Mark C. Crowley

Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century

What people feel in their hearts has profound influence over their motivation & workplace performance.
“In contrast to longstanding management thinking, the heart is the driving force of human achievement, and employee engagement is a decision of the heart.”
– Mark C. Crowley
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4 Simple And Powerful Ways To Build Your Team’s Confidence And Rule The World

Posted by on Dec 16, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons, Wisdom From Other Authors |

Confidence“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be.  If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it.  On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
                                        Mahatma Gandhi

As those of you who have read Lead From The Heart already know, throughout my entire childhood, I had the perverse experience of routinely being told I would end up a failure in life.

Through repeated and profoundly destructive interactions with my father, I was taught to believe that I fundamentally lacked.

My father’s influence, of course, had the effect of deeply undermining my self-confidence.  It made me doubt my capabilities and talents, and fearfully approach most new things.

How I overcame my great deficiency in self-belief had much to do with other people who came into my life – friends, teachers and coaches – who saw things differently and made a distinct point of insisting that I actually had much to offer.   In the context of all I was hearing at home, these words of encouragement gave me far more empowering views of myself, ones that inspired me to reach, to pursue greater challenges and to overcome my feelings of inadequacy.

When I later entered business and first became a manager of people, I made a surprising observation: the far majority of employees working for me had self-defeating doubts about how talented and capable they truly were.   Many consistently underestimated their full human potential.

Guessing that few of them had anything close to the upbringing I had – and that their parents likely did all they could to build up their self-esteem – I soon came to understand that fear and doubt are a part of the human condition.

In a peculiar way, I also realized I’d been groomed to help people transcend their unfounded limitations.  I knew instinctively that if I took on the role of being my teams’ chief confidence builder, great achievements would assuredly follow.  And, they did.

What I know for certain is that people have far greater potential than they often see in themselves.  Leaders who not only understand this, but seek out ways to draw it out, will be the ones who will rule the world.

If you’d like to get started building up the confidence of your team, here are four great ways to get started:

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Ken Blanchard: A Premier Leadership Mind Turns To The Heart

Posted by on Dec 2, 2012 in Current Affairs, Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons, Wisdom From Other Authors |

Leadership Sage, Ken Blanchard

Leadership Sage, Ken Blanchard

On a crisp and sunny afternoon at his cabin on Skaneateles Lake in upstate New York, internationally-renown business leadership expert, Ken Blanchard, surprises me by taking frequent and sudden breaks in the midst of the interview we’ve just begun.

He affectionately acknowledges his grandkids who randomly pop their heads into the room, patiently calms a barking dog, and fully excuses himself to greet the mail lady who delivers him packages every day by boat.

To judge him in this moment, unmistakably relaxed and easy-going, the 73 year-old author, thought leader, and management sage appears to be knee deep in retirement.

And Blanchard certainly has earned some R & R.  He’s written 55 books – selling a remarkable 20 million copies – and for the past three decades, has been the spiritual head of an eponymous training and consulting firm that serves clients in over 30 countries around the globe.  Along the way, he co-created Situational Leadership® theory and co-authored The One-Minute Manager – a modern day classic that celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

But winding down his career is the last thing on his mind.  Inspired by his friends, Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking author who worked well into his nineties, and motivational legend, Zig Ziglar, who told him directly to “re-fire, not retire,” Blanchard has no interest in calling it quits.  Instead, he’s on a two-month sabbatical for the explicit purpose of gearing up for the next chapter of his life.

Clearly vibrant in both heart and mind, Blanchard remains passionate about making a difference in the world – most especially in business.  Tied to his conviction that there remains a “desperate need for positive leadership role modeling” today, he’s eager to write more, speak more, and essentially live the brand of management and stewardship he’s grown to believe is requisite for the 21st Century workplace.

Downplaying an already luminous resume, Blanchard intentionally skirts away from questions related to his personal legacy.  Emphatically life affirming, he’s hired a nutritionist, a physical trainer – and has lost 35 pounds – all to ensure his body holds up as long as his spirit does.  After five decades of dedicated study, he’s now absolutely certain he’s acquired the wisdom about how to most successfully manage and inspire people in their jobs; and he appears unwilling to leave the planet until he’s shared it with all of us.

Character Building At An Early Age
Blanchard grew up in Westchester County, New York with parents who instinctively seemed to know they were grooming a future philosopher and teacher.

His mother, daughter of German emigrants and the only one of five children to earn a high school diploma, met her future husband – a Naval Academy and Harvard Business School graduate – on a commuter train heading into New York City.  According to Blanchard, their wide difference in educational backgrounds mattered little to his father.  “He’d never met anyone with such incredible energy and positive views on life,” and immediately was swept away.

