Constructive conflict in an office is when different people want the same outcome, but see different paths to getting there. The direction is clear, but the means remains undecided. Even if your favorite path is not selected, you still win when the outcome is achieved.
Conflict is far less constructive when the outcome is up for grabs. Different people arguing for different end goals. The direction of the company? Growth targets? The vision or mission? Office politics becomes about lobbying people to support you and not to support other people. Too much energy and time is wasted on personal arguments and power grabs.
Great leaders ensure that the team is clear on the end goals, and encourage everyone to contribute ideas on how to get there. Constructive conflict can be rewarding for an organization – it forces us to challenge our beliefs and to consider new ways of doing things.