Brighton Leadership Group

Constructive Conflict

Do you assume that all conflict is bad or destructive? Surrounding yourself with people who see things differently than you creates opportunity for conflict but is also a great way of achieving a new level of creativity and performance in your organization.
Conflicts can actually make you better at your job if you have a better understanding of how to work through them and even learn and grow from them. A study documented in Creativity and Innovation Management found that confrontational conflict yields better results in terms of creative output. Researchers observed video footage of teams during idea generation. They then compared the conflict behavior styles of each team to their creative output. The researchers concluded that creative performance in teams is not achieved mainly by agreement, but needs cognitive confrontation or constructive conflict.
What you can learn from this:

  • Don’t be afraid to challenge the ideas of people on your team (respectfully.) The outcomes of constructive conflict include higher levels of performance and ingenious thinking. Being too agreeable for the purpose of avoiding confrontation produces uninspiring outcomes.
  • Shift the focus from the negativity of the conflict to the possibilities created by it. Be an explorer and adopt a “discovery perspective” rather than “win/lose” or “perfection perspective.” See conflict as an opportunity for learning and explore ideas that could lead to a new and better approach.

When you practice constructive conflict you will take more risks and be more innovative. You will also create winners and learners, rather than winners and losers.
Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates to invention. It shocks us out of sheeplike passivity, and sets us at noting and contriving… Conflict is the sine qua non of reflection and ingenuity.” ~ John Dewey

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