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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
The Collins imprint of HarperCollins Publishers continues to pour out a very impressive stream of books that address ethical issues in business. Dr. Henry Cloud's book, "Integrity," published just a few weeks ago, is the latest offering in this genre. I found it to be a very encouraging, challenging and ultimately uplifting work. Henry Cloud, despite his background as a psychologist, manages to avoid the "psychobabble" one often encounters in reading clinicians who opine on business ethics. He anchors his thoughts in the real world of clients he has consulted with in helping them to address very real and concrete business issues that have deep roots in issues of ethics and integrity.

Dr. Cloud makes it clear that "integrity," as he uses the term, is much more than mere "honesty." Throughout the book he parses and elucidates six essential qualities and character traits that lead to success in the business world. He describes the kind of character that . . .

1) Creates and maintains trust

2) Is able to see and face reality

3) Works in a way that brings results

4) Embraces negative realities and solves them

5) Causes growth and increase

6) Achieves transcendence and meaning in life

"You will see how these character traits supercede gifts, talents and ability, and how the ones who have them succeed and the ones who don't, ultimately fail." (Page xii)

In this review, I will offer more quotations than I typically do in writing about a book. The reasons for this proliferation of quotes are that I want to share a fair sample of Dr. Cloud's nuggets, and he states the case very well in his own words. I could not improve upon them through more extensive commentary.

In talking with a wealthy businessman who is a personal friend, Dr. Cloud heard his friend comment on how he chooses to invest his money in businesses.

"I did not invest in those businesses. I invested in the people. I never invest in businesses I don't know anything about, but I will invest in a person. If I know their character, their history, how they operate, what kind of judgment they have, what kinds of risks are acceptable to them, how they execute, and things like that, and I know them well, I will invest. But I don't buy businesses I don't know anything about." (Pages 29-30)

Early in this book, Dr. Cloud gives us his expanded definition of integrity as it applies to the business world:

"And, the origins of the word we can see in the French and Latin meanings of intact, integrate, integral and entirety. The concept means that the `whole thing is working well, undivided, integrated, intact and uncorrupted.' 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. It is about wholeness and effectiveness as people. It truly is `running on all cylinders.'" (Page 31)

The author offers a very clear and helpful metaphor for the type of impact that this kind of person of integrity has on the lives of those with whom she or he interacts. Dr. Cloud posits that each of us, as we move through the waters of life, leave behind a wake, like that left by ships as they pass through the ocean. There are two aspects to the "wake" that we leave behind - the tasks we have performed and the relationships we have built.

"We leave a wake of people behind us as we move though their lives and their organizations. . . So, we must ask ourselves, `What does that wake look like?' Are a lot of people out there water-skiing on the wake, smiling, having a great time for our having `moved through their lives'? Or are they are there bobbing for air, bleeding, and left wounded as shark bait?" (Page 18)

In the chapter on Building Trust Through Connections, Cloud offers this profound insight that helps us to understand the difference between those persons and companies that command loyalty and those that do not:

"The human heart will seek to be known, understood, and connected with above all else. If you do not connect, the ones you care about will find someone who will." (Page 70)

Applying this principle alone in most companies today would dramatically reduce the costs of employee theft, turnover, recruiting, retention and succession planning.

In the chapter on Trust Through Vulnerability, Cloud talks about an early childhood experience he had with his mother that caused him to trust her more deeply than he might otherwise have been able to do.

"I needed a model that was strong enough to depend on, but vulnerable enough to identify with. That combination is what made it work. In essence, it said, `Hey, she is like me, in that she is afraid sometimes and feels like she can't do it. But, she does it anyway. She pushes forward.'

Her vulnerability is what made her power available to me." (Page 92)

In sharing What People In Touch Look Like, Dr. Cloud recounts an incident that happened on a retreat for CEO's, when a young "superstar" was given an opportunity to receive feedback from a more senior CEO.

