Mark C. Crowley

Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century

What people feel in the 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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The Profound Lesson Plants Teach Us About Leading People

Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Wisdom From Other Authors |

PlantingTreesI’ve come to trust that books show up in my life for a reason.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in a bookstore when some internal radar system seemed to guide me down the aisles until a knowing voice insisted that I “buy that one.”   The great mystery of this process is that the books I’ve ended up with have always proved to be transformational in some way.

But a few weeks ago, I thought my inner guidance had gone on the fritz.  I was staring at a book called, “What A Plant Knows: A Field Guide To The Senses” and thought for certain it couldn’t be meant for me.

But the “voice” had a way of persuading me that it was.  It seemed to be fully aware that I was no botanist, had taken “Biology For Non-majors” in college, and specifically came into Barnes and Noble to find something leadership related.

Yet just as all other times in the past, I quickly discovered I’d ended up with the right book at the right time.  And long before I’d read the final pages, it became quite clear that a profound lesson on leadership was indeed embedded in its pages.

Here’s a summary of what I learned.

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Uniting Spirituality And Leadership For The Sake Of Employee Engagement

Posted by on Apr 4, 2013 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Wisdom From Other Authors |

The Human HeartThe word spiritual, not the word religious, is the key.”

                                                      Clarence Clemons

One of my son’s closest friends started following me on Twitter recently, and after reading my tweets for a couple of weeks, sent along an e-mail summarizing his initial observations:

“Your dad is like a Twitter God.  He’s practically a leadership religious leader or something!

Admittedly, when I read the e-mail myself, I thought it was pretty cool that anyone would perceive me as being a “Twitter God!”  But it was the “religious leader” part of the comment that held my attention the longest.  Honestly, I’ve never sought to be seen as a “religious” leader, nor do I have any of the requisite background that would qualify me to be one.

Anyone familiar with my work knows that I’m a recent author, but that I also spent two-plus decades as a senior-level executive in the financial services industry.  I’m a business leader, people!  “How is it possible that anyone could think otherwise?”

Well, it turns out I may be sending mixed messages.  Tweets I send routinely use words like “compassion,” “kindness” and “empathy.”  My book is even called “Lead From The Heart!  I have to admit, to a first time tweet reader, I probably sound more like the Dalai Lama than any well-known Fortune 500 CEO.

But I’m not going soft with these tweets, I can assure you.  What I’ve discovered is that many words traditionally heard in a spiritual context are characteristics of the most successful and influential business leaders today.  You simply can no longer be effective in motivating human beings in any workplace if you lack qualities like thoughtfulness, generosity and sincerity.

We know today that a huge percentage of the American workforce is distressed beyond imagination about their jobs, bosses and organizations.  Revealing just how badly people are being managed and led, one new study showed that at 42% of US companies, the best employees are the least engaged.  This means that in 4 of every 10 organizations, leaders have essentially lost the support of every worker.

A big part of the reason so many people have grown so disconsolate in their jobs, is because they too often feel undervalued and unappreciated.  “No one cares about me or what I contribute here,” summarizes much of distress.  What I know to be true is that the human need to feel significant, and to know one’s work matters, are both deeply spiritual.  And the wisest leaders in business today not only know this, they demonstrate through their presence that people are unequivocally essential to the success of their organization.

My main thesis is that feelings and emotions drive human performance and, therefore, leaders who make people feel – in their core – that their organization would be fully deficient were they not there, will be the big winners in the 21st Century.

Here are three “spiritual” ways you as a leader can ensure employees feel this highly valued:

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Are You Prepared To Lead When Disaster Comes?

Posted by on Sep 23, 2012 in Leadership, Life Lessons |

Blowing Dry Flood Damage“It’s not how well you perform in your summers that will define your success in life, it’s how well you do in your winters.”
                                                      Jim Roan

Around 9:00 P.M. on Labor Day night, I headed back to my bedroom with a plan of doing a little reading before going to bed.

As I walked down the long hall, I had no idea that two-to-three hours earlier a connection had burst behind the bathroom toilet and hundreds of gallons of water already had gushed into the back half of the house.

Honestly, the sight of water pouring out of the pipe – imagine the pressure of a wide-open fire hydrant – was instantly stunning.

By this time of night, I already had grown tired; but my sudden change of fate required my sharpest attention and decision making.  At first, I felt entirely overwhelmed.