Radiant positivity is characteristic of Blanchard’s own personality, apparently imbued in his DNA.  And his mother’s lessons on the importance of being a generous person would establish the foundation for his life’s philosophy.  “She taught me to give and be charitable with people insisting I never expect anything in return.  But she also told me to never be surprised by all the good that inevitably would come my way.”

Blanchard’s father graduated from Annapolis right after World War I.  With a reduced need for officers, the Navy released him to pursue an MBA and begin a career on Wall Street.  But when the prospects of a second world war later became imminent, he eagerly re-upped.

When Blanchard was just seven-years-old, his dad took him to the old Polo Grounds to see his first major league baseball game.  The St. Louis Cardinals were playing the hometown New York Giants, and the trip to the stadium was motivated by much more than introducing his young boy to the national pastime.  “There are two guys on the Cardinals who have values I think it would be good you looked at,” he told his son.

Vividly and nostalgically recalling the experience, Blanchard said one of the players was Enos Slaughter, who “ran to first on every hit as if his life depended on it.  After we saw Slaughter play, Dad told me ‘if you’re going to do anything in life, hustle.’”  The other player was Stan Musial, a 24-time All-Star considered one of the greatest hitters in baseball history.  “That Musial could hit well wasn’t really the point.  Musial was a perfect gentleman and my father was always focused on teaching me values.”

Synchronicity And The Evolution Of His Career
Blanchard’s greatest accomplishments seem to almost always be tied to chance meetings or other serendipitous events – and to his seizing these moments.

After graduating from Cornell with an undergraduate degree in Government and Philosophy, he applied to the best graduate schools in the country and was accepted at none of them.  A self-confessed average student, he struggled to matriculate anywhere until Colgate University admitted him provisionally.

With plans of becoming a college administrator, Blanchard enrolled in the school’s education program, a curriculum he quickly found both tedious and boring.

While having a beer at the Colgate Inn one afternoon, he struck up a conversation with a bar mate, someone who happened to be a new Sociology professor just joining the faculty.  Revealing a sober distress, Blanchard told his new friend how unhappy he was with his course work and how dispassionate he’d become about pursuing it.  Who knows what motivated the professor, but he not only persuaded his drinking companion to instantly change his major to Sociology – where Blanchard would first study Leadership – he personally ensured the transfer.

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Giving Real Meaning To Your Thanksgiving

Posted by on Nov 14, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons, Wisdom From Other Authors |

Guide To Diagramming Sentences

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
                           Thornton Wilder

A Note To Readers:
When you reach the end of this blog, I will have an assignment for you.  Now, while I believe the task I’ll be doling out will give you indescribable joy and satisfaction that may last inside you for days, it’s totally ok if you choose to stop reading now in order to dodge the added work.  My deepest hope, of course, is that you’ll hang in there to the end….

A Story Of Regret:
When I was fourteen-years-old, I was transplanted from Long Island, New York to a town three thousand miles away just outside San Diego.  A move like that is inherently stressful, especially when you have to settle in at a new high school in late November, two months after the semester has begun.

On my very first day, and in my very first class, I met a teacher who at first terrified me but who later profoundly changed my life.

Miss Adelma Dale was a no-nonsense women in her early sixties who was teaching sentence diagramming, an arcane method of explaining English grammar rules, that instantly struck me as entirely incomprehensible.

Out of fear, perhaps, and to hide my own confusion, I soon found myself acting out in class.  Within a couple weeks of meeting Miss Dale, she sent me to the Principal’s office twice.  Most days, she forced me to sit in the back of the room, literally behind the piano.

For the next six months, I hated going to this class. I routinely felt lost, and embarrassed by all her efforts to discipline me.  More than anything, I looked forward to the next year when I could change teachers and get out from under her oppression.

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Five Powerful And Purposeful Questions To Ask In Every Job Interview

Posted by on Oct 28, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons |

Frank Sinatra“Everyone has been made for some particular work and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.”
                                     Rumi, 13th Century

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.
                                     Pantajali, 2nd Century B.C

I’m intrigued by the idea that each of us has been put on this planet for a specific purpose.

Virtually all religious traditions, of course, tell us that nature has imbued unique gifts in every person, even a special destiny.

Given the extraordinary number of synchronistic events I’ve experienced throughout my own life, I’m unequivocally convinced that I’m doing the work I was “born to do.”

Think about these people: Frank Sinatra, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill.

Now try to imagine each of them doing something other than what originally made them so remarkable.

