Enabling team learning when members are prone to contentious communication : the role of team leader coaching

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Michigan State University
  • Peres Academic Center, School of Business Administration


Members of teams are often prone to interpersonal communication patterns that can undermine the team's capacity to engage in self-learning processes that are critical to team adaptation and performance improvement. We argue that team leader coaching behaviors are critical to ensuring that team discussions that may foster learn new teamwork skills and strategies are unfettered by the tendency of two or more members to exhibit contentious interpersonal communications. We accordingly test a model in which team contentious communication moderates the mediated relationship of team leader coaching behaviors on team innovation effectiveness and team task performance. In a study of 82 work teams, team leader coaching exhibited indirect, positive relationships with both team innovation effectiveness and team task performance through team learning, but only among teams with an average or higher level of contentious interpersonal communication. We discuss theoretical and practical implications for the leadership of teams.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1709–1727
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number8
Early online date20 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Contentious communication, Group communication, Team innovation, Team leader coaching, Team learning, Team performance