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E210 | Why Leading from the Heart is Better for Business with Mark C Crowley

Leading from the heart is the secret to high performing teams and financial success, says leadership speaker, consultant, change agent for workplace engagement and culture, and author of ‘Lead From The Heart’, Mark C Crowley. 

Mark has spent 25 years leading teams in the financial services industry to record breaking sales and profitability performance by focussing his leadership on the most authentic driver of human engagement – emotional connection. 

In this, The Great Resignation, demonstrating to employees that you not only care about them, but value them and trust them, is one of the best ways to retain them. Simple, heart felt reciprocity, Mark found, is what is required for employees to not just excel, but routinely exceed expectations. 

So, how do you lead from the heart? How do you connect with employees and redefine your employee proposition?

In this episode of Mind Your F**king Business Podcast, Mark reveals why he advocates for leading from the heart, he shares a few simple ways that leaders can lead from the heart, and explains why, 11 years on, the Second Edition of his book is coming out. 

Book recommendations

On today’s podcast:

  • How to lead from the heart
  • The influence of COVID on managers
  • Why the Great Resignation is happening 
  • The benefits of reciprocity


Lead from the Heart with Mark C Crowley

Mark C Crowley, is a leadership speaker, consultant, change agent for workplace engagement and culture, and author of Lead From The Heart, a book about transformational leadership for the 21st century. The second edition of which is out now. 

The need for a second edition

Mark’s first book was not exactly an overnight success, in fact, when the book came out people thought he’d had a religious transformation, or was a Hari Krishna, or that he didn’t understand business. 

Because of the industry that he was working in, financial services, people simply couldn’t understand how someone who advocated for leading from the heart could be as successful as he was, in such a dog eat dog kind of a world.

That’s because in business we’ve traditionally believed that the heart was the worst thing you could do, says Mark. You don’t want to get connected to your people. Instead, managers have adopted the attitude of: I’m paying you to do your job, do your job well, and we’ll give you more pay. And if you don’t, we’re gonna get rid of you. 

And so when the book first came out, people instinctively said he was wrong. But then he started getting interest from educational providers and universities wanting to use his book to teach the next generations about how to be better in business. 

“Business thought it was stupid, but education thought this was the future. They said, this is what has to happen. We want our students to have this information before they go out in the world and start managing people.”

The influence of COVID on heart led leadership

Pre-COVID, wise people were already making the pivot towards leading from the heart, says Mark, but COVID expedited the uptake of the approach because it forced managers to see employees as people, not just numbers on a payroll. 

It influenced them to be more thoughtful towards employees, and we know, says Mark, that job satisfaction and employee engagement scores in many companies actually improved significantly during that time. 

“So what’s the variable? The variable was managers became much more caring, much more supportive. So in light of that, people were like lead from the heart? I’m interested in that now. I’m curious about that because I’ve already seen evidence that it can work.”

The great resignation

During COVID we had more time to think: do I like my job? Do I like my boss? Do I like the company I’m working for? Is my ladder on the right wall? Does my manager care about me? Does my manager even know what I’m experiencing?

And the short answer to all these questions, says Mark, was no. 

“43 million people quit their jobs in the Great Resignation last year. And everybody’s been predicting, oh, it’s gonna come to an end here real soon. Well, guess what? It’s on a record pace this year – 4.3 million people in May.”

Why are people quitting?

We’ve had time to reflect about our current work life setup and if the answers were good and positive, we would have gone back to work saying: ‘I’m just thrilled to be here, thrilled to work for you, thrilled to be doing this work in this company’.

But instead we’ve gone back saying: ‘I don’t want to work for you, I don’t want to work for this company. I don’t want to do this work anymore because you’re not meeting my needs. You’re not meeting any of the needs that I have beyond the paycheck, and life is too damn short.’ 

So now managers are losing people left and right, says Mark, and job seekers are asking what is the reputation of this company? And they’re finding out that the company just lost 40% of their staff because they treat employees like crap. And so job seekers are saying, well we don’t want to work here either. 

All of which is forcing managers to change, not for some noble reason of wanting to be a decent human being, says Mark, but because from a business standpoint they can’t operate by having people leave and then spending months filling those jobs. 

“If a company says our number one problem is recruitment, it’s like, that is not your number one problem. That might be the number one symptom that shows up for you. But that’s not your number one problem, you’ve got a bigger problem somewhere else.”

How to be more heart led

So, in this Great Resignation, what can employers do to be more heart led and prove themselves a decent place to work?

One thing, says Mark, is don’t ghost candidates. 

In the year preceding COVID, employers were getting slack at informing candidates who weren’t selected that they didn’t get the job.  

And that kind of arrogance will result in some nasty karma, says Mark. It’s going to come back and bite you in the form of bad candidate experience spilling into bad reviews, lost customers, and a bad employer reputation. 

“If you personalise it and make people go: Okay, that was worth my time, maybe I’m going to apply to this company again one day. Rather than: you didn’t get the job. And [the candidate] is like, well screw that, I’m never going back to you, and I hate you on top of it, and I’m not gonna buy your products.”

We’re hardwired for reciprocity

Mark’s motto is: love your people. If you do something generous for them, they’ll do something good for you in return. 

When you care about employees, when you coach them, when you develop them, when you make them feel psychologically and emotionally safe. When you do all those things for people, you’re setting very high expectations for performance. 

You aren’t just leading from the heart to be soft, says Mark, it’s a balance of heart and mind. When you do that for people, they’re so grateful that they want to reciprocate and give back to you. By just being generous with people, people are going to reward you. 

It’s actually an added incentive for doing what you should be doing anyway.

Book recommendations

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