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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3 Reasons Why We Care So Much About A Bullied Bus Monitor And Why It Matters To Leaders Everywhere

Posted by on Jun 25, 2012 in Current Affairs, Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Wisdom From Other Authors |

Disrespected Buss Monitor Karen Klein

Note: This blog also was published by on June 26, 2012.

“Happiness does not lie in happiness, but in the achievement of it.”
                                                     Fyodor Dostoevsky

Karen Klein, a 68-year-old school bus monitor, was verbally abused and bullied by a group of seventh-grade students a few days ago, and her story quickly has become a sensation across the country.

In a matter of days, 5 million people have viewed a You-Tube video that documents her mistreatment, and television news shows have replayed it for many millions more.

The situation is painful to watch.  An upstate New York grandmother who earns $15,000 per year ensuring student safety is incessantly tormented and derided by several of the kids she works everyday to protect.  The teenagers make extremely cruel remarks, often profanity laced, and insult her long enough to bring Mrs. Klein to tears.  Before it’s over, one boy physically taunts her by poking her in the stomach with a textbook.

Remarkably, Mrs. Klein’s demeaning experience hasn’t just earned our human interest; it’s earned an astonishing outpouring of our money.

A campaign that initially sought to generate enough donations to send the beleaguered widow on a well-deserved vacation has ballooned into an account that’s now quickly approaching $1 million!  Monies sent in support of Mrs. Klein already exceed $650,000 and at least 16,000 people have contributed.

The question of why so many of us care about Mrs. Klein so deeply that we feel compelled to send her supportive cards along with generous checks deserves our attention.

I believe there are three main reasons why we’re all reacting so viscerally to what happened to Mrs. Klein and, essentially, all of them relate to the fact that many of us feel disrespected and under-appreciated for the work we do everyday.   Consciously or unconsciously, we’re projecting our feelings about our own jobs onto the experience of Mrs. Klein.   We’re hurting at work and are suffering Mrs. Klein’s pain as that of our own:

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Why Caring Leaders Will Be Talent Magnets In A Revived Economy

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership |

Employee MagnetSome day people will ask me what is the key to my success…and I will simply say, “good karma.”
                                                              K. Krumley

Just as I was about to get into my car this morning, and to head out to an important meeting, I noticed a big blister bubble on the outside of my front tire.

Without needing a closer look, I immediately could see the tire was primed for a huge and imminent kaboom, and knew I needed to make fast work of finding a replacement.

As life often works once you’ve been dealt an initial setback, more challenges were to come my way. “You have extremely uncommon tires,” I heard at least a dozen different tire store employees tell me after I called to check on pricing and availability. “We won’t be able to get you one of those for at least a week.”

And, because of something called “German engineering,” I also discovered my spare tire would only fit on the rear.

After a few hours of very stressful searching, I finally found my replacement at a Discount Tires store in a town several miles away.  Gratefully, this is where my fate changed, and where I found a team of incredibly happy and productive employees ready to help me.

When Eric picked up the phone, I told him I’d been searching high and low, and had grown panicked over not being able to find a new tire.  Apparently trained to calm down customers like me, Eric immediately assured me he’d search every store in his chain if he didn’t have one in stock.

As I held on the phone while he combed his inventory, Eric suddenly yelled out, “I got it! I got it!”   It was if he’d taken my problem, made it his to solve, and then took enormous joy in making it happen.  He seemed as excited as I was!

Remembering that I had a bubble potentially ready to pop, he next insisted I grab a pencil and write down directions that would ensure I traveled the back roads to his store and not the freeways.  This guy was concerned about my safety!

Upon my arrival, I was greeted with genuine expressions of concern.  Eric and his boss each vocalized their gratitude that I made it there in one piece, and later offered me a discount when I decided to buy two tires instead of one.   This was just an amazing customer experience!

While I was waiting for the tire installation to be completed, Eric’s boss confided that I’d find the exact same service at any store in his chain.  He told me he’d worked as a manager at Discount Tires for over a decade, and insisted employees were developed, rewarded and cared for in ways that made them all enormously loyal and engaged.  I left that store very impressed.

Later that same day, I happened to be chatting with Jay Jamrog, Senior Vice President of Research at the Institute For Corporate Productivity (i4cp), and asked him why my tire-buying experience struck me as being so unusual.   He instantly reminded me of something I already knew.

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Have Workers Become Bored, Or Disheartened?

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in Current Affairs, Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Wisdom From Other Authors |

Disheartened Employee

“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.”
                           Arthur Schopenhauer

Last week, Forbes Magazine published an article titled, “Bored In The Office: Is It The New Productivity Killer?” 

Honestly, when I first saw this headline I thought to myself, “Man, we really do have big problems in leadership if we’re now allowing people to become bored in their jobs.”

But after reading the piece, I realize that Jenna Goudreau, the Forbes staffer who wrote it, actually has identified the symptoms of a very serious issue affecting employee engagement and productivity – I think she’s just poorly diagnosed it.

Just in case you haven’t yet seen or read the article, here’s how Goudreau effectively summarizes the problem of employee boredom:

  • When people get bored they become disengaged.
  • Workplace boredom can strike anyone from low-level service workers to well-paid corporate executives.  According to Arizona State University professor, Angelo Kinicki, “most often it stems from the inability to find meaning in their jobs and too little variety in their daily tasks.  It’s the [job] repetitiveness that’s the culprit.”
  • Kinicki says employees become demotivated and uninspired when they don’t have much control over their jobs or input on important decisions, are not getting enough feedback or positive recognition to feel competent in their work, and don’t feel like they are developing or making progress towards something important.
  • Boredom may be commonly understood as not having enough to do, but it’s really about not being challenged enough.  When employees aren’t being challenged and developed, they inevitably disengage or exit.
  • And the boredom problem is serious.  According to research by consulting firm, Gallup, 71% of American workers today are either not engaged or are actively disengaged from their jobs.
  • Boredom, therefore, is quite expensive to employers who likely will lose valuable contributions, and talent, in the long run.

To the credit of my subconscious mind, which apparently gave this article more thought during my sleeping hours, I woke up this morning with an epiphany.  

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How To Win Your Boss’s Admiration, Right After A Blown Assignment

Posted by on Jun 4, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons |

Manager Confronting Performance ProblemsThere is something in humility which strangely exalts the heart.
                                         Saint Augustine

A good friend of mine, Colin, recently participated in a workshop facilitated by an outside consultant.

The impromptu session was scheduled with great urgency.  Colin’s firm suddenly lost several big accounts and was concerned more defections were possible.  Consequently, Colin’s boss decided it had become crucial to have four of his key executives professionally coached on client retention strategies.

Colin and the other three managers learned about the clinic just two days before it was scheduled.  Each received a packet of information that included a pre-work assignment.

Colin specifically learned that he and a colleague, Erin, would be making a joint presentation.  Using data they were given about a fictitious client relationship, their job was to persuade a group of key decision makers (i.e. the consultant, Colin’s manager and his boss), to renew their relationship with the firm.

Colin and Erin had given many client presentations before, but nevertheless, chose to take the task very seriously.   Understanding the importance of the training to their boss and to their organization, they pushed other work aside, set up meetings to plan out their roles, and then spent several hours rehearsing.

Going first, before two other managers were to present, Colin and Erin built a compelling and elegant case.  They easily persuaded the mock clients to stay put.  Seeing how well they complimented each other as they spoke, and noting how thoroughly prepared they both were, the consultant immediately decreed the firm was in great hands any time these two were on the hot seat with an “at-risk” relationship.

Things didn’t go quite as well for the next pair to speak, Anthony and Elaine.

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