"One of the more experienced guys looked up and said, `Want some feedback?' He said it in a way that left you wondering whether he was going to give sage advice or rail at the young man for being out to lunch in some way. There was just no way to tell from his poker face. But I will never forget the young superstar's immediate response: `By all means. Give me a gift.' He saw the feedback, whatever it was, as a gift because it could give him some reality that he did not know. I remember thinking, `We will be watching this guy's accomplishments for a long time.'" (Page 116)

Cloud then ratchets up the significance of this insight by suggesting a challenging way for us to put this principle of inviting feedback to a practical test:

"If you want to know your comfort level in this matter, think of going to the people you work with or are in close personal relationships with and give them 100 percent permission to be totally honest with you in answering the question: `What is it like to be on the other end of me?'" (Pages 116-117)

I must draw to a close this review, lest I run the risk of conveying Cloud's whole book to you via this Blog! I want to encourage you to buy the book as an investment in yourself and in your growth and success. But, in closing, I will share a final excerpt that captures the essence of what this book is all about:

"I just returned from an international leadership summit in which the leaders discussed their personal orientations toward growth. One global leader said that about ten years ago, he was near burnout and collapse, as his organization had exploded in size. But, he himself was dying. So, with input from his board, he made a huge investment of both time and money. He decided that every summer he would take six weeks away to study, refresh, get input into his soul, and re-create. He put the number two person in charge with orders not to call him `unless the whole thing were burning down.'" (Pages 222-223)

Dr. Cloud chose to protect the anonymity of this global leader. I do not know if he was referring to Pastor Bill Hybels of WillowCreek Church, but I have heard with my own ears Pastor Hybels share a similar story of taking intentional steps to prevent burnout by making the difficult decision to get away from daily pressures in order to carve out some time to recharge the batteries and to reinvigorate the soul. That is the very heart of integrity.

Most business leaders I know will find something of value in this book that they can internalize and begin to apply immediately - for their own benefit and for the benefit of all those who are "surfing their wake."

Enjoy.

Al Chase
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2006
I was pleasantly surprised that this book was so much different and more insightful than the other books I have read that deal with the subject matter of "integrity." Here, the focus of meaning of integrity is not so much on morals and ethics, although that is covered here, but it instead focuses on deeper aspects of character. The basic assumption here is that "integration" or "wholeness" of character is a necessary component in order to reach one's maximum potential both personally and professionally, and that character is not fixed or unchangeable. This book is extremely inspirational and informative. It is a roadmap to success and happiness. Highly recommended!
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2006
After skimming and then reading Integrity, our most difficult task was to classify the book so that we could explain it. We'll try.

Dr. Cloud has written an excellent, "Yeah But" book. Integrity is a fun, easy book to read as well as a sobering, difficult book to read. It isn't a business roadmap book. Instead it is more of a lifestyle enhancement guide that can help you achieve personal satisfaction different from great financial wealth -- and professional satisfaction/success.

When we first skimmed the book we said "yeah but" quite a bit because we couldn't fault Dr. Cloud's key points and discussion. You have a tendency to read and agree with the six essential qualities for success that he outlines and explains then experience or rationalization steps in and says..."yeah but if we had done that awhile back when were in this situation, we would have been nailed!"

That's why we strongly encourage you to read Integrity in a different way than you might most books if you really want to get the author's message (and we believe he has a message for everyone in the industry!).

Skim the book, put it down and leave it alone for a week or two. Then pick it up and read really read the book with the idea that you're going to understand the key reality issues and can use them to enhance every aspect of your life.

Integrity really is a must-read!!!!

A clinical psychologist, Cloud has identified a set of key character traits ability to transcend, ability to focus on growth, ability to understand and deal with negatives, ability to focusing on results and finishing tasks, connecting in an authentic manner and orientation toward truth. The book helps you come to grips with adversity, learn from it and reshape/relearn behavioral patterns that will help you succeed.

Using real examples from business leaders across the spectrum P&G, Dell Computer, Toshiba, 7-Eleven and other organizations he makes it easy for you to understand how successful people enhance their competencies, build business and personal alliances and enrich their own character.

The ability to transcend according to Cloud means being able to lead programs and projects with a greater truth because people like to be around individuals who are committed to the greater mission and in making the project/program succeed.

Concerning the demands of reality, he notes that we have to constantly grow and increase our abilities, skills and capacities as a total person; not just on the job. We particularly liked his examination of what happens when individuals or their surroundings suppress the natural desire to grow by not taking calculated risks. Mistakes and "failures" can help you enhance your integrity.

Problems occur and "stuff" happens but Cloud points out that if people are able to address the negatives and work through them to a positive solution then they can regroup and recover. Often achieving even more than they had anticipated.