If you’re finding this task difficult, it’s simply because their profound talents and impact seem entirely unsuitable to any other conceivable career or job duties.

Now think back on the most productive and engaged employees you’ve ever managed.   Picture one or two of them in your mind.

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Great Leaders Decide With Their Guts, Not Just Their Brains

Posted by on Oct 14, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Wisdom From Other Authors |

HeartMath Logo

The Institute of HeartMath

“Dig up all the information you can, then go with your instincts. We all have a certain intuition, and the older we get, the more we trust it… I use my intellect to inform my instinct. Then I use my instinct to test all this data. ‘Hey, instinct, does this sound right? Does it smell right, feel right, fit right?
                                                General Colin Powell

The idea of using intuition when making important decisions is greatly frowned upon in business.

We’ve been taught that conscious reasoning alone is the sure-fire way of choosing the best course of action, and that our intuition is impulsive and inherently misguiding.  Stand up in a meeting and say, “I feel this is the right decision even though the financials don’t fully back me up,“ and expect an immediate backlash.

While we’ve all learned to be publicly dismissive about intuition, I’m absolutely certain you can quickly recall an experience when an inner voice steered you away from a disastrous outcome.   Is it logical that this voice doesn’t also speak up when workplace dilemmas need resolution?  Is that inner guidance untrustworthy in our jobs but fully reliable in our personal lives?

I’m guessing you have a hunch on the answers to both these questions, but if your mind isn’t yet fully able to reconcile the conflict, I have good news.  Science is coming to your aid.

According to Dr. Rollin McCraty, Director of Research at the Institute of HeartMath, human intuition – flashes of insight that can’t be judged by reasoning – is real.  More importantly, there’s compelling new research that proves leaders who act on their intuition achieve greater success.

Through the research performed by HeartMath and other organizations, we now know there are three unique types of intuition:

(1) Implicit Knowledge:  We learn something and forget we learned it.   While we’re taking a shower or are out for a run, it sneaks up from our unconscious into our conscious.  Voila, the insight we need in the moment pops into our heads.  About 95% of what’s written about intuition relates to “implicit knowledge.”

(2) Energetic Sensitivity:  Our nervous system literally is sensitive to environmental signals (it’s like a big antenna).   Psychologist, Gary Klein, tells the story of a team of fire fighters that entered a house where the kitchen was ablaze.  While hosing down the fire, the commander suddenly heard himself yell, “Let’s get out of here!” without knowing why.  The kitchen floor collapsed immediately after– but not before all firefighters escaped.  Only after the experience did the captain recall the impressions that prompted his “sixth sense of danger.” The fire had gotten unusually hot and quiet, and his intuition discerned it.

(3) Non-Local Intuition:  “Everyone has an experience of it,” says McCraty.  “You drive down a road you travel all the time and have the sudden impulse to slow down.  As you round the corner, you see a small child in the street or an accident that just has happened.  In situations like these, the heart senses the nature of events ahead of time, before they actually occur…. This intuition stuff about unknown future events that you cannot explain through implicit learning is nevertheless real.  The central core of every religion on the planet is the heart is our primary access point to wisdom and courage.  Science is now supporting what’s always been believed.”

For many years, the Australian Graduate School Of Entrepreneurship has been studying repeat entrepreneurs, people with long careers who’ve built businesses multiple times with great success.

In looking for common characteristics, the researchers discovered something amazing – and especially useful for business leaders.  80% of the entrepreneurs acknowledged relying on their intuition when making important decisions.  When weighing their options, in other words, they relied on their cognitive capacities and intuitive capacities – heart and mind.

In his recent book, Onward, Starbucks CEO and hugely successful entrepreneur, Howard Schultz, admits to routinely consulting his intuition and to taking frequent action on the guidance it gives him.  Overruling financial analysis that strongly panned both these ideas, Schultz chose to remove a very popular breakfast item from the menu and to close all Starbucks’ stores for three hours of employee training.  Had he relied on his mind alone to guide these actions, he never would have pursued them.   Perhaps not coincidentally, Starbucks’ stock is up 400% over the past decade while the S & P 500 average return is a mere 60%.

As Daniel Kahneman points out in Thinking Fast And Slow, making important decisions tied to intuition alone can prove disastrous.  But what science now has proved is that we have two sources of human intelligence, and letting them both have a say is a very wise move.

When you share these blogs with friends and colleagues via social media, another angel gets its wings.   We invite you to join Mark’s tribe and receive his articles (and other occasional tribe-only gifts) directly each week.

PS:  After this article was posted, all of the social media counters on our website mysteriously reverted to zeros — and all historical share counts were lost.  All links now are working!


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