By Steven MihailovichWhen the Conference Board of New York in 2009 reported that only 45 percent of American workers were satisfied with their jobs, a continuous 22-year decline since the indicator was initiated, Mark Crowley decided to do something about it. For Crowley, who had spent the last 25 years professionally leading one successful team after another in retail banking and who has lived in La Jolla for the same period, the statistic made no sense, especially at a time when the highest priority for business is to get the most out of its precious resources.
With the age-old axiom that “a happy worker is a productive one” in tow, Crowley penned a 137-page book, entitled “Lead from the Heart,” to prove that simple changes in management style can matter more than money in propelling employees to the peak of performance and thereby maximizing a company’s bottom line.
“More than half the people hate going to work,” Crowley said. “Their needs have changed and leadership hasn’t. Leadership hasn’t identified what it takes to get people excited.
“The information I’ve gathered, from my experience and scientific research, is a breakthrough for business and I don’t think business understands what I’ve learned. If they understood, they’d realize that this is the way to business nirvana.”
The book’s premise is straightforward: A leader must listen to his/her heart, as much as his/her mind. Employers who take into account the individual needs of workers on the job and who treat employees as human beings, instead of components of the operation, outperform their competitors in the market.
Numerous studies from leading universities and research organizations substantiating the claim fill the pages. Yet Crowley acknowledges that his remedies face an uphill battle, not because of present practices, but past prescriptions.
“I realized that (using) the heart was traditionally seen as being soft, sentimental, and the antithesis to success in business,” he said. “There’s an historical bias against it. Business doesn’t really operate that way. Yet the more I helped other people, the more successful I became ... people know this is the right thing. Most people tell me, I’m glad someone finally said it.”
Crowley said he started writing in early 2009. About midway through the book, he wondered whether there was any scientific evidence to support his assertions that showed in the physiology of the human heart. However, Crowley got no responses from the cardiologists to whom he had written.
During a routine medical examination, Crowley said his doctor directed him toward Dr. Mimi Guarneri, founder and director of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La Jolla. To Crowley’s amazement, he discovered revolutionary research over the past 20 years, which indicates that the physical heart might have a form of cognizance that works in tandem with the brain to direct the body.
“For 300 years, they didn’t believe the heart had any function except as a pump,” Crowley said. “I fell upon information that not only was unknown in business, but was generally not known by the public. It profoundly validated what I had to say.”
Crowley completed the manuscript by March of this year and the book was released on Aug. 31. In the brief month and a half since its release, Crowley said interest has come from places as diverse as China, Russia, the United Kingdom and Japan.
“The first CEO who responded to my book was someone in India asking if I would come and speak,” Crowley said. “The message is universal. This is something that anyone in any business, any organization, can adopt and immediately become effective.”
A book launch party at the Riford Library was attended by more than 100 people, according to branch manager Catherine Greene. The event was so popular that a second will be held there on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
“Leading and heart are not often in the same sentence,” Greene said. “That kind of thinking is the most advanced, sophisticated and humane you’ll see, in my opinion. A lot of these popular self-help books [argue] that all these issues that consume our lives can be solved in seven or 10 steps. That’s pretty insulting to people. Or it ought to be.”
With the book barely out of the gate, Crowley plans to augment his message with speaking engagements, consulting, and blogging at markccrowley.com. He said he can’t rest until the lessons of his life lead to a healthier, heartier, business environment.
“It really became the fulfillment of my life to write this book,” he said. “This was the journey I was supposed to take. My ambition is to move this message and change the way we do things in America. If you open your mind to it, you’ll immediately have productive, loyal workers. You move pretty quickly once you accept it.”
About the book:“Lead from the Heart: Transformational Leadership for the 21st Century” by Mark Crowley, Balboa Press, 137 pages, 2011,