Conflict in a team is a sign of business communication gone wrong, right? Not necessarily. Yes, sure—some conflict is toxic. And yes, most people avoid conflict, but the highest performing business teams have learned to use conflict constructively to create optimal solutions.


At a recent coaching conference I attended, leadership consultant Bob Johnson reminded us that some athletes practice every day for years to compete for a few seconds to win a gold medal in the Olympics. And yet in business, he says, we almost never make time for practice; we expect to perfect our performance by competing all the time. Doesn’t make that much sense, does it?


Even if a team knows they should use constructive conflict to produce better results, if they never practice how to produce those results when the stakes are low, how can they expect to perform when the pressure is on and the stakes are high? They shouldn’t.


This article from reminds us that there are different types of conflict and that there is such a thing as positive conflict. How will you practice getting the most out of positive conflict in your workplace? How will you create the conditions that will help your team feel safe as they wrestle with conflict in low stakes situations so that they can produce optimal results when the stakes are high?


There’s no one “silver bullet” answer to those questions. It really depends on the team and on your individual leadership style. It’s like I tell my coaching clients: These questions may sound rhetorical, but they’re not. If you want to have a high-performing team, make sure you answer them them in a way that works for you!



Guillermo Villar is principal coach with Cambio Coaching. He helps high-achieving individuals and teams communicate with intention to get the business results they want.