered. The cost of team dysfunction and employee turnover can be catastrophic, leaving leaders searching for practical actions to build relationally strong and cohesive teams. In this 30-minute in-person interactive workshop, predictors and warning signs of team dysfunction leading to employee turnover will be introduced. Through an overarching relational leadership theory framework, five simple, effective leadership practices will be offered resulting in healthy team dynamics and reduced staff turnover.


Effective team building has been well-studied over the years with simple to complex models for improving team function offered (LaFasto & Larson, 2001; Northouse, 2013). The cost of team dysfunction and employee turnover can be catastrophic, leaving leaders searching for practical actions to build relationally strong and cohesive teams. One new promising theory for examining team dynamics is relational leadership theory. Relational leadership theory is a term coined by Mary Uhl-Bien to describe an emerging overarching framework for a variety of philosophical stances and methodological approaches to study relationship (Ospina & Uhl-Bien, 2012, p. xxiii). Studies in relational leadership theory have historically followed two distinct epistemologies. Entity perspective, postpositivist epistemology proposes relationship is there to be discovered and relationship behaviors can be quantified and measured. Constructionist perspective, postmodern epistemology proposing relationship is for us to create. (Ospina & Uhl-Bien, 2012) The greatest opportunity for advancing our understanding of relational leadership theory may be to draw on the best of both approaches. In this this 30-minute in-person interactive workshop, predictors and warning signs of team dysfunction leading to employee turnover will be introduced. Through an overarching relational leadership theory framework five simple, effective leadership practices will be offered resulting in healthy team dynamics and reduced staff turnover. References LaFasto, F., & Larson, C. (2001). When teams work best. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Larson, C. E., & LaFasto, F. M. J. (1989). Teamwork: What must go right/what can go wrong. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Ospina, S., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2012). Mapping the terrain. Convergence and Divergence around relational leadership. In S. Ospina, & M. Uhl-Bien (Eds.), In Advancing Relational Leadership Research. A Dialogue Among Perspectives. (pp. xix-xx). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Interactive Workshop