Sister Corita Kent: 10 rules for collaboration

Collaboration is the holy grail of teamwork.

Essential to teaming is a sublimation of ego. You put aside yours aside so that you can listen to someone else’s ideas. Your ego never goes away, nor should it, but you tone it down to be open to something else: learning.

This theme resonates in “10 Rules for Students and Teachers.”  The “10 Rules” were originally written by Sister Corita Kent, an influential artist and educator. She was a friend of composer John Cage, who popularized the rules and had them posted for students at Merce Cunningham Studio.

Themes in the “10 Rules” revolve around trust as well as the push to get out of the experience what you can. Self-discipline is important as the need to follow a leader when necessary.

“Be happy when you can manage it.” As Sister Corita says, “Enjoy yourself. It is lighter than you think.”

John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2018, Trust Across America honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Trust. Also in 2018, named Baldoni a Top 100 Leadership Speaker. Global Gurus ranked him No. 22 on its list of top 30 global experts, a list he has been on since 2007. In 2014, named Baldoni to its list of top 50 leadership experts. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including his newest, “MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.”

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We are all leaders when it comes to conversation

Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today's post is by Cheri B. Torres.

Ever said or overheard, “I can’t do anything about it. I’m not the leader!” Nothing could be further from the truth.

No matter what role you play in an organization, you have the power to influence conversations. And everything that happens in an organization is influenced by conversation.

Conversation is like water in which we swim. We are always engaged in conversation, either internally with ourselves or externally with others. Yet, we are seldom aware of our words and the influence they are having. Just like fish, who’s health and well being depend upon water quality, our well being, health and success depends upon the quality of our conversations. Research has determined they can add or deplete years from our life and predict success in teams and organizations.

Here’s why: Our words affect our brain chemistry.

  • If we feel devalued, threatened, blamed, shamed or judged, a flood of stress hormones, including cortisol, norepinephrine, and testosterone, are released. These hormones stimulate fight, flight, freeze or appease behaviors. They leave us with an urge to protect ourselves, inhibiting our ability to connect with others and limiting our creative and critical thinking. Over time, stress hormones weaken our immune system and steal years of life.
  • When we feel valued, safe, included and encouraged, a different set of hormones are released, including oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. These are “feel good” hormones. They open up and expand our brain’s capacity for connecting with others and give us access to creative and critical thinking. Feel good hormones improve our immune system and add years to life.

Since each one of us starts or enters into conversations, each of us can take a leadership role in making sure we engage in conversations that help everyone in them feel good. Being intentional about how we talk to each other allows us to foster “we” thinking, helping to build strong and productive teams.

How do we do that? Two simple practices:

  1. Ask generative questions -- of yourself and others. These are questions for which you don’t have answers and about which you are curious. The answers to them help make the invisible visible, build shared understanding, deepen relationships, and surface possibilities. For example:
    • If you suddenly withdraw during a meeting because you’re feeling threatened or unsure, instead of staying there, ask yourself: "Where’d that response come from? Is it justified? Could I have misunderstood? What might I ask here or how could I add value?"
    • If you observe someone else acting defensively or devaluing another, instead of joining in or getting defensive yourself, you can ask: "What’s going on for you? What would you like to have happen? How can I support you? What do you need?"
    • If people (including your boss or the “official” leader) are stuck or dealing with a complex challenge instead of throwing up your hands along with everyone else, you can ask: "Do you think the whole team working together might be able to break through this? What is it that our customers really want? What are we trying to accomplish? What’s our bottom line aspiration?"
  2. Begin with a positive frame. Talk about what you want instead of what you don’t want. Create an appreciative tone and a positive direction for your conversations. For example:
    • If a colleague isn’t holding up their end of the workload, instead of talking about how they are failing, initiate a conversation about what they need to meet deadlines or workload.
    • If meetings in your organization are a waste of time, instead of talking about how bad meetings are, frame the conversation to talk about making meetings efficient, effective and engaging.