There’s a knob on the back of most toilets that serves to shut off the water in an emergency.  But once I’d turned it completely, the water continued its ferocious surge.   Greatly alarmed by this, as fast as I could, I ran outside to the front of the house, found the shut-off lever, and ended the flow.

Somehow during all this initial chaos, a thought crossed my mind that I was being tested.  Honestly, a voice inside of me was challenging me: “What’s the best possible way for me to respond to this crisis and leverage all I have learned about life and leadership?”   I’m not kidding.  And also quite truthfully, what that voice had to say was inspiring to me.   With water rapidly seeping through walls, putting antiques and other prized possessions at risk, I found myself determined to respond swiftly and maturely, and to achieve the best possible outcome.

I’d like to share some of the key steps that we followed with the hope they can help you when life’s inevitable disaster comes your way.   Just sixteen days after the pipe burst, our house was fully dried; walls were removed and replaced, and virtually the entire house re-carpeted and re-painted.   That voice in my head played a huge role in getting the crisis resolved.

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Help Another To The Top Of The Mountain And You Arrive There Too.

Posted by on Sep 3, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Wisdom From Other Authors |

Giving A Hand To Someone Climbing Up A Mountain

“When you have a wit of your own, it’s a pleasure to credit other people for theirs.”
                                                Criss Jami

Very recently, I learned that content from my book had been plagiarized.

In a blog ironically titled, Lead From The Heart, a well-known leadership consultant in the Twittersphere – someone with a very large following – liberally and literally cited my work.  The only problem was that the ideas weren’t attributed to me.

I’ll be honest; it felt like a punch in the gut to see original concepts and expressions I worked several years to produce be purloined by a peer.  As you might imagine, I was immediately filled with anger and I also had enormous feelings of disbelief.

Via back-and-forth e-mailing, the blogger quickly agreed to remove the post.   While I was very grateful for this action, I requested that the piece be revised so that my work could be properly credited.  I wasn’t seeking a mea culpa or any kind of public shaming.  But noting that the blog already had been sent out to hundreds of thousands of people, I felt it fair that the wrong be made right.  Because enough time now has gone by, however, it now seems entirely unlikely my request will be fulfilled.

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks on vacation where I had lots of time to think about this.  The big question I kept asking myself was, “Why would someone in a leadership role be so reluctant to give credit to someone else, especially when the ideas were inherently supportive of her own?”

I think I have a big part of the answer and it offers great insight to anyone who aspires to becoming a truly exceptional leader.

Poverty Consciousness

As I wrote in my book, it’s been my experience throughout my twenty-five-year career that too many leaders “go to work every day fearing for their jobs and influenced to neglect or even disregard the needs of others.  It’s an underlying type of energy and rhetoric that pervades a lot of companies and influences leaders to compete – and not to support the success of the very people they lead.  In it’s worst manifestation, these leaders become cut-throat and entirely self-serving because they have a feeling of lack that says, ‘I have to be this way to survive.’  At the root of this fear is the pervasive belief that we live in world where everything is limited – a world where if another person’s light grows brighter, theirs must naturally and equivalently grow dimmer.  It’s a feeling of scarcity – an entrenched conviction that there is never enough to go around – and it leads people to concluding, ‘Every man for himself.’”

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Drill Sergeants With Heart? How The Military Is Reinventing Its Leadership For The 21st Century

Posted by on Jul 22, 2012 in Current Affairs, Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership |

Fear Inducing Drill SergeantIf I asked you to conjure up an image of an Army (or Navy, Marine Corp, etc.) Drill Sergeant, I’m almost certain what you conceived would match up pretty closely to the photograph on the right.

For generations, Drill Sergeants have been characterized by the intensity of their yelling, screaming, and fear inducing barking of orders.  Quick to both scold and harshly punish, that guy in the photo is no cliché.

With our minds in agreement on how Drill Sergeants have historically sought to train, motivate and even inspire their young recruits, I’d like to now tell you that things have greatly changed in the military.   Out go the feral tyrants; in come leaders with heart.  I’m deadly serious.

It was announced this past week that Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Heilman was named Drill Sergeant of the Year.  Out of 5,400 Drill Sergeants in the active duty ranks and Army Reserves, Heilman was intensely evaluated by the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command before being chosen.   Here are some highlights of the process:

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