Lead From The Heart | Book Review

The studies prove that our traditional leadership model has reached the end of its effectiveness. Workers across the country have grown widely disengaged and disheartened, and American productivity is being greatly undermined as a result (p.11).

Mark Crowley courageously explores root causes of obviously outdated leadership models, with convincing demographic research and proposes we rethink and reapply ourselves. His journey transcends science leading to our physical hearts, not just as a source of emotional connection, but as a unifying energy source. Crowley offers a four-part antidote we should all wisely incorporate within our Personal Leadership Philosophy.

Our Toxic Leadership Environment

Alex Edmans, Wharton Finance Professor, finds contemporary leaders still attempt to (p. 1) "squeeze as much out of [employees] as possible and pay them as little as possible." reminiscent of Winslow Taylor's (see Team of Teams) legacy of treating employees as subhuman machinery parts to be utilized for maximum efficiency. Crowley realized our worst mistake is that we compromise our foundational and fundamental values ... believing efficiency alone will make our enterprises more productive and profitable (p. 52).

Crowley references Maslow (pp. 1-2) noting that with our basic needs mostly satisfied via our careers, higher level needs for things like respect, recognition and even fulfillment in the workplace have become much more important (p. 3), hinting at affinity with Herzberg's Motivator-Hygiene theory. Or, put another way, what's really happened is that people have ascended in their needs and have landed on work as the place to fulfill them (p. 4).

Professor Ioannis Theodossiou, University of Aberdeen agrees:  "I suppose that if one spends roughly two-thirds of his or her life at work, satisfaction with life will be heavily dependent upon job satisfaction." Patricia Aburdene, in Megatrends 2010, goes further, predicting "The Power of Spirituality" will be the greatest megatrend of our current era (p. 8).

What does that mean for us as leaders? These findings place a premium on knowing instinctive needs (within our Energize2Lead Profile), of ourselves, and especially of those we serve.

Crowley references the Conference Board of New York's survey from 1987 to 2009, citing an alarming twenty-two consecutive years of declines in worker happiness (p. 11). It is clear the "employment deal" -- or what may also be called a social contract -- [requires] emotional connections gained through things like fairness, career development and seeing how their work fits into the bigger picture of the organization (p. 13). How much does our leadership philosophy address these factors - or engagement?

Engagement is more complex. It takes into consideration these same cognitive connections that people have with their jobs in addition to two other components: Emotional attachments to work, and behavioral responses to those attachments (p. 17). Crowley finds just four "drivers" explain 67% of the overall movement of employee engagement: Organizational Health, Managerial Quality, Extrinsic Rewards and Workplace Readiness and that these results are consistent across the world (p. 21).

John Gibbons (Conference Board) summarizes (p. 24): "It's critical that they know they are part of something bigger than themselves." It's a form of love, reminding us of Joel Manby's Love Works and agape love. Companies are [now] proving the effects of a much more sustainable and effective leadership model. A model which ensures all constituencies win and that creates prosperity, in the grandest sense, for all (p. 35).

Crowley goes deep in Chapter 4, Engagement is a Decision of the Heart, the soul of this book. Gary Zukav, author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters, frames the root cause: Religion has become a matter of the heart and science has become a matter of the mind (p. 55). Dr. Mimi Guarneri challenges this distinction in The Heart Speaks: A Cardiologist Reveals The Secret of Healing, concluding what people feel in their hearts has tremendous influence over their motivation and performance in the workplace. The human heart is the driving force of human achievement (p. 41). To Dr. Paul Pearsall the brain makes us individualistic -- focused on our own achievements -- while the heart needs interrelationship and connection (p. 42). Dr. Pearsall indicates the heart has the amazing ability of accurately detecting the nature of energy coming from another's heart and people cannot be fooled by false or unsupportive intentions (p. 48). Similarly, Bruce Creyer, co-founder of the Institute of HeartMath, shares we have learned that the heart is creating an energetic field & science is coming around to validate this (p. 54).

The Leadership Antitoxins

Crowley's prescribes four antitoxins (p. 60) for our downward leadership spiral: 


Hire People with Heart
Heart to Heart
Empower the Heart
Inspire the Heart


Leadership Application

Build a Highly Engaged Team
Connect On A Personal Level
Maximize Employee Potential
Value and Honor Achievements


Academy Leadership's Energize2Lead, Feedback, Motivation and Coaching workshops correlate to each of these antidotes, respectively.

For practical application, Crowley offers eight steps in hiring (pp. 66-75):

• Define and Be Absolutely Clear On What Talent You Need
• Always Seek To Improve the Strength and Talent on Your Team
• Look For Evidence of Ambition and Winning Ways
• Interview With Purpose
• Involve Your Team In The Selection Process
• Obtain Job Samples
• Before You Make an Offer, Give Finalists a Clear, Thorough and Honest Summary of Your Expectations and Job Duties
• Listen To Your Heart When Making a Hiring Decision

In a way, leadership is a calling.  Peter Senge (p. 77) pronounces that to be effective today, the leader shoulders an almost sacred responsibility to create conditions that enable people to have happy and productive lives.

Here's how Crowley suggests we connect on a personal level (pp. 81-91):

• Clarify Your Motivations And Intentions For Holding One-On-One Meetings
• Launch The Discussion By Expressing Gratitude For Having Them On Your Team
• Stick To The Agenda And Focus On Your Employee
• Discover Their Dreams and Aspirations
• Demonstrate Your Intent To Grow Them And Develop A Plan
• Use The Discussions to Grow Your Own Leadership Effectiveness

According to Covey, [leadership requires] an abundance mentality, leaders inherently must have a deep inner sense of personal worth, self-confidence and security. Building on this, Crowley insists feeling valued is essential to the well-being of all people and to the spirit which motivates performance (p. 122), leading to five recognition habits:

• Give Recognition Only When Its Earned
• Never Ration Recognition When It Is Earned
• Ensure All Recognition Is Genuine And Sincere
• Institutionalize Recognition
• Encourage People


Coming full circle, the word "encourage" dates back to the fourteenth century and, not surprisingly, means "to give heart" to people (p. 131). That is our leadership challenge.

Thank you Mark for the signed copy of your book.

JE | July 2016