People at any level of an organization can use their words to initiate or shift a conversation. Anyone can ask a question that might disrupt ordinary thinking to make way for new ideas. We are all conversational leaders -- if we choose to be.


Cheri B. Torres, Ph.D., is the co-author of bestselling book, Conversations Worth Having: Using Appreciative Inquiry to Fuel Productive and Meaningful Engagement, with Jackie Stavros. She’s also a keynote speaker, senior consultant with and partner at Innovation Partners International, specializing in training and development.

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How to Bond With Your Employees Without Compromising Your Authority

Set expectations and communicate.

Why success alone doesn’t mean you’ve made real progress

During my four months in the FBI Academy, I shot over 3,000 rounds of ammo in firearms training, spent untold hours in the gym building up enough muscle to pass the fitness test, and endured an endless number of mock interrogation sessions.

We spent hundreds of hours practicing real life situations so that when we hit the streets with our badge and gun as newly minted FBI agents, we would be successful.

It didn’t take me long in the real world of hard knocks to understand that practice doesn’t always make perfect. Just because I’d practiced how to be a federal law enforcement office in training, it didn’t mean I’d be successful. Those long hours of practice were not enough if I lacked the other attributes I’d need for ultimate success.

The “10,000-hour rule” popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Outliers" really rankles me.

He seduced readers into thinking that practice does make perfect if we just keep hammering away at it along enough.

To begin with, just because we put 10,000 hours into an activity it doesn’t mean we’ve made progress and become an expert. We all know people who have shuffled to work every day for 40 years, punched a time clock and put in well over 10,000 hours. Many of them were neither successful nor an expert. To become an expert means that we move the marker down the line to show progress has been made.

We all understand how failure provides ample opportunity for growth and progress, personally and professionally. What we fail to understand, however, it that it’s very difficult to learn from success. Too often, success is where we stop on our journey to the realization of our full potential. We settle for where we found success rather than pursue what is truly meaningful to us.

Here are three reasons you need more than success to make genuine progress in both life and business:

Success lulls us into complacency

One thing FBI agents learn early on in training is it’s not the streets or guns that will kill you. Rather, complacency is what will put you in harm’s way! Always be alert and aware of what is going on in your environment.

When you pursue things you love, it produces passion, and passion brings motivation. If you’re to the point where you just go through the motions, complacency has set in. Complacency is where you go to wither up and die.

The biggest battlefield in the world goes on inside our mind. It’s the place we make life-and-death decisions about the way we live, what’s meaningful to us and what we’re willing to do in order to live the life we want.

Complacency will cause you to stray from the path of growth and progress, which may not sound like a death sentence at first. But it is where you will go once you no longer care about improvement, either in business or life.

How to make it work for you: Go back to the drawing board and write your goals. To be effective, they must transcend money or success. You may make money and achieve success along the way, but remind yourself of why you love what you do. Be a student of your passion and you’ll jettison complacency from your mindset.

Success makes us overconfident

Look no further than Alan Greenspan and the financial meltdown in 2008 for an example of how success can make us overconfident. In October 2008, Greenspan admitted to Congress he was shocked that his financial models had failed. He no longer looked at them with a critical eye because they’d worked in the past.

Alexander Pope once said: "A little learning is a dangerous thing." Studies have shown that just a little learning is enough to make people feel they’d learned the complete task. It’s called the “beginner’s bubble.”

My training at the FBI Academy gave me just enough knowledge to feel overconfident in my abilities. What I quickly learned is that I needed more than my puerile successes at the Academy to be an effective FBI agent; I needed to make progress if I wanted to make a difference in my profession.

After we move up a few notches on the ladder of success, the beginner’s bubble is replaced by a “victory bubble.” Our success leads us to believe we’re better decision makers than we really are. It also fails to remind us that the market and environment around us constantly change. 

Research has found that doctors learning to do spinal surgery usually do not begin to make mistakes until about their 15th iteration of the surgery. Similarly, new pilots rarely get into accidents, but their accident rate begins to rise until it peaks at about 800 flight hours, after which it begins to drop again.

