Mark C. Crowley

Transformative Leadership for the 21st Century

If you're focusing on EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
you're aiming WAY TOO LOW!
“Shift your focus to what really matters to your organization:
employee commitment, initiative, and sustainable high performance.”
– Mark C. Crowley
MARK C. CROWLEY
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Five Things Leaders Should Do In December To Ensure Success In The New Year

Posted by on Dec 14, 2016 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons |

The Month Of December “Fortune favors the bold.”
Virgil (70-19 BC)

There’s a great tendency in the month of December to wind things down.

With the holiday season upon us, and the least amount of sunlight of the year around to energize us, we’re influenced to work in slow motion.  We feel like resting, and to acting upon a conscious or unconscious mindset that tells us things will rev up soon enough – when the new-year arrives on January 1.

But it’s long been my experience that the most successful leaders have an altered state of awareness about December. They see the month as the true start of the new-year, and purposely work very hard to lay the foundation for high achievement way before Auld Lang Syne gets sung. For these highly effective people, the last month of the year is all about winding things up.

If your ambition is to lead your team to spectacular performance in 2017, here are five things you’ll be very wise to accomplish in December:

1.    Share Your Vision
Ideally in person, but alternatively through a well-crafted and thoughtful written communication, use December to inspire your team.  The wonderful effect of sharing your dreams for the coming year – all you’d like to achieve and become – is that it gets the juices flowing in the minds and hearts of every person who works for you.  Weeks before the new-year starts for real, your employees can give thought to how their efforts fit into your aspirations.  And once you plant the seed, they will begin to prepare themselves for the coming challenges.  One word of guidance: make sure to acknowledge all your team did to support you this year, before you re-direct your focus to the year ahead.

2.    Meet One-On-One With All Your Direct Reports
December is a wonderful month to check in with people and to personalize the new-year ahead by discovering new ambitions.  Knowing that the greatest reason people burn out at work is because their jobs lack sufficient variety, ask your employees if there’s a special project they’d like to be involved in.  Is there a cross-training or growth opportunity that inspires them?  The road to high engagement is making people feel valued and cared for.  That’s your essential goal for these meetings.

3.    Assign Next Year’s Goals
The funny thing about goals is that they are almost always higher than those assigned the year before.  We laugh at this, of course, but new and bigger goals very often have the effect of stressing people out and putting them into a disempowered state of fear.  So, one solution is to introduce goals long before they go into effect.  The extra time allows people to get their heads around the higher expectations.  I’ve also found it extremely helpful to ask employees to prepare a high-level plan for how they will go about achieving those new goals.  The exercise typically reveals to people that the mountain isn’t as high as they first imagined.  By the time they submit their plan to you, they know how they’ll reach the summit.

4.    Build A Pipeline
Few things are more exciting for a leader and their team than to have a highly productive month of performance in January (especially important in sales).  Come early February, it simply feels great to know you’ve gotten off to a phenomenal start in the new-year and to have established early momentum.  The best way to ensure this happens is to stack the deck in your favor.   Whatever you traditionally do to drive results, do more of it in December.  Challenge each employee to double down his or her efforts, and to build a pipeline of work that can come to fruition in January.  Yes, your team will work harder in December, but the rewards will be worth it.

5.    Get Organized And Reflect
I love the last two of weeks of December, and have made a habit of using them to get myself organized and emotionally prepared for the coming year.  I clean out files, organize my office, and spend time planning. Like chopping wood and carrying water, there’s an unseen but really powerful reward for doing the mundane and preparing yourself for a brand new start.

While not always possible, I also love taking off the last week of the year and hiking in nature, going for walks – having thinking time.  Late December is an ideal period for personal reflection and for becoming fully re-inspired about the future.  Every year around this time I’m inspired by C. S. Lewis who said, “you are never too old to set another goal and to dream a new dream.”

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What My Near-Death Experience Taught Me About Life And Leadership

Posted by on Dec 14, 2016 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons, Wisdom From Other Authors | 0 comments

aaeaaqaaaaaaaacaaaaajgzhyzdhogrjltriywitngjioc1izdezlwjlnjrizwfjngnkmwEarly one morning just a few weeks ago, I woke up with the intention of starting my day at the gym.  But before I ever made it out of the house, I completely blacked out, fell on a cold travertine floor and broke my ribs.

