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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The Profound Lesson Cows Can Teach Us About Leading People

Posted by on Jan 6, 2013 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons |

Brown CowAfter working out this morning at my gym, I walked into the locker room and overheard one of my friends, Joe, tell another exerciser that he’d grown up on a dairy farm.

Instinctively recalling a New York Times article that reported, “Cows, when given names, produce six percent more milk,” I inserted myself into the conversation and asked Joe if he’d been inclined to name all his cows.

“Yes, I was!” said the seventy-five-year-old urologist.  “As a kid, I had a name for all the animals on the farm, and I tried to make friends with each and every one of them.”

“But my dad had a different opinion on that,” Joe said in an immediate change of tone.  “He attempted at a very early age to teach me to avoid making emotional connections like that with our animals.  One night, he took my pet rabbit, Freddy, and insisted my mother cook it for dinner.  Sitting at the dinner table, I had tears coming down my face as my father insisted how delicious Freddy tasted.”

This brief interchange was startling to me, of course, and it ended as quickly as Joe packed his gear and headed home.  But there was no question in my mind that Joe’s sudden recollection was nearly as painful today as it had been sixty years ago when the experience originally occurred.

While this story is indeed horrifying – and who today wouldn’t judge Joe’s dad as having been an extremely cruel and careless parent? – the lesson he very purposely sought to instill in his young son is much the same as we’ve all long been taught:  Keep your heart out of business.

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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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Seize Opportunities To Demonstrate You Care

Posted by on Oct 7, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons |

Magnetic ResonanceA few years ago, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  While all on it’s own the experience was the most terrifying of my life, the people who were supposed to care about me really didn’t.

Doctors, no less, made the circumstances far worse than they needed to be, and ignored how their indifference could have a rippling and discomforting effect on my entire family.

There will be moments in your life as a leader when your employees will need your thoughtfulness, your generosity – your humanity.   They’ll need you, as their boss, to drop your guard, display your heart, and show people how much they matter.  Blow this with any one person who works for you and you will lose their full engagement forever.

I went to see my “primary” doctor after having fluid remain in one ear for over a week.  I’d had this problem at other times in my life and had come to believe it was a chronic condition.  My doctor seemed to believe the same thing, but nonetheless sent me to a specialist just to be certain.

With water still clogging my one ear, I underwent a hearing test.  Not surprisingly, I heard very few of the repeated beats of varying decibels in the affected ear.  While distressing, it seemed logical to me that sound would be greatly muffled by the fluid, and I successfully raised my hand every time tones were sent to my other ear.

The clinician who administered the exam was unable to reveal the exam results and told me my new doctor would review them with me.  Her secrecy had me on edge, but I was fully unprepared for what came next.

The eye-ear-nose-throat expert was no rapport builder.  With his eyes perusing my report, and after barely saying hello, he asked me a series of rapid-fire questions.  “Was your head ever injured in an accident?  Have you begun having serious headaches?  Have you ever been exposed to a gun shot?”

Even though I answered “no” to all of his leading questions, my doctor with the off-putting bedside manner cut to the chase.  “I’ll need to run more tests, but I’m quite certain you have a brain tumor.”  Very directly, and without any display of concern for my feelings, he told me the Latin name for it, explained that I likely would need brain surgery to remove it, and advised me to go home and “look it up on the internet.”

I walked out of that hospital like a zombie and called my wife just as I was pulling out of the parking lot.  “He said I have a brain tumor; can you look up my condition and tell me what it says?”

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