How to make it work for you: Overconfidence is a common character flaw in those who lack humility. To be humble is not to think less of oneself, but to think of oneself less. Work to develop your emotional intelligence. If you do, you’ll be more aware of yourself and others around you. Emotionally intelligent people focus outward as they absorb more information about the people and situation around them.

Success causes us to ignore advice

If we’re successful and in a position of authority, we tend to shut down criticism and shut out people with opinions that differ from our own. We place more weight on our opinion than on the opinion of others because we’ve used our judgment to get to where we are in life.

And it works! Until it doesn’t.

When you ignore the advice of others, you may miss innovations, fail to recognize a dip in the market or ignore the rumblings of a demoralized team. Maybe you had the winning formula back in the day, but times have changed. You may need to update your views for an environment that constantly changes direction.

There are many reasons why successful leaders don’t welcome advice from others. First, the ego takes a hit because you admit you don’t have all the answers. Well, that just means you’re human so get over it. Second, advice often means change, and no one welcomes change except babies—and that’s only because they know what to expect. But change is the breeding ground for growth and progress.

How to make it work for you: Seek feedback because it’s the best path to improvement, growth, and success. When you ask for advice and feedback, it shows everyone that you’re willing to learn and become better. And that is always progress.


LaRae Quy was an FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent for 24 years. She exposed foreign spies and recruited them to work for the U.S. government. As an FBI agent, she developed the mental toughness to survive in environments of risk, uncertainty, and deception. Quy is the author of “Secrets of a Strong Mind” and “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths.” If you’d like to find out if you are mentally tough, get her free 45-question Mental Toughness Assessment. Follow her on Twitter.

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5 myths of work-life balance debunked by an entrepreneurial dad

As a husband, dad and small-business owner, I frequently find myself asking hard questions about work-life balance, what it means and how to get it. Over the last year, I talked to a lot of other dads and husbands who were at different points in their careers with kids of all ages about their perspectives around work-life balance.

Unfortunately, from many men who held “big” jobs, I heard stories about missing a lot of things with their kids because of their jobs and how much they genuinely lamented that.

That combined with my own desire to figure out how to pay the bills and while still being an integral and active part of my family, I completely rethought my own approach to work-life balance. I learned some really important things. Not the least of those things was that there are a lot of men out there like me who do care quite a bit about work-life balance -- even if many of us aren’t great at talking about it.

Here are five other important things about work-life balance that I learned in my yearlong journey:

1. You won’t kill your career by setting firm boundaries between work and life

Technology has all but eliminated natural boundaries between work and life. Many of us feel the pressure to be accessible all the time, thus blurring the lines between work and life. The collateral damage of that situation is often felt on the “life” side of the equation.

But what if you actually compartmentalized? Would there be collateral damage to our careers?

I decided to implement strict boundaries between work and life and did that for an entire year. I initially feared that it could have significant negative impacts on my business. What I found was that it didn’t. I haven’t lost one client. Revenue has not suffered.

2. You can put family first

Similarly, putting the family first is something many of us fear as simply not possible, especially if we are the sole financial provider. I tried it anyway, even as the sole financial provider.

What I learned was that putting family first actually helped me “guiltlessly” dive more into work. Family came first, so the guilt of being an absentee husband or dad went away.

With no guilt, I was able to set better boundaries around work, which ultimately made me more focused, efficient, and effective. At the same time, with a more limited and focused time allocated for work, putting my family first actually forced me to ruthlessly prioritize at work. All of this in combination allowed me to actually enjoy my work more. 

3. “Work-life blend/integration” is not the only viable solution (despite what many say)

There is a lot of talk about work-life balance being a myth and that we should just embrace work-life blend. What I learned is that you can indeed do a compartmentalized work-life balance approach. It does require a willingness to accept the implications of that compartmentalization.