The pain from that fall was excruciating; and it immediately restored me to consciousness.  But the sheer terror of the moment instantly grew worse; I thought I was suffocating.

Hearing my moans, my wife found me splayed on the ground and largely incoherent.  Stunned and petrified, she kept asking me what had happened. But by this point, indescribable fear had set in, and all I could do was cry the words, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe!”

Despite my grave condition, I resisted my wife’s pleas to call an ambulance.  In disbelief over my characteristic male stubbornness, she figured out a way to get me in the car and transported to the emergency room at Scripps Clinic, La Jolla. And this is when a team of brilliant doctors and nurses mobilized with the purpose of saving my life.

I could immediately see in my doctor’s face that he was highly alarmed by my condition.  Consistently – as he hurriedly worked to check my vital signs and make a diagnosis – he took time to scold me for not calling 911.

Even in my diminished state, it was obvious to me that every nurse on this triage team had a unique role to play.  As if I was watching a movie of someone else’s experience and not my own, I marveled at how brilliantly orchestrated everything was.

But a sobering reality instantly set in when my doctor told me he was rushing me into the operating room and that I’d be going under anesthesia.  It was at this moment that a nurse called my name.  Looking me straight in the eye, she pierced me with the words, “You’re going to be alright, Mark.  We’re all going to make sure of it.”

Hours later, when I came out of sedation, I learned that my left lung had collapsed in the fall, and that my heart had endured tremendous stress.  But far more disconcerting to my doctors was their discovery of a “pulmonary embolism,” a blood clot in my lungs similar to the one that recently took the life of PBS radio anchor, Craig Windham.

When I was told I was being moved into the Intensive Care Unit, only then did I fully acknowledge that my life was indeed in great danger.  I found out later that it was at this same time when nurses asked my wife if I had signed a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order.

But here’s the truth.  From that moment on, I never really feared for my life.  And it wasn’t because I was inordinately brave – or even exceptionally delusional.  My conviction that I’d fully recover had everything to do with how my doctors and nurses treated me – how they made me feel.

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These 5 Books Predict The Future Of Workplace Leadership

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Wisdom From Other Authors | 0 comments

Boos Stack“The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

 – William Gibson

A close friend and former colleague of mine recently advised me to “go easy” on my use of the expression “lead from the heart.”  Fully aware that I’d written a book with that title, he nevertheless sought to warn me that many people in business continue to believe this is a particularly weak idea.

My friend was, of course, looking out for my best interests, and the truth is, I knew he was right.  I’ve met with with many senior executives who gave me their polite attention – but conveyed through invisible signals their deep resistance to bringing any amount of heart into workplace management.

You see, for as long as most of us have been alive, business has believed it best to lead with our minds – and never the heart.

But I’ve just finished reading five new books that collectively prove our views of leadership are undergoing a profound change.

Insight from a Stanford University professor, the all-time winningest NBA coach, two geniuses of innovation and design, a Pulitzer Prize recipient and best-selling author – and one of Wall Street’s most respected CEOs – all provide a clear view of the future.  What they unequivocally show is that the way to excel in managing human beings in the 21st Century requires breaking away from traditional beliefs.

Drawing upon extraordinary personal success in addition to unimpeachable new research, they prove that authentically caring about the growth and well-being of workers – and ensuring they’re consistently made to feel heard, valued, supported and appreciated – already have become the truly differentiated practices of our best leaders.  The bottom-line conclusion from this collection of thought: having a great mind alone no longer can make you an effective leader; you also need an active and engaged heart:

MINDSET: THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS/CAROL DWECK

The traditional view in business is that people are born with a fixed amount of intelligence and talent; individual capabilities are firmly set in stone.

This idea, what Stanford University professor, Carol Dweck, calls a “fixed mindset,” influences workplace managers to leverage employees who quickly display natural ability – and to invest little time and resources seeking to develop all the others.

