Team-Building: Designing an Effective Business Team – Part 2 of 7

Business meetingToday we’re starting Part 2 of a 7 Part Series on Team-Building.

In our strategic planning practice, we see a key differentiator for businesses from their competition is the success of their teams; how effectively they work together, innovate and implement their strategies. In this series we break down and discuss 7 key components of successful teams. Our topic today is Conflict:




How can this be part of an effective team? Why would it be a good thing to cultivate?

Conflict at its best can take thinking and idea generation to its furthest depth. Each member of the team brings unique personality and specific experience. This dynamic can produce tension yet also contribute to the innovative strength of the team. By pushing one another in an “idea battle” – solutions can be generated and discussed that might never have been raised. This important dynamic of an effective team is called productive idealogical conflict. It is conflict that is focused on concepts and ideas; a necessary and essential characteristic of great teams.

I. In order for conflict to be productive several qualities must exist:


The players need to feel safe within their team in order to be vulnerable to presenting ideas.


The team must respect all ideas. They can argue the value, but each needs to be considered and “tested” as a potentially successful goal or solution

 Conflict is about ideas and is not personal

The team must understand that idealogical conflict can display the same qualities of inter-personal conflict – those of passion, emotion and frustration.  Team members must be reminded that this is not personal. To keep the emotion at a concept level – it’s about developing the best ideas for the team

 “Bad ideas” generate “Good ideas”

Often an idea that seems ridiculous can generate thought for one that is “the solution”. Encourage ideas to be shared, respected, and critiqued – it is a process that ultimately succeeds and it takes a team willing to be vulnerable to all ideas to produce the best answers.

II.  Ways to promote “Productive Conflict” within a team:

The Leader Must Communicate…

  • Conflict is good and desired. It allows the team to produce the best possible solution in the shortest timeframe without “group think”.
  • Conflict is productive, not to be avoided and never personal. Do not fear it as a part of teamwork.


Assign a member to extract the buried disagreements, shed light on them, and commit to staying with them until they are resolved.

 Real-Time Permission

Recognize when members in debate become uncomfortable and reinforce what they are doing is important.

 Role of Leader

Demonstrate restraint, allow natural resolution, and personally model appropriate conflict behavior.

 Set Up Rules of Engagement in Advance

  • Agree to disagree
  • Respect all ideas
  • Assign the decision-maker when team is indecisive (CEO, COO, Manager, etc.)
  • Goal of productive conflict is to stay on the cutting edge of thought

Next in our series on Team Building – we will discuss Commitment to Action.

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