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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Four Magnificent Leadership Practices Of The Dalai Lama

Posted by on Apr 30, 2012 in Wisdom From Other Authors |

The Dalai Lama Wearing A UCSD VisorHis Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, spoke at my alma mater, the University of California, San Diego last week, and it was an honor and great privilege for me to attend.

Noting that the Dalai Lama is one of our world’s most influential leaders (albeit spiritual and not in business), I paid particular attention to his word choice, the beliefs he expressed and, most especially, to his actions.  My hope was that I would observe some compelling and unique leadership practices that I could later pass on to you.

As you might imagine, the Buddhist monk and 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner, did not disappoint.

The Dalai Lama came to UCSD specifically to speak about global climate change and was joined on stage by two of the world’s foremost subject experts, Dr. V. Ramanathan and Dr. Richard Somerville.

Both scientists are distinguished professors at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  Ramanathan discovered the “Greenhouse Effect” three decades ago, and Somerville was the lead author of a climate change paper that shared the 2007 Nobel Prize equally with former Vice President, Al Gore.

Before the Dalai Lama spoke a single word, each researcher took a few minutes to summarize what’s now known about the effects of coal and fossil fuel burning.  We learned that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gasses are indeed warming the earth’s temperatures, raising sea levels and melting glaciers (80% of the Himalayan icecaps are now gone).  Both experts were emphatic that action is needed now and, within twenty years, the effects of man-made pollution will be irreversible if left unaddressed.

Noting that half of Americans remain unconvinced that this problem is real, Dr. Somerville concluded, “Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but not when it comes to the facts.”

With this as a background, let me now share four of the most impressive things the Dalai Lama did to powerfully influence his audience and demonstrate his mastery of interpersonal leadership. 

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We Scale Mountains For Generous Leaders

Posted by on Apr 23, 2012 in Wisdom From Other Authors |

Giving Leads To Receiving“For it is in giving that we receive.”
                                        St. Francis of Assisi

Since my book was published last fall, a lot of people have done some incredibly kind and thoughtful things to help me.  What’s intriguing about this support is that it hasn’t only come from my friends and former colleagues.

Via Twitter, people I’ve never met, and who live all over the world, have written to tell me (in 140 characters or less) how they’re advocating for the book in their organizations.  Following a radio interview I did, the host offered to introduce me to several famous leadership authors he knows.  Another person e-mailed all of his business contacts and urged them to start reading my blog.  And this is a very small sampling of what many people have chosen to do for me.

While I have no clear explanation as to what has motivated all this generosity, I can tell you how it’s affected me.  When people take actions that help me, I always notice.  More importantly, I find myself thinking of the person (including all those people in my Twitterverse) and wanting to re-pay them in some way.  I’m not at all unique in my response; our wanting to reward kindness with kindness is universal.

I’ve come across two unique explanations for why giving leads to receiving.  One is practical and the other spiritual.

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21st Century Leadership Advice From The Amish

Posted by on Apr 16, 2012 in Wisdom From Other Authors |

Pruning Sheers“Better to be pruned to grow then cut up to burn.”
                                                              John Trapp

Following their harvest of apples and pears every year, Amish farmers take on the chore of pruning all the orchards.

The Amish long ago discovered that trimming limbs, and removing the dead wood, has a powerful and regenerative effect.  Sufficient pruning stimulates new growth ensuring next season’s crop is both bountiful and flavorful.

But nature makes a grower pay a steep price when branches are sheared too severely.  Trees take longer to recover and fruit yields are substantially reduced.  Consequently, a fear of over-cutting makes pruning ones’ own groves a particularly tenuous and even painful task.

The Amish, however, found a brilliant solution to this dilemma, one that reveals a keen understanding of human nature.  They discovered it was much easier for them to pare-down someone else’s trees rather than their own.

On a designated day at the onset of winter, all the farmers meet, shake hands, and then set off to independently perform a neighbor’s trimming.  At dusk, the men return to the town square to express their mutual appreciation.  Each returns home certain they were more the beneficiary than the benefactor in the exchange.

