Heart-Based Leadership with Mark C. Crowley [Podcast]

Posted on February 8, 2023 by Nate Regier / 0 comments
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Join Dr. Nate Regier on this episode of OnCompassion when his guest, Mark C. Crowley, shares research and unique concepts that will surprise you, challenge you, validate your experience, and invite you to consider so much more than you ever imagined as a leader.

After spending 25 years as a leader in the financial services industry, Mark observed and experienced plenty of the kind of leadership that doesn’t work, but he was most curious about is what does work. Mark is now an expert in heart-based leadership. He is an international consultant, speaker, coach and author, helping leaders and their companies unlock the power of leading from the heart. 

What’s In This Episode

  • How Mark recognized his gift for heart based leadership.
  • How Mark’s upbringing set him up to be the differentiator by giving people all of those things that would have helped him be more successful.
  • What’s wrong with traditional leadership theory, and why doesn’t it work?
  • What role does the heart play in leadership?
  • How the heart is central to our language of leadership.
  • What does the research say on the impact of heart-based leadership in driving business outcomes?
  • How leaders should offer recognition and praise to make the biggest positive impact.

Heart-Based Leadership Highlights

Listen To The Audio

Read The Transcript

VOICEOVER: Are you tired of the negativity and drama? Are you trying to make a difference, only to be drained by people problems? The world needs more compassion, not just more civility and empathy. We need in-the-trenches compassion that struggles alongside people instead of against them, we need a radically different way to engage for breakthrough results. And now, here’s your host, Dr. Nate Regier.

NATE REGIER: It’s funny how sometimes science supports and validates our lived human experience and sometimes they’re at odds. This is particularly true when it comes to the human heart. Is it just an organ that pumps blood or does it have a brain of its own? Is it just a metaphor for human connection or does it actually impact the energy around us? My guest today has grappled with this for his whole life, and has discovered some things that will amaze you, challenge you, validate your experience, and invite you to consider so much more than you’ve ever imagined. His passion, insight and vision for leadership were definitely ahead of their time, but their time is here and the message needs to be shared.

Mark C. Crowley spent 25 years as a leader in the financial services industry. He observed and experienced plenty of the kind of leadership that doesn’t work, but he was most curious about what does work. He recognized something inside him, something about his way of leading that seemed to get good results. So he began exploring and learning all he could about what the research said and what others were doing.

After many years of study and practice, Mark is now an expert in heart-based leadership. He is an international consultant, speaker, coach and author, helping leaders and their companies unlock the power of leading from the heart. Mark’s book, Lead from the Heart, originally published in 2011, and has just been thoroughly updated for a second edition with tons of new research and stories. I’ve read the book and I think it’s one of the most comprehensive and elegantly articulated arguments for compassion and leadership that I’ve read. It’s being taught in nine universities. Mark also hosts a podcast, contributes regularly for Fast Company Magazine and writes for a variety of other major publications.

Mark C. Crowley is transforming the world of leadership by blowing up how we think of compassion. That’s why he’s a perfect guest for my show. Mark, welcome to On Compassion.

MARK C. CROWLEY: Wow, Nate, I mean, that just an exquisite, beautiful introduction and it really sets the great foundation for the conversation that I think we’re going to have, so bravo to you and thank you.

NATE REGIER: Oh, you’re welcome, you’re welcome. I’m certainly been inspired by your work, I’m so glad that we met and would love to learn, just dive in here. I mentioned in the introduction and you’ve shared this, that you noticed that you had a knack for this but didn’t really understand what it was. And I’m curious if you could share just briefly, where did you acquire your passion for heart-based leadership or leading from the heart?

MARK C. CROWLEY: So it’s a very good question and actually, it has a direct answer, but actually it’s a complicated answer. So I’m going to go into my career, 20 years into my career, I think I was 42 years old. And a woman that had been working for me, somebody who was very high-performing, somebody who had worked for me in different organizations actually, for almost 20 years, one day she just looked at me and she said, “You realize you manage people very differently, don’t you?” And so I want to accentuate the fact that I’m 43 years old and I’m having this epiphany that, wait a minute, what does that mean? And so I asked her to explain to me some of the behaviors that she saw me exhibiting in terms of leadership management practices compared to everybody else that she’d ever worked for. And I had this moment epiphany of, “Oh my God, this is a relationship to how I was raised.”

