Book Review: Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Dr. Henry Cloud

Reviewed by Jennifer Baker, Leadership Development Coordinator

“Who a person is (character) will ultimately determine if their brains, talents, competencies, energy, effort, deal-making abilities, and opportunities will succeed.” (Cloud, p. 8).

Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality, explores the premise that, while the majority of people focus on professional skills and knowledge to determine a great leader, the most important aspect of leadership potential is actually found in the character of the person. He defines character as “the ability to meet the demands of reality” (Cloud, p. 24). He goes on the explain that “just as the ‘character’ of the metal determines whether (an) airplane is going to succeed in (a) kind of heat or torque, a person’s character determines whether he or she will succeed in (a) situation. Their makeup, their integrity, will either be able to deliver or not. They will meet the demand . . . only if their character can meet that demand” (Cloud 24). He indicates that in order for a leader to be successful, they must have character as well as abilities. They must be well-rounded in all aspects of life. Therefore, “when we are talking about integrity, we are talking about being a whole person, an integrated person, with all of our different parts working well and delivering the functions that they were designed to deliver. (Integrity) is about wholeness and effectiveness as people” (Cloud, p.31).

With this in mind, Dr. Cloud establishes the following six character dimensions that are necessary to be a person and leader with integrity:

  1. Establishing Trust
  2. Oriented Toward Truth
  3. Getting Results
  4. Embracing the Negative
  5. Oriented Toward Increase
  6. Oriented Toward Transcendence

Throughout this book, Dr. Cloud explores these six character dimensions and illustrates how leaders can grow in integrity. He expounds on his definition of character to indicate that “the immature character asks life to meet his demands. But the mature character meets the demands of life” (Cloud, p. 258).

This read will challenge you to think outside the box of the traditional measure of leadership success to a more well-rounded view of measuring the whole person of a leader. I would encourage you to take a look and measure your own level of integrity as you face the demands of reality.

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