For me, I strictly compartmentalized key times and days where I was going to separate work and life. Interestingly, it helped me “be in the moment” more for both work and life and actually enjoy both more.

4. Work-life balance is not a 50:50 proposition

Time in life and priorities about what is most important dictate an appropriate ratio. One dad reframed work-life balance into “work-life satisfaction.” The concept of exact balance is misleading. Your ratio is simply the result of what you really want to be focusing on.

Given my family situation, my ratio is 65:35 right now skewed towards the life side of the equation. It will inevitably be different five, 10 and 15 years from now.

5. Work-life balance comes down to hard choices we haven’t forced ourselves to make before

At the end of it all, the hardest and simultaneously most straightforward thing I learned is that it simply comes down to priorities. And every priority has up and down side implications -- just like it does in our jobs.

For me, one of the implications of my 65:35 split and focus on my family is that I’ve had to accept that my small business needs to move from growth mode to sustain mode. For others I’ve talked to, it’s about whether you pursue or don’t pursue greater responsibilities at work. Or whether travel for work fits with what you want or don’t want at home.

The decisions are hard. Living with the implications can be even harder at first, especially if you are like me and had never forced yourself to do that before. I found that once I was willing to do this, work-life balance was indeed very attainable.


James Sudakow is the author of "Out of the Blur: A Delirious Dad’s Search for The Holy Grail of Work-Life Balance," a humorous and practical guide for busy parents. He serves as the principal of CH Consulting, a boutique consulting practice that helps companies manage organizational transformation, maximize employee capabilities, and improve business performance. Readers can visit his website and take the Work-Life Index, an assessment to find out if they are in control of their work-life balance or if their work and life are controlling them.

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Have you heard the term “insecure overachiever” and if so, would you consider yourself one?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from over 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

Have you heard the term “insecure overachiever” and if so, would you consider yourself one?​

  • Yes. I have heard it, but I am not one: 18%
  • Yes. I have heard it, and I definitely am one: 29%
  • No. I have never heard the term: 53%

Insecurity driving achievement. A term that’s been around for a long time is being an “insecure overachiever.” These people (myself included) have insecurities about their performance or their position and those insecurities lead them to invest disproportionate effort into their work. That effort often leads to great achievements. When kept in check, these dynamics can be stressful yet yield great results. Unchecked, they can lead to a complete loss of work-life balance and a loss of perspective on what’s really important. If you’re an insecure overachiever, set boundaries for your work efforts. Cut back on weekend work and late nights. Believe what they’re telling you in your great performance reviews. If you manage one of these people, be sure to let them know where they stand and how solid their work is. Keep an eye out for them losing a sense of balance. Burn out can lead to severe consequences.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."

7 Ways Brilliant Entrepreneurs Stop Doubting Their Genius

Self-doubt is natural. It's the wallowing in despair that you have to stop.

Be a great leader: Leverage the wisdom of multiple perspectives

You’ve worked hard to become an expert in your field. You’re highly regarded; a leader and someone to whom people look for answers. You team routinely looks to you and defers to you on how you think a problem should be tackled.

Good leaders usually know the answers, it’s true, but great leaders know who, how and when to ask to get the best solutions and the best team working on the problem.

By now. you’ve probably read that being someone who can see and incorporate multiple perspectives is a highly sought executive skill, but what does that entail? How do we go from a career of relying on problem-solving intuition and selling our own ideas to carefully considering every angle? How do we avoid the pitfalls?

If you want to learn how to incorporate multiple perspectives into your leadership toolkit, read on for six ways you can encourage alternate perspectives and foster the most dynamic results.