I love this Amish practice as an inspiring example of what can be accomplished through true cooperation and trust.  The community has been able to thrive for centuries because of this simple yet remarkable arrangement.

But buried inside this little gem is also an invaluable insight: We’re often able to advise and help others in ways we’re far less capable of doing for ourselves. 

This wisdom is particularly helpful to anyone who seeks to grow increasingly more effective, and fruitful, as a leader.

After I completed writing the first chapter of my book, I shared it with my best friend in hopes of gaining his validation.  Therefore, it was thrilling and heartening when he later told me the quality of the writing was as good as anything he’d ever read professionally.  After congratulating me, he urged me to move on to write the next chapter.

I worked especially long and hard on that next installment and gave it to my friend weeks later in the belief it was as good as, if not better, than the work he had seen before.  And so it came as a real disappointment, and a surprise, when he told me my newest submission was unclear and needed re-writing.  He’ll refute this, but I remember him calling that work “ a mess.”  He most certainly told me that I could do much better.

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Your Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own

Posted by on Apr 9, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons, Wisdom From Other Authors |

We have two brains: heart and mindIt is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what’s is essential is invisible to the eye.”
                                                 Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Many years ago, I spent the day with the CEO of the bank where I worked, and asked him to give me his best piece of leadership advice.

His response came quickly.  “When it comes to managing people,” he told me, “make decisions with your head, and implement them with your heart.”

I remember being impressed by this.  It seemed very thoughtful and even enlightened.  Yet the core of his message was that business decisions must always be made by our minds, alone – an extremely common belief then as it remains today.

Thanks to recent scientific research, however, we now know that the heart is not just a beating organ, it’s a thinking one.  And, just like having another person in the room to provide a second opinion, the heart offers unique insights.  Hearts have a mind of their own.

Tied to this new understanding, we’re well advised to ask our hearts to weigh in on decisions and to render their assessments – before any implementation commences.  But how many of us in business ever make this consultation?  Don’t we all really believe the heart’s voice must be tuned out – that whatever it has to say will misguide us?

Here’s a story I hope will influence you to more consistently consult your heart when making important decisions and to trust what it’s telling you.

In his classic book, Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini, describes an interaction he had with a person who showed up at his house one warm summer evening and rang his doorbell:

I answered my door “to find a stunning young woman dressed in shorts and a revealing halter top.  I noticed, nonetheless, that she was carrying a clipboard and was asking me to participate in a survey.  Wanting to make a favorable impression, I agreed….”

Cialdini doesn’t explain why he felt compelled to make a good impression on his solicitor, yet we can certainly imagine him sucking in his middle-age gut as he welcomed her into his house.

“I’m doing a survey on the entertainment habits of people and am hoping you can answer a few questions for me,” she began.   “Can you tell me how many nights a week you go out to dinner on average?”

At his ego’s direction, apparently, Cialdini assumed the identity of a continental, a man-about-town who enjoys all the finer things in life.  “I love restaurants,” he crowed.  “I eat out three or four times a week.”

“How nice,” she said.  “And do you usually order wine with your dinner?”

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Act Swiftly On Performance Problems

Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 in Heart Leadership In Practice, Leadership, Life Lessons |

Snowball Fight

Procrastination is the enemy of the leader….

When I was ten-years-old, I became a paperboy.

Six days a week – all year long – my responsibility was to get people their papers at the same general time each day and, once a week, to knock on doors and collect my pay.

Here’s a quick story of one experience I had along my route that taught me an invaluable lesson about life – and leadership.

A day after over a foot of snow had fallen, I bundled up in warm clothing and trudged through the streets carrying all my papers.  It was impossibly cold out and I was weary from the task before I’d made it to half of my houses.

As I reached the long walkway of my last customer’s home, I felt a sense of exhilaration knowing I was a responsible kid who kept his commitments in brutal weather.

But just after delivering the paper, two boys who lived there came out from behind a tree and pelted me with a stream of snowballs.  Completely caught off guard, I was hit in the face and in the back – and these kids were unrelenting!

While unaccustomed to surprise attacks like this, I knew what to do whenever someone threw a snowball at me.  Fight back!

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