Tag Archive for character

Integrity, by Henry Cloud


In the Christmas season, we all tend to pause and take some time to reflect on the things that really matter; things like family, love, generosity, and the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ as a baby in a manger.  It seems appropriate, then, to take a little time to focus one of the character traits that we notice more during this time of year:  integrity.  For that reason, this week I share some thoughts about Henry Cloud’s book, “Integrity,” and next week I am drawing  a lesson on leading with integrity from the example of George Bailey in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful life,” from a post I originally shared two Christmas’s ago.


integrity-cloud-coverAccording to Dr. Henry Cloud, there are three essential qualities of successful leadership: Competence, or the ability to “master your craft,” to “get good at what you do”; Relationships, or the ability to “cultivate and maintain relationships that are mutually beneficial”; and Character, or “your makeup as a person . . . not just moral safeguards, but who you are at your core, in both positive and difficult circumstances.” It is this third quality, Character, that he addresses in his book, “Integrity: The courage to meet the demands of reality” (2006).


In the book, Dr. Cloud connects character with integrity and reality, by explaining how reality puts demands on our lives that force us to respond, and how our response to reality are a reflection of our character. Our integrity, then, is seen in how our character is consistently demonstrated in all areas of who we are. He then discusses six specific aspects of our personhood – who we are – that must be integrated (consistently reflective of our character) for us to successfully lead:

  • The ability to establish trust through authenticity
  • The ability to see and speak the truth and reality, both in/to themselves and in/to others
  • The ability to finish well
  • The ability to embrace – and therefore to learn from – the negative
  • The ability to be oriented toward growth, which requires intentional effort and application
  • The ability to be oriented toward transcendence, recognizing that something bigger than you, from which your values will emanate


I found this to be an interesting and thought-provoking book. The emphasis was not so much on the character trait of integrity, but rather on the importance of having an integrated character. I would probably describe it in terms of consistency in your response to the realities of life in all circumstances, which reflects who you are as a person. Therefore, in this context, integrity is actually referring to an internal state – the unified wholeness in your character and your personhood as you navigate life. I do believe whole-heartedly that consistency and authenticity are necessary for successful leadership (and successful relationships), so this is a good lesson on which to reflect.

What Do You Think . . . Does character really matter?  


I have witnessed people in leadership demonstrating both great integrity and character, and a lack of it; I’m sure you have as well. I don’t think there can be any doubt that character really matters in leadership, because I have seen the impact of both. But what about you? Do you think that character really matters? Why? Please share your experiences in the comment box below.

“Redefining Leadership,” by Joseph Stowell

Redefining Leadership, by Joseph Stowell, CoverWe have seen leaders on the national and international stage who clearly seem to lack character and integrity, and the impact of their leadership has been devastating to watch. However, it is sometimes our tendency to see that as a “far-off problem,” and miss the fact that character and integrity are important issues in our own leadership. This is the issue that Joseph Stowell addresses in Redefining Leadership: Character-driven habits of effective leaders (2014).

Very early, in the introduction, he posits that, “The kind of person you are and how you navigate your leadership is at the core of long-term effectiveness” (p. 13). Essentially, he states that character-driven leadership is reflected in the kind of person you are as you lead, and how you lead, and he establishes Jesus as the teacher and model of this kind of leadership. Character-driven leadership, he says, reflects Jesus and gives us credibility.

In the first section of the book, Stowell differentiates between outcome-driven leadership and character-driven leadership, and then explores the implications of those differences, including the impact that results from the “who” and “how” of our leadership. In the second section of the book, he establishes Jesus as the example to follow. He explores and explains Jesus’ actions and thought process (the mind of Christ), and draws from them lessons for our own leadership that reflect Jesus’ style of leading (and serving). In the final section of the book, Stowell explains and applies the principles given by Jesus that are found in The Beatitudes, in the Sermon on the Mount, and establishes these as core competencies for character-driven leadership.

There is no doubt in my mind that character-driven leadership is an absolute necessity for our leadership as followers of Jesus, and this book is an excellent resource for helping us to understand and apply it. The challenge is that the pressures of the world in which we lead often make it difficult to maintain character and integrity, which in turn makes it that much more important for us, becoming a way that we can set ourselves apart and reflect Jesus to the world around us. I would urge you to reflect on your own leadership style and practice, and make sure that the actions you are taking, the motives that are driving you, and the character you are exhibiting all reflect Jesus, and I would encourage you to pick up a copy of this book as a reminder and a resource.

Stowell, J. M. (2014). Redefining Leadership: Character-driven habits of effective leaders. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.

Character Matters. It Really Does.

It’s November. This is the month of Thanksgiving. It also seems to be the time of the year when we emphasize certain values, like gratitude, service, and family. And the closer we get to the celebration of Thanksgiving (followed by the season of Christmas), the more we think about those kinds of virtues. That’s part of the reason why my posts this month focus on character and its expression – topics like, how to make things right when you mess up, why integrity matters to leadership, and even a review of book on the importance of character in leadership (“Redefining Leadership.” By Joe Stowell).


In my personal opinion, character in leadership always matters, even though, too often, it seems to be missing. So I want to be sure that I am taking this opportunity to emphasize its importance, and remind us all that the most effective leadership will be authentic, will have integrity, will reflect honesty, will be trustworthy, and will do what is right. I know that sometimes it’s really hard to do what’s right – perhaps because it’s going to hurt to tell the truth, perhaps because there will be something that is sacrificed or lost by being honest rather than deceitful, perhaps because it seems like the “bad guy” will win – and so you struggle with choosing to do the right thing. The truth is, it may be very hard, and you may not always see an immediate gain, but you will always be better by doing what is right.


So, as we enter this holiday season, let me encourage you to be intentional and thoughtful about what you do and how you do it. Treat people right regardless of how challenging they may be. Prove yourself to be worthy of trust, in both your words and your actions. Invest in relationships and in others. Be conscious of your choices, regardless of whether or not anyone is looking at you (and someone probably is, whether you realize it or not). As my dad used to say to me when I was young (and I, in turn, said it to my children), “It’s right to do right, because it’s right.” So do what’s right. Lead with integrity. Be genuine. Be humble. Let your leadership reflect your character; and not just during this particular holiday season, but always.