  1. Be curious. It may seem simple, but first, you have to want to learn about others’ perspectives. Be genuinely curious about other opinions and points of view. If your team is used to following your lead, you’re going to have to ask for their thoughts -- don’t wait for others to volunteer. You may even need to overcompensate for a bit, reassuring others that you want to know what they think and easing them into the habit of sharing their opinions.
  2. Be encouraging. It may help to consider that part of your job as a great leader is not just being an expert, but also creating them. Your credentials in your field are already established; now it’s your turn to draw ideas out of others and build effective leadership qualities in those below you. Encourage everyone to share their thoughts while you hold yours in check. Make sure to ask everyone, even those who don’t immediately volunteer.
  3. Be humble. Even as you practice growing your team’s problem-solving and opinion-sharing skills, don’t set your opinion as the “top of the stack” by default. Be humble and open-minded -- always assume you are about to hear a great idea. Never forget that in order to really draw your team to you, they have to be able identify with you as a leader. For that, they’re not looking for infallibility, they’re looking for relatability. Make sure your team knows you’re not perfect and you’re not looking for perfection from them, either. Create a relationship where they feel safe to share their ideas.
  4. Be equal. How do you ask for the opinions of your superiors? Your peers? Your team will notice if you don’t give the same care and consideration for how you consider their thoughts and ideas. Be sure that you are as receptive and open to ideas from below as above you. Remember: Your role is twofold; the next great idea could come from anywhere, and even if it doesn’t, it’s your job as a leader to foster that problem-solving and opinion-sharing in your team. Let them exercise those muscles with you at every opportunity.
  5. Be flexible. We’ve all been in that situation where we’ve been asked for our opinion by someone who doesn’t really want it and is perhaps asking out of habit or to be polite. It’s important to be genuine in your questions, open in your exploration and truly willing to change your mind. It will become progressively harder to draw ideas out of others if you gain a reputation of never wavering from your opinion. Be willing to take a step back and truly consider other perspectives if you want to keep the dialogue open.
  6. Be passionate. When a great idea comes from someone else on your team, be sure you pursue it and champion their opinion with the same passion you would apply to your own. Once you’ve gathered those alternate perspectives from your team, don’t forget to foster them moving forward. Motivate them by promoting their ideas and promoting them as experts within your organization. Model the enthusiasm with which you want to see your team fight for their own ideas.

How are you going to draw opinions from others? What techniques will you use to foster an open and idea-rich environment?

Make a plan on how you are going to be open and encouraging so that you can gain your team’s trust and unleash their creative thinking. Become a great leader who can see a problem from all sides, and you’ll become the one in your organization known to find the best solution from any perspective.


Joel Garfinkle is an executive coach who recently worked with a vice president who was perceived as narrowly focused and inflexible with his opinions. Garfinkle developed these six guidelines on the path to becoming a champion of other perspectives and was able to help the VP gain the trust of his team in seeking out new and innovative ideas. Garfinkle has written seven books, including "Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level." More than 10,000 people subscribe to his Fulfillment@Work newsletter. If you sign up, you’ll receive the free e-book "41 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now!"

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The CEO, but Not the Founder: How to Lead an Already-Established Tech Company

There are lessons to learn from the missteps of CEOs like Travis Kalanick and Carly Fiorina. Are you paying attention?

Why should leaders increase their EQ?

I recently gave a speech on the topic of emotional quotient (also called emotional intelligence) to an audience of over 1,000 people. After my presentation, I went to lunch along with the participants. Sitting at the table just behind me were two women who struck up a conversation about my presentation. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop a bit.

“Look! It’s him,” one woman said.

Her companion retorted sarcastically, “Do you really think all of that stuff he talked about even works?”

Her friend replied, “Well, if you speak to others the way you just answered me, then I think you need to pay attention to some of what he said!”

I laughed. This short exchange caused me to think of all the advantages available to people who invest time and effort in improving their emotional intelligence. 

The notion of emotional intelligence was identified in the late 20th century through the research conducted by Peter Salovey and John Mayer. Daniel Goleman built on this research and popularized the notion of EQ and its application to business.

In the past, it was thought that people with higher IQ would outperform people with lower IQ. Interestingly enough, research showed that people with higher IQ outperformed people with lower IQ only about 20% of the time, while people with lower IQ outperformed people with higher IQ 70% of the time. Researchers discovered that the critical difference was EQ, or emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize one’s emotions and the emotions of others and to manage those emotions to achieve more effective results. You could simply ask yourself, “In a moment of high or negative emotion, do I have my feelings or do they have me?”