And so really the answer is that my mom died when I was very young and my father took over raising me. And for reasons that I still won’t understand, probably will never understand, his motivation was to cripple me for life. So he emotionally and psychologically abused me my entire childhood. And then once he got me good and insecure with myself and feeling like I was going to go nowhere in my life, he truly cut my legs off by kicking me out of the house right after I graduated from high school, with no money, no “Let’s go find you a place to live that’s clean and safe; and you want to go to college, I’ll support that.” Nothing. I never went back for a meal, I never went back for a holiday, and it was the relationship was over. But he had really undermined my sense of wellbeing and my ability to perform. And now I’m having to basically survive without a job or money or anything. And I had to figure that out. And I did.

So my professors in college should have kicked me out because I was just so distracted the first couple of years.But actually, I got into a rhythm and I got into a, “You’re going to get through this.” I just convinced myself that I would do that. And what ended up happening, Nate, was that in my final couple of years, I started to realize I’m actually doing this. I’m actually doing well in school, I’m doing very well in my job. But I started to look at the people who were graduating with me and I realized these guys are all going off to graduate school and law school and medical school. And I’m just thinking, “Thank God I made it through. That’s the best it’s ever going to be for me.” And then I started looking at them and I’m like, “Why are they feeling so optimistic and confident that they could go off and do this when I’m feeling like I had just barely survived this?”

And I realized I had lost out on so many things. Feeling safe. I never felt safe, I never felt supported, I never had anybody ask me, “How’d you do on your test?” to congratulate me, or even say, “Let’s figure out what classes you’re taking so that you’re going to perform well.” All that thoughtful direction, I had none of it. So unconsciously, when I started managing people, I apparently had a fantasy. And the fantasy was; what if I gave people who work for me everything that I always wanted and believed would make me infinitely more effective and successful, and see what happens to them? So this was all under the hood, all completely unconscious, until Cecilia called it out when I was in my forties. And what I realized was that, instinctively, people responded to this kind of leadership and I thought everybody managed this way. So because I got immediate success by doing this, I kept getting these promotions, and I just thought, “Well, you don’t even question it when things are going well.”

So if it hadn’t been for her, I don’t know when I finally would’ve realized it. But the things that my upbringing influenced me to do was what made me the differentiator. That’s what made me different than everybody else. And so I could see the response that I got from people, not only just in terms of their performance, but just how happy they were to come to work and how engaged and inspired they were, and consistently. And so I really truly believe that I was put here for a purpose. I couldn’t have lost my mom the way I did, and I couldn’t have been raised by my father and get kicked out, have all those struggles, and then have this experience of managing people for a good 20 years before I realized that I was doing it differently. And then from there, Nate, I’ll just end it here, I spent another decade then looking for validation for why this was so successful.

NATE REGIER: Thank you for that story, and for those, I encourage people to get the book, Lead from the Heart, and learn about that story. You tell some really vulnerable stories about your upbringing and how that’s shaped you. And also, I don’t want to ruin the secret, but there’s some other characters in your life that came alongside you that were so important. And we’ll leave that for the book when you read the book. So you’re in here, you’re realizing you’ve got some gifts, some people have called that out, you thought everybody led this way, but you started to see that no, they don’t. And I know that you started doing a lot of research, you worked in the financial services industry for a long time, in management and leadership, and you’ve done a lot of research into leadership. I’m curious, what did you see, what did you learn about how leadership is approached, and what is the problem with our current models of leadership?

MARK C. CROWLEY: The foundational idea of our traditional leadership theory, we’ll call it that, is “pay people as little as possible and squeeze as much out of them as possible.” So there’ll be people listening to this, probably you have an enlightened audience, so maybe they won’t be going, “That’s not true.” But that’s been the model. And we may have different models of that, so there’s different chassis on that. But the idea that our employees are either someone that we’re supposed to exploit or not trust or not partner with, they are our adversaries on some level, they’re going to take advantage of us unless we micromanage them. This has been our way of thinking for a long time. And the foundational idea was people don’t want to work or they won’t work as hard if you don’t make them work. And so your job as a manager is to be a task master, to make sure people are showing up at eight o’clock and putting in their eight hours, and it’s that kind of an attitude.

