Cloudy with a Chance of Insight

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Yesterday Ryan Hawk released his 50th episode of The Learning Leader Show, and he marked the milestone with a truly world-class leadership guest: Dr. Henry Cloud. Having been a huge fan of Dr. Cloud’s work for so long, I was nevertheless excited to live vicariously through my friend and hear what a one-on-one conversation with Dr. Cloud on Leadership would be like. Neither he, nor Ryan, disappointed. At 35 minutes, it is a great listen as you drive to work. Download it from iTunes or Stitcher and go.

One of the themes of The Learning Leader Show is asking guests about a characteristic or practice that they have observed as being a common denominator among great, effective leaders. Rather than respond with a single point and soundbyte, Dr. Cloud gave a four point answer:

  1. Humility — simply being honest about who you are; a self-image that is accurate
  2. Focus — ability to pull off extraordinary things through dedicated attention to just a few things
  3. Purpose — driven by something greater than yourself; a passion for a transcendental mission
  4. Relational — motivated by empathy, love, and care for others; ability to connect with others in a way that creates Trust

Because I’m a visual person, what was delivered as a mental bullet-point list comes to life for me as a four-dimensional model of Great Leadership:


Don’t think of that as a traditional X|Y graph that illustrates two perpendicular continuums. Rather, imagine looking top-down at the top of a four sided pyramid, with the intersection being the pinnacle of where great leadership balances:



Too many people who fancy themselves “Leaders” spend their time as the leader camped out at the base of one side of this mountain, content to being a master of the single dimension they feel most comfortable with naturally. However…

  • Results without Purpose is pointless;
  • Results without Relationships is heartless;
  • Results without Humility is delusional;
  • Purpose without Humility is self-righteousness;
  • Purpose without Relationships is self-contained;
  • Relationships without Humility are doomed to failure.

Wanna be a truly GREAT Leader? Leave the comfortable campsite of what comes naturally and climb the mountain, cultivate all four dimensions of your leadership, and do the extremely difficult work of remaining balanced atop their intersection.

(On the way, grab the books that were the focus of this interview with Dr. Cloud: Integrity and Boundaries for Leaders. Then read them…)

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