Can Conflict Be Beneficial?

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How can conflict increase performance?

It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that conflict is usually viewed in a negative way. After all, it can either be destructive or it could create breakthroughs in a positive way.

Remember  conflict is totally natural and normal at work. There will be disagreements over methods or goals, and there can also be conflict over values.

A little cautionary note on these three types of disagreements: conflicts over methods, goals, and values. It’s easier to resolve and reconcile conflicts around methods and goals. However, when you start disagreeing on values, it becomes really tough to get a resolution. As a leader, resist escalating something to the values level, when really it should be focused on a disagreement over methods and goals.

Be cautious about saying, “You just don’t care like I care and you just don’t believe in things like I believe in things.” This will make the conflict more and more difficult to resolve.

A good dose of healthy conflict can help your performance. Share on X

Cautionary note aside, let’s return to how to harness the positive aspects of conflict because the energy that gets created by these disagreements can actually cause better performance.

The first tip is to invite disagreement.


Because you want different points of view so you can select the best possible answers. As a leader, it’s important that you do NOT express your opinion at the beginning of the discussion; otherwise, others are more likely to agree with you and you won’t hear how they really feel or think.

manufacturing team

The second tip for harnessing the power of positive conflict is collaboration versus compromise. Collaboration means  the objective is to get to a win-win. It’s not always easy to get to a win-win, but if you can get there, that means both people feel they’ve gotten what they needed out of the conflict and achieved the best possible outcome.

The third tip is to embrace stubborn flexibility. That means there are times when, as the leader, you need to be stubborn and there are times to be flexible. Ideally, you’re going to bounce between the two. You might want to be stubborn about going for a collaborative win-win outcome, but you might be flexible in how you get there. Leaders are going to be the most successful when they have a spirit of curiosity and experimentation.

As a leader, don’t be afraid to harness the positives of conflict to generate the best possible performance and outcomes.