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La Jollan’s book has advice for managers — ‘Lead From the Heart’

La Jolla resident and author Mark Crowley
The key to successful leadership is knowing that “intelligence is distributed through our entire bodies” but is concentrated in our hearts, says La Jolla resident and author Mark Crowley.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

“The way we traditionally manage people is fundamentally flawed,” says longtime La Jolla resident and UC San Diego graduate Mark Crowley.

Crowley has written a new book called “Lead From the Heart” to address that claim and offer his take on successful leadership — advice that is the culmination of his years of leadership and workplace research.

Crowley, a former national sales manager for investments who has years of managing in financial services, said the key to successful leadership is knowing “intelligence is distributed through our entire bodies” but is concentrated in our hearts.

“We’ve always thought the heart was just a pump and that the mind [has] all our cognitive ability,” he said. But “the truth of the matter is 90 to 95 percent of the decisions we make every single day are being made by our emotions. Our feelings and emotions are driving our behavior and our mind is rationalizing our behavior based on what we’re feeling.”

Trying to motivate performance through reporting of numbers is meaningless, Crowley said. “There’s no emotional connection to any of that. But if we say, ‘Hey, we’re all sharing in the benefits of this, so if we can improve these scores, we’re all going to get greater rewards and benefits,’ suddenly that feels good to me because there’s something in this for me.”

The premise of “Lead From the Heart” is “if feelings and emotions are driving our behavior, then we fundamentally need to … manage people in ways that give them the positive feelings and emotions they need in order to thrive,” he said.

Crowley said the subject is timely given the “great resignation,” during which millions of Americans have quit their jobs since January 2021, and “quiet quitting,” in which employees do nothing more than the basics, refraining from exceeding expectations.

"Lead From the Heart" contains suggestions for becoming a better leader.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

“What’s happening is that you have a two-year COVID period where people are working from home and they had plenty of time to start thinking about ‘Is my ladder on the right wall? Am I working for the right company? Am I working for the right boss?’” Crowley said.

“People basically had this epiphany, but they had it all over the world … at the same time, which was, ‘I’m not going to work for an organization or specifically a manager that doesn’t fundamentally care about me as a person. I’m just not going to have this transactional relationship.”

This is in contrast with the past 100 years, he said, when “historically … we’ve been willing to … put up with a bad boss and a bad organization and bad treatment and exploitation.”

“If feelings and emotions are driving our behavior, then we fundamentally need to … manage people in ways that give them the positive feelings and emotions they need in order to thrive.”

— Mark Crowley

People still must endure “the stresses and strains and difficult people [leading to] negative emotions,” Crowley said, “but if I’m saying to you, ‘You did a really great job yesterday; I really appreciate you,’ that’s a positive emotion. It’s very powerful.”

“Science validates that managers who really, truly care about their people, support them, make them feel safe, develop them, make sure they feel that they’re growing and having opportunities to learn more” will be successful at encouraging positive emotions, he said.

Micromanagement to ensure employees are working hard “proves to be the worst thing you could possibly do to a human being,” Crowley said, because it undermines optimal performance by building negative emotions.

Crowley said he spent 14 months finding the scientific evidence that backs up his advice.

“I’ve connected cardio research, cardio science … to show that the heart and mind are constantly in communication, with the heart sending more signals to the mind,” he said. “We completely underestimate the intelligence of the heart.”

The more managers pay attention to this connection, the more successful they’ll be at motivating employees to do more, Crowley said.

“Lead From the Heart” reveals Crowley’s research and his suggestions that go beyond doling out positive feedback and compliments.

Efforts have to “be authentic,” he said. “You have to truly care about people.”

Having a good relationship with and knowing what’s important to the people “who drive your performance [means] they’re going to help you meet those goals you need,” he said.

To purchase “Lead From the Heart,” visit amzn.to/3UBtVhW.