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What is conflict? 

“An active disagreement between people with opposing opinions or principles”. To differ, to be incompatible, to disagree – these all sound like negatives for any organisation.

However, conflict will affect all businesses, large or small, simple or complex. And conflict may be just what your organisation needs at the board or senior management level to challenge group thinking or cultivate innovative ideas.

When we are faced with conflict, we typically experience our body’s natural fight or flight reflex, with our temperatures rising, heart pounding and palms clammy.

Many choose flight, thus avoiding the conflict, whilst others opt to fight and confront it head on. There is a happy middle ground where a positive approach to managing conflict can be a useful catalyst for innovation and growth, and at the same time strengthening individuals and the collective group. 

How conflict can be a strength

Avoid a group mindset 

A board or senior management team can develop a group mindset, where the decisions made are not reflective of the individual members thoughts, but represents a blander view that everyone can agree on. A lack of diversity in senior positions can make the group mindset a very real risk to the effectiveness of a business. 

Develop better ideas

Ideas that are subject to challenge will have been well thought out and developed. Very rarely is our first version of an idea perfect and unable to be enhanced through a robust discussion of its merits. Ideas are “road tested” before they are presented in their final form. The process can also make us more committed to an idea.

New and innovative ideas

Conflict can involve a lot of dialogue back and forth, with input from a variety of sources. This process can encourage creativity and flexibility, leading to new ideas that wouldn’t be identified any other way. 

Drive change

Conflict usually leads to change and solutions being identified. This can be driven by the intense nature of conflict and challenge, which is then difficult to ignore once an expression of opposing views has taken place. 

Skill development

Conflict can create feelings of discomfort and anxiety. However, learning to manage it properly instils a sense of important leadership and life skills, such as listening, compromise, negotiation, influencing and accepting when you are wrong.

Understand other styles and behaviours

Observing how colleagues handle conflict can teach you a lot about them, their values, their styles and patterns of behaviour. By managing conflict, we also learn about ourselves too. Such observations can provide useful insights into colleagues, which can lead to more effective interpersonal relationships. Healthy conflict can produce positive outcomes, deepen relationships and act as a catalyst for good governance and growth.


Get in touch

For more information on turning conflict into an opportunity in your business, get in touch with our friendly team of tax and business advisers by contacting Robin on 01903 234094 or visit our website:


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