Many people in business believe the opposite of conflict is collaboration, however, this is not quite true.

The opposite of conflict is conformity, and that’s the same conformity that stifles business creativity and growth.

Conflict offers opportunity to learn, create and grow. So it raises a challenging question: Do leaders in your business see conflict as welcome and necessary, or do they act quickly to shut down signs of tension?

Not all conflict is the same

Of course, it’s important to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy conflict in the workplace.

Healthy conflict is focused on facts, ideas and learning. People look forward to opportunities and solutions, and debates are open and respectful without being personal.

Unhealthy conflict creates resentment and division because it is directed at personality and self-interest. It causes division and a costly draining of resources, including high levels of disengagement, absenteeism and turnover.

Here are some tips for you on how to create a truly collaborative environment by encouraging and managing, healthy conflict.

5 ways to create healthy conflict

1. Lead by example

Welcome being challenged and constantly encourage feedback. Surround yourself with diversity in all its manifestations.

2. Create clear norms

Ensure that your teams know what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. As a leader, what you accept you approve—so if the group norms aren’t what you want, then look at yourself first and ask why.

3. Create common purpose

Unifying your teams with a solid foundation of shared purpose (the big picture) to harness the power of one team.

4. Build the capability for collaborative problem solving

Collaborative problem solving is an essential element of any harmonious, engaged and productive work environment.

5. Create some fun

Teams that have fun usually have lower levels of interpersonal conflict. Fun helps people distance themselves psychologically from the stress of everyday life, by creating a sense of perspective. So give yourself licence to have a bit of fun!

Ride the wave of conflict

Conflict is inescapable. It is how you lead and facilitate it that makes all the difference.

Leaders who nurture healthy debate also champion a rich culture of respect, teamwork and results. They lead innovative organisations that dare to challenge the status quo.

In the end, it’s all about driving business growth which you cannot achieve without building a collaborative environment where a one team culture can thrive.