Your emotional intelligence affects a variety of factors that contribute to individual and organizational success.

Here are 10 advantages of becoming more emotionally intelligent:

1. Self-awareness. People with high EQ understand themselves more deeply. They realize what is important to them and are committed to their own growth and development. They are open to feedback that will help them improve. They are also more aware and sensitive to the feelings of others.   

2. Communication. People with high emotional intelligence recognize the importance of communicating clearly and respectfully. They are able to stay calm in the face of highly emotional reactions of others. They know how to defuse defensiveness and to discover the underlying causes of a person’s emotional reactions. This allows them to influence others, to solve problems more effectively and to maintain the quality of their relationships.

3. Leadership. Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to control themselves, their emotions, thoughts and actions in a positive manner. This self-control helps them to behave consistently as they influence and connect with those that they manage. They build trust and work to maintain a positive culture and demeanor among members of their team.

4. Change. Implementing innovation and trying to adapt to needed change can become a source of frustration, anger or a lack of empathy. People who are emotionally intelligent can manage the stress and anxiety that often comes with change. Being able to manage a variety of tense situations helps to instill trust and confidence in others while helping them to more easily and confidently make progress in stressful times.

5. Teamwork. Working with the many viewpoints of other people is never easy. Being able to share ideas openly and honestly helps team members increase respect for each another while learning to value differing points of view. Leaders who are emotionally intelligent don’t control or manipulate the team dynamic to get what they want. Rather, they work together to contribute solutions which are best for the business and the goals they are trying to achieve.


6. Culture. Cultivating an environment where everyone respects and trusts one another creates a culture of support and mutual benefit. This type of positive environment is enjoyable and rewarding for those who work together. Such a collaborative culture increases retention and establishes good will among company members and teams. 

7. Compassion. Emotional intelligence promotes compassion and empathy for others. Knowing how to approach and connect with people aids understanding and builds respect. The ability to demonstrate empathy is key. Practicing empathy helps strengthen relationships, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase understanding in a time where meeting goals and deadlines is often valued more than people.  

8. Motivation. Emotionally intelligent people are frequently optimistic and not easily derailed when facing a challenge. They are hard workers with a growth mindset, and they persevere in the face of obstacles. They are driven by a sense of ambition to be successful, no matter what the situation, and their energy is infectious. They focus on purpose and process when things get tough rather than assigning blame to people and performance.

9. Productivity. Because people with high EQ know how to appropriately deal with conflict and differing values, they are not derailed by others’ negative or “hot” emotions. These leaders can manage themselves and know how to help others reclaim their rationality during heated exchanges. Their skills help them to solve problems and manage conflict more efficiently. Consequently, they are more productive in their work behavior and enable others to do the same.

10. Relationships. The quality of our relationships has a direct impact on the respect we have for one another, as well as the quality of results we are able to achieve. Knowing how to build and maintain effective relationships is one key to effectively working with others. People with high EQ do not take the negative emotional reactions of others personally. Instead, they seek to understand the source of others’ feelings and the values that are important to others. This allows them to effectively engage rather than avoid those who might react more emotionally in the workplace.

These are only a few of the advantages of becoming more emotionally intelligent. So what’s the good news about EQ? The skills for becoming more emotionally intelligent may be learned and used to become more effective as a person and as a leader.

Your increased EQ will not only help you manage your work and personal relationships, but will also improve your ability to lead and manage others more effectively.


John R. Stoker is the author of “Overcoming Fake Talk” and the president of DialogueWORKS, Inc. His organization helps clients and their teams improve leadership engagement in order to achieve superior results. He is an expert in the fields of leadership, change, dialogue, critical thinking, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence, and has worked and spoken to such companies as Cox Communications, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell and AbbVie. Connect with him on FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter.

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