And so when you start off with treating people that way, they can feel that they’re not highly regarded, they can feel that they don’t matter, they can feel that you don’t trust them, they can feel all these things. And so my thesis is that feelings and emotions drive behavior. We think we’re rational beings, but we’re not.

So I go into work and I walk in at 8:01 AM and I look at my manager and my manager’s got the watch, “Where are you? You’re supposed to be 8:00 AM,” it creates this feeling inside that my manager doesn’t trust that the other 7 hours and 59 minutes that I’m going to be here, that I’m going to be contributing and doing a great job. It immediately creates a distrust and it creates disengagement. People are like, “Why do I want to work for somebody who’s micromanaging the minute when they can’t see the big picture of how much they contribute here?”

NATE REGIER: Well, and I’ve seen this and I hear it in my guests, we see it in the companies that we work for. And yes, there are plenty of leaders who are realizing and recognizing that we do need to treat people with respect, and that actually people do want to contribute and make a difference. And I can’t think of how many guests I’ve had that have come to that same conclusion, that we are emotional beings and if we think that we make decisions rationally and logically, we don’t. You talk about emotional currency, and I’d like to come back to that here in a little bit.

Your research led you to the heart, the organ of the heart. And this is just such a fascinating read, this first section of your book, where you lay out the research on what really is the heart and what role does it play. Will you share with us just briefly, how does the heart itself relate to the mind? How does it relate to leadership? And what do we know about this organ and how important it is?

MARK C. CROWLEY: So let me tell you how I got there. So I had a friend of mine, a former colleague at the bank that I was working with, and he was following my journey of writing the book the first time. So he called me one day, “How’s this going?” And I said, “I’ve got my piles, I’m ready to start writing.” And he says, “You’re know you’re going to have to explain why this works. You’re going to have to tell people why, otherwise people are going to think you needed a shitty childhood in order to manage that way.” And so it was funny, but it pierced me because, Nate, I’d given zero thought to it. I just thought I’m going to explain, if you do these certain practices and aggregate them, do them consistently, you’re going to get infinitely better performance out of people. That was the idea, the second half of the book, if you will. And so what I realized was that he’s right, but I didn’t have an answer, I didn’t know where to go with that.

So I had to start thinking, what is it? What was I doing? What was the effect on people? Why did they respond that way and scale mountains for me?

So sitting exactly where I am looking at my window, I was like, “What is it that I was doing?” And I have this thought; I was affecting the hearts in people. That’s what I was doing. And I had this instant feeling of joy and excitement to have this knowledge, and then instant pain and just completely discontent, disheartened, no pun intended. And I remember telling my wife, I go, “People are just going to, particularly the people that I used to work with in financial services, are going to think this is completely, what happened to him? Did he have a nervous breakdown?'” So what ended up happening was my wife said to me, she goes, “Well, you’ve already proved it. You already know it in your own direct experience. Why don’t you go see if you can find evidence of it?”

So I wrote a world-class cardio surgeon and said, “This is my thesis. I think I was affecting the hearts in people. And is there any truth in that?” Coincidentally, she graduated number one in her class in med school and she had been on a similar journey of being taught that the heart was just a carburetor. Don’t get caught up in the humanity of the heart, and she’s working on it as a med student, and she started to talk to her patients. Now she’s graduated, she’s a doctor, she’s treating people, putting stents in, doing heart surgery, and every one of them had some personal problem. They had bad relationships, stressful jobs, bad bosses, alcohol problems. And she started to realize that their biography was driving their biology. And that couldn’t be the case if your heart was just a pump, if it was just a carburetor.

So when I wrote her, she was like, “Wait a minute, you’re onto the path that I’m on.” So she said to me, she said, “You’re figuring out something that medical science is just finding out, that the heart isn’t just a pump, that the heart actually has its own form of intelligence. And on top of that, that through the vagus nerve, that the heart and the mind are actually connected. And the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the other way around.”

So the heart is actually feeling and sensing this conversation. So if you’re having a good experience, you’re feeling it before you’re thinking it, and it’s the feeling that leads to the thought. So when we say to people, “I think therefore I am,” Descartes said hundreds of years ago, we think, “Yes, we’re rational beings and we want the smartest managers.” And what we’re ignoring inside of people is the truth, is that their hearts, just in terms of just feelings and emotions, are driving up to 95% of their behavior.