Benjamin Bloom, eminent educational researcher, studied 120 outstanding achievers in numerous fields – world-class athletes, mathematicians, concert pianists, et al – and discovered few of them were remarkable as children. They only revealed their capabilities once their training began in earnest.

Predicated on this and other remarkable research, Dweck blows up the long-enduring paradigm of human limitation.  She proves that a person’s potential is “unknown and unknowable.”  Regardless of talent, aptitude and IQ – people can greatly expand their abilities through effort, thoughtful coaching, and experience.

Dweck’s work represents a hugely expansive idea in business.  She shows that leaders who possess a fixed mindset greatly limit employee (and, therefore, organizational) performance.  Alternatively, when managers foster a “growth mindset,” they intentionally challenge, mentor, and nurture the development of their people knowing their future contributions will expand as they sprout new competencies.

ELEVEN RINGS/PHIL JACKSON

Widely considered the greatest coach in NBA history, Phil Jackson won a record 11 championships – 6 with the Chicago Bulls and 5 with the Los Angeles Lakers – and led his teams to victory in over 70% of the games they played.

Jackson was a standout college player, and won two “rings” as a player with the New York Knicks.  But once he was given his own teams to lead, he broke all the traditions of coaching professional athletes.

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Why Your Personal Influence Is Far Greater Than You Ever Knew

Posted by on Feb 8, 2014 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Wisdom From Other Authors | 0 comments

images“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.

Albert Schweitzer


Introduction:

Through a series of fascinating studies, Harvard-trained social scientists, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, have shown that human beings are profoundly influenced by the behavior of the people closest to them in their lives.

When we learn a colleague has voted, for example, we’re far more likely to vote ourselves.  When someone in our social circle quits smoking, eats too much in a restaurant, or is characteristically studious, we’re unconsciously persuaded to copy those same behaviors.

While the research proves something we may long ago have intuitively surmised – that we directly influence our friends and they influence us – Christakis and Fowler discovered that the true nature of that impact is far greater – and wider – than any of us may have imagined.

What you’re about to learn is groundbreaking information (not to mention incredibly interesting).  But it’s very possible that your behavior as a leader will be permanently and positively changed once you discover the full power of your own personal example.

Human Behavior Is Wildly Contagious

In what’s perhaps their most revealing study on influence, the two researchers sought to determine whether having an obese friend made people any more susceptible to becoming obese themselves.

To get their answer, Christakis and Fowler directed a team that painstakingly analyzed three decades of data collected from the famous, and still ongoing, Framingham Heart Study.  Dating back more than 50 years, 15,000 study participants – the residents of Framingham, Massachusetts – have visited their doctors every four years to have their key health indicators, including their weight, measured and recorded.  And before every check-up was finished, participants updated their list of family members, co-workers and friends.

By the time all the analysis was completed, the research team identified how 5,124 of the Framingham residents were connected, and linked them to over 50,000 friends, family and co-workers.

The study results were then published in the New York Times.  In a front-page article titled, “Are Your Friends Making You Fat?” the paper reported that the behavior of loading on pounds is highly contagious:

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Three Stunning Leadership Trends That Should Give Hope To Workers Everywhere

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Current Affairs, Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons, Wisdom From Other Authors | 1 comment

Heart & Mind“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

 – Yogi Berra

Directly or indirectly, the common theme expressed in everything I write is that our traditional ways of leading people in the workplace are failing.

We’ve seen employee engagement fall precipitously over a generation, and now have irrefutable evidence that it cannot and will not recover until we collectively adopt leadership practices that intentionally support the higher needs of workers – human beings.

My goal for each new article has been to further explain why leadership must change, and how some enlightened organizations and visionaries already are contributing to the creation of an entirely new, and far more effective model.

As we approach the New Year, I see it filled with promise.  It’s clear that our collective view on how best to inspire employee performance is fundamentally and irrevocably shifting.  What’s stunning to me is that it’s happening so fast.

To give you a new glimpse into the future of leadership, I want to share three profound trends that are building wave-like momentum in business.  A major transformation is underway and it’s largely being influenced by some noteworthy reversals in our thinking.

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