Successful people seem to have a unique ability to make the tough decisions that allow they to realize their goals. Granted they don't always win but they know how to lose gracefully and learn from the shortcoming. If you ask 100 people if they work hard the majority will claim they do but Cloud asserts that they don't achieve lofty goals. They don't achieve what he calls real results because they don't make the hard choices and if they achieve a partial win they are satisfied and don't push for the ultimate goal.

Cloud focuses heavily on truth which in his opinion allows people to find and work in reality. He emphasizes that people who are constantly expanding their integrity actively pursue reality, grab it and make it work for them.

We found his explanation of successful people who had integrity were also authentic or real. We can all identify people who are nice because they understand and empathize with people's needs. Adding to that he notes that leaders and successful people are simultaneously seem strong and vulnerable as well as trusting and committed. He emphasizes that people who can connect with you in a way that makes you understand that they value these key component increases their integrity in your mind and enables/encourages you to help them achieve goals.

Cloud has spelled out the traits that anyone can develop if they work at it hard enough so that they become second nature and as natural as breathing. Then you can look in the mirror and state emphatically that you have integrity. More importantly, it will encourage those around you to deal with their personal and business encounters with integrity.

If we were to fault Cloud's work in any way it would be that the underlying premise of the book is that people who have integrity and face up to reality achieve financially. But maybe that's the motivation you're going to need deal with integrity and reality in your personal and professional life.

Whatever your goals, Integrity should be skimmed, read and reread until the six characteristics are natural to you.

#######
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
In my view some of the reviews are a bit hyped up. One is far too negative. This is a really good book aimed at bringing up the integrity factor for corporate leaders. We all know this is a problem.

I think Dr. Cloud has offered up a number of great concepts in a very readable form that will help many CEO's 'get it'. Many of his illustrations bring a sense of healthy reflection and conviction to the reader. Many (but not all) of his illustrations feed the concept he is making well. I found myself agreeing with him because of the pure logic of his points (over and over).

A few problems some of my buddies pointed out with this book are:
He has redefined the word integrity to include a lot more than the word normally means. The problem with this is that many readers will tend to forget his nuanced definition over time and therefore may forget what he is saying they need to do. Whenever someone takes a common word and expands it's definition to mean more than the dictionaries give for that word, we risk cultivating a short term memory of the concepts given.

For myself, I think I found nagging questions left unanswered in my mind.
How does he know these are the keys? What has research shown? What are the real priorities of a great or successful leader?

I think the research I am aware of points to different factors, and this is why I was a little unconvinced that he has hit on 'the key' for success. One can have integrity and still not be a great leader. Leadership and integrity are two different things. To bring success to a corporate organization requires more than integrity. It requires inspiring and equipping leadership. This is the 'inspirational factor'. Hasn't research proven these are keys that cannot be overlooked for success? I think so. I think that integrity in the soul of a powerful leader then becomes inspiring, partially because of the integrity, but also because of the leadership and competence of the leader.

So I found myself asking the question...why has he chosen these things. He says that he chose them because they occured to him in a conversation. That was unconvincing for me. Now the points he makes seem really important, but how do we know that they are really the keys for success that he claims they are? Surely some studies could be developed to bear this theory out or to show if it needs adjusting. Having said all this, Integrity is a really good book. It's packed with great points and will help you tremendously.

So I would suggest that this book be read as it really is, a proposal on what we need to bear in mind for success in our ventures. With that in mind, I think this book is very helpful, it is very creative and it is fun to read. He challenges us in six essential areas that all feed into integrity in one way or another. One of his concepts is that success requires us to finish well. Another one is that we must connect well with others and gain their trust. The intrinsic logical quality of the points is as solid as it can get. This book is also packed with a steady stream of great illustrations. If you are a reader who loves illustrations, you will absolutely love this book.

I think this book is good for owners, presidents of corporations or managers of people in various settings.

I highly recommend Integrity for developing great leadership talent in churches as well. There are a lot of great ideas in this book that any trainer of leaders can use. I hope you enjoy it thoroughly. I certainly have.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
"Integrity" by Henry Cloud is a good title that addresses the character issue of integrity. Cloud interprets the word as a person who is a whole, does not act in a way contrary to his or her makeup, and is not afraid to confront issues in his or her life.

In the book Cloud mentions numerous examples of people who failed