NATE REGIER: Man, you are speaking to the choir. And I bet in just this week, I bet I’ve had three conversations with companies that have called or leaders that have called, and when they describe the struggle they’re having, this is what it comes down to. These are smart people, they’re on top of the data, they know what’s going on, they know their industry, they’re experts, and for some reason, there’s this gap, there’s just something that they can’t do. And it comes down to the heart.

I love this, I don’t want to get into it now, but in the book I, there’s so many angles we could go, but again, the book is called Lead from the Heart, Mark C. Crowley, you’ve got to get your copy. There’s this great list of words and phrases that you give showing how we talk about the heart all the time, and we use it to reference things, like “I’m speaking from the heart,” or, “In my heart of hearts.” And you mentioned probably a dozen or more major concepts that we talk about all the time where we use the heart as a metaphor.

And I think it’s really telling that we know somewhere down deep as human beings that the heart is such an important thing. I have a couple really more questions I want to ask you, but there is some really compelling research you share, just some really interesting things. And I bet I’ve told 10 people in the last week about how to get cows to produce more milk. Will you share the research there? Because it’s just blew my mind.

MARK C. CROWLEY: Yeah. There was this study that was done in Great Britain that found that when you name cows, that they produce 6% more milk. And so it was interesting because this, her name is Dr. Mimi Guarneri, she’s had her own PBS Specials, she’s written two books, and she introduced me to an organization called the Institute of HeartMath. And it was in my conversations with them, because they had been studying the intelligence of the heart, that I ended up running across this article and I’m being mentored by one of the founders of this organization. And I said, “What do you make of this?” And he said, “They can feel it. They’re sentient beings just like we are.” So if you go, “Hi, Nelly,” they’re feeling that love, they’re feeling that exchange, they’re feeling validated and cared for. Validated isn’t the right word, they feel like there’s a connection between you, and it’s a positive one. And it’s the same exact thing that we human beings have.

And so what he’s laid out for me, and I’ve articulated this in the book, is that when we have cows at home, we live rurally and we have cows that we get milk from, that we would naturally think to call them Buttercup and Daisy, and have all these lovely warm names for them. But then when we put them on a farm where it’s mass production, we stop doing that and we give them a number, and we put it on their ear lobe and we dehumanize or deCOWyze, if you will, we take the spirit out of the cow. And so when they feel that love and it feels that it’s not just a production line. They can literally feel that, they’re going to produce more because they’re contented cows. And so there’s the parallel to this that if we care about and people can feel that they’re cared about, it’s authentic and real and you truly do, and people can feel that through all the different things that you do, then people are going to produce more.

And that, by the way, Nate, is my direct experience. It’s why people perform so well for me, because they want to reciprocate. We’re hardwired to reciprocate.

NATE REGIER: Well, and that parallel you drew is so powerful. How many times have we heard somebody say, “I’m more than a number, I’m more than just this, I’m a human being. I have a name, I have a life, I have a world here”? So I do want to give you a little bit of time to share some of the particular strategies. Maybe pick out a couple from your book, because the last part of your book is all very practical strategies for leaders. And the good news, the good news that I want people to know is this can be learned. I mean, shoot, it’s not like you got great examples growing up and you’re doing it and teaching it. People can learn how to do this.

But before we get there, will you share a little bit about the business case? Yeah, I mean, we can talk about naming cows and getting some more milk, but really what is the science proving that if we lead from the heart and we build real connections with people that it will improve the bottom line?

MARK C. CROWLEY: Well, there’s actually financial data that’s in the book. There’s analysis that actually shows that when people feel, and it’s broad, so I want to go back to something you said because I think there’s an instinctive reaction to this. So you hear the word heart and there’s a group of people that just automatically shut you down and go, “We don’t do that. And that’s soft. And that’s not only just soft, it’s weak and a sentimental and people who will take advantage of you.” So you have that. But there’s also this understanding that if you care for people that they’re also going to take advantage of you. And so we’ve always had this belief that you have to keep it professional, business-like, and we ignore that there’s a human being that’s on the other side of this.


MARK C. CROWLEY: And I think this is where we go sideways in leadership. And so the financial evidence of this comes in a couple of different places, but very interestingly, a guy named Alex Edmonds, who was at Wharton. He was the youngest tenured professor at 30 years old, and he had just done this analysis of the 100 best companies to work for. And I’ll just cut to the punchline. Basically what he’s shown is that over a 25-year period, just making the list, so just being considered a great place to work, and by the way, from my observation, a lot of the companies that are on that list aren’t all that great, they’re just great in relationship to what everybody else is doing. But if you make that list, he proved that the stock performance of those companies in comparison to their peers is 3 to 4% better every single year. And so we herald these hedge fund guys for getting 2% and they take a cut of it, and he’s saying, “All you need to do is invest in companies that really care about their people.” So aggregated, it’s as simple as that.

So it’s kind of irrefutable. But really what you’re doing is you’re tapping into the human spirit, and you’re tapping into what people want from work, which is to have somebody that wants to see them succeed, wants to see them thrive, respects them for who they are, makes them feel psychologically and emotionally safe. And if you can do those things, people will beat a path to work for you because it’s so rare today.

NATE REGIER: Well, it is rare. And right now the challenge of attracting good talent and then keeping them and engaging them is just everybody’s trying to crack that nut and figure out what to do. So again, a big shout-out to my listeners, if you want really to understand what’s going on with the literature, and what you can do about it, this book Lead from the Heart is incredible because with your 2022 edition, you’re bringing in very recent, up-to-date, Gallup research, engagement research, and it’s such a great summary. So when you talked about the best places to work, you didn’t just show the data, but you said, “And here’s what it distills down to, here’s what they’re all doing in common that relates to this.”

Compassion is our thing. Here at Next Element, we exist to bring more compassion to every workplace. And I saw so many parallels. I think what you’re doing is really trying to blow up and expand our understanding of the role of the heart in leadership. And we’re doing the same with compassion.

We define compassion as the practice of demonstrating that people are valuable, capable and responsible in every interaction. And it’s the practice of demonstrating, these are daily leadership behaviors, but what we’re demonstrating, I think, gets to what you’re saying. People are valuable, they’re capable, and they’re responsible. And it’s so much more than just empathy or just selfless servant leadership. And I’m curious how you see this definition of compassion dovetailing with your work and your research.

MARK C. CROWLEY: Actually, tapping into compassion, there’s science. Dr. Stephen Trzeciak, who wrote Compassionomics and I know you’re familiar with it.

NATE REGIER: Nice, a great, great, great book.

MARK C. CROWLEY:: His work really confirmed. I just told him, “You’re so confirming,” and this was before I’d met you, Nate, so I’m looking at compassion from the same point of view. And all these leaders were getting all excited about empathy, “We’ve found the holy grail and it’s empathy.” And I’m like, “It’s not empathy, it’s compassion.” Empathy is feeling what somebody’s feeling and compassion is actually trying to do something about it, right?


MARK C. CROWLEY:: And so in business we say, “Keep all that separate, we don’t really want to know your story because that messiness is something that’s exhausting, and I don’t have time for it, and it keeps you off the printing press basically, you can’t do your job. And so what compassion is and what their book was able to confirm, from a data standpoint, what I knew completely, was that if you can be present with someone and you can demonstrate to them that something going on in their life matters to you, and that you can offer, if you just acknowledge it, if you just say, “I understand that you’re separated from your husband, everybody’s telling me that today, and I just want you to know I’m here for you and I’m very disappointed for you. I want to make sure that you know that I care about you, and if I can help you in any way, please let me know.” That doesn’t mean I’m going to pay for your marriage counseling or…

NATE REGIER: Or give you a pass on the next project or something.

MARK C. CROWLEY: Right, yeah. Or don’t bother doing your work now that you’re going through separation. No, it’s not. And that’s such a great point because this is where we go. We hear heart and we go, “Oh geez, heart, all we’re going to do is just, ‘Oh, you don’t have to get it done today. I know I needed it today, but it’s okay.'” That’s not what we’re talking about.


MARK C. CROWLEY: All you really want to make sure is that people know you care. And that’s really my translation of compassion. When people feel that you genuinely care about them and express that to them and demonstrate that, they’re feeling the compassion and compassion is a really powerful motivator for people.

NATE REGIER: And Trzeciak’s summary of the research, one of the most powerful things that I remember all the time is the research is on empathy shows that it triggers the pain centers of the brain, ’cause we feel people’s pain and compassion, which is an active practical engagement with people, actually triggers the reward centers of the brain. So people that experience too much empathy actually burn out, they check out, but people who are doing compassion are actually leaning in with purpose and leaning in with connection and actually generate more energy. So the last part of your book offers some really practical strategies. Would you be willing to highlight maybe one or two of these practices to give some leaders out there a place to start?

MARK C. CROWLEY: I’m going to start with the one that I think is the most important, and truthfully, they’re all equally important. But I say it of importance because the minute I’m going to say this, people are going to go, “Oh, well, that’s obvious.” And yet there’s this massive gap in terms of what managers think they do in relationship to what employees think they do.

So I’m talking about recognition. And we botch recognition, starting with, I think, an assumption that, so I say to you, “Nate, I can tell you’ve done a tremendous amount of work to prepare for this conversation, and I’m just incredibly honored that you would take the time to read the book, come up with really great questions, and bravo.” So I’ve done that, which, by the way, is more than a lot of managers are willing to do to start with, to be that expressive, to be that specific, and to be that deep into the recognition.

But then there’s this idea, “Well, I thanked him now. I don’t have to thank you and when we’re done here. I don’t have to thank you anymore, you know that I appreciate it.” And this is not the way human beings are wired. So if you do something else, and I’m not saying, “Thank you, Nate, thank you, Nate, thank you, Nate.” What I’m saying is, is that if I have an assignment for you and you get it to me ahead of time, I’m going, “Wow, that’s awesome, because I promised it to my boss and I’m going to get it to them early, and so thank you for that.” The next day you come in and you go, “Hey, you know that big goal that you wanted me to meet? I met it.” I thanked you already, so I don’t need to do that. That’s the mythology.

NATE REGIER: Yeah, I like to say it’s kind of like telling your spouse, “I told you I loved you when we got married, and I’ll let you know if it changes.”

MARK C. CROWLEY: Exactly, right? I’ll update you if any… Yeah, right?

NATE REGIER: Yeah, yeah.

MARK C. CROWLEY:  So it’s a flowchart, you should always assume. But what I’ve learned is that, so first of all, if you go up to the average manager and you say, “Is recognition important?” they’re like, “Duh.” And then you go to their employees and you say, “Well, the guy I just asked thinks recognition is duh, so he’s obviously doing a lot of it. How do you feel?” And they’re going, “I can’t remember the last time somebody said I’m doing a great job or thank you.”


MARK C. CROWLEY: But first of all, when you recognize people, you will get more of what you’re recognizing. So whatever you reward, you’re going to get more of that behavior. So if somebody is doing something that’s even close to what you want them to do, applaud them. The other myth, Nate, is that we think, so I just complimented you, well, that just cost me something. I just had to reach into my wallet on some level to acknowledge your performance. And so I just can’t be thanking you all the time because somehow we’ve associated that with a loss. And it’s just the opposite. The more you can praise, and some people are going to hear this and they’re going to go, “Oh, geez, all he wants to do is thank and congratulate people,” and I’m like, “No, it’s thank and congratulate people when they do what you need them to do.” Thank you is a very powerful word, but also thank you for doing this specifically. This is what I love, getting me a project done on time, exceeding a goal, I’m so grateful to you. And we think, “Well, they’re getting paid, they’re getting bonuses, they should know,” and the appraise and appreciation goes here.

NATE REGIER: I really, really like that you brought that one up. And humans are kind of like our cell phones, the batteries don’t take stay charged forever. And we do need battery charges, we do need to plug in and get plugged in. And another great table, actually, I published it in my blog this week, is a comparison you put between leadership philosophy and practices of the past and the future. And it is just such a great juxtaposition. And you talk about recognition, you talk about pay, and how we view that in the past versus how we need to view it now. And so again, another, and just I can’t emphasize enough, go out and get Lead from the Heart, Mark C. Crowley, it’s just fantastic.

Any last tips you want to leave with us, or personal anecdotes, or something you just really feel on your heart that the world needs to know?

MARK C. CROWLEY: That’s a great question. So I would say this; those things that we’ve been talking about, giving somebody your attention, giving somebody appreciation, finding ways to grow them, making them feel psychologically and emotionally safe, it turns out that every one of those translates into a positive emotion.

So the head of Heartmath, one of the founders, the head researcher for the last 30 years, he goes, “You probably don’t realize what you did.” Which of course I didn’t until Cecilia called that out. He goes, “But what you were instinctively doing was letting people marinate in positive emotions, which we know sets people up for optimal performance. So that’s why people perform for you because you were giving them that.” Separate from that, more recently, I’ve learned that when we think of positive emotions, we think of joy and awe and attention and love and appreciation. All those are positive emotions. What we also know is that deep down what they all individually translate into is love.

So joy is an experience of love, awe is an experience of love, having somebody give you attention is an experience of love.

That’s how we feel it. And we need to be grownups. As my sons say, in the my case, “Be a grown-ass man.” Don’t look at love like it’s something romantic, it’s just how we experience it.


MARK C. CROWLEY:: So I think there’s two takeaways from my book that I always want people to remember. The first one is you reap what you sow. And the second one is love your people. And you don’t have to go, “I love you, Nate, I love you, Nate,” we just have to show it to them. Just demonstrate that you care about them in the ways that we’ve been talking about, and you’ll have a profound impact on their performance.

NATE REGIER: Wow, that’s fantastic. I think maybe the best takeaway is great leaders set their people up to marinate in positive emotions.

MARK C. CROWLEY: Very good.

NATE REGIER: I love to cook, I love to smoke meats, I’m marinating stuff all the time.

MARK C. CROWLEY: Oh, I’m coming over for that.

NATE REGIER: I need to extend that to the people. Mark, thank you so much for your time, what you’ve put in, just your openness and candor about your own story, and how you’ve transformed your experience into something that’s making a difference in the world. If people want to learn more about you and your work, where should they go?

MARK C. CROWLEY: My website is markccrowley.com, and that all roads will take you there. Obviously, my book is on Amazon and any bookstore all over the world, but markccrowley.com, you can find me. I’m on Twitter, I’m on LinkedIn, but all of that, you can find me on my website.

NATE REGIER: We will put all of those links in the show notes, and again, Lead from the Heart, Mark C. Crowley. Mark, thank you so much.

MARK C. CROWLEY: You’re fantastic, Nate. Thank you so very much.

NATE REGIER: Wow, what a great conversation. I learned so much from Mark about leading from the heart. Here are my top three takeaways from this conversation. 

First of all, the heart has a brain of its own. The vagus nerve connects the heart and brain, and it turns out that the heart sends more signals to the brain than the other way around. Feelings and emotions are driving up to 90% of behavior, and a lot of it originates from the heart. So when we speak to the heart and we seek to foster positive feelings in people, we’re directly influencing the brain and behavior. 

My second key takeaway is that when you name cows, they produce 6% more milk. You heard right. A research study showed that dairy farmers who name their cows get more milk. Names represent and encourage a personal heart-based connection. Anyone who’s had a pet knows this. The parallel is that humans, even more than animals, respond positively to knowing that you care about them as human beings. So as leaders, the question is, what are we doing to personalize our interactions with our people? 

The third takeaway is that it’s a myth if you care for people, that they will take advantage of you or fail to perform. Mark shared research looking at stock performance of the 100 best companies to work for. For the past 25 years, companies who made this list have 3 to 4% better stock performance compared to their peers. That’s monumental considering that we praise hedge funds that get 2% growth. It’s because these companies are tapping into the human spirit. Their employees are working for someone who cares about them and wants them to succeed, thrive and feel safe.

VOICEOVER: I hope you enjoyed this episode of On Compassion with Dr. Nate. If you found new hope or guidance for your life, will you share it with your tribe? If you know someone who could be a great guest, please let us know. Are you ready for a practical way to bring more compassion to your organization? We have a solution. Visit www.thecompassionmindset.com, check out the show notes for links and contact information, and remember to subscribe, rate and give a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening. Until next time, keep your compassion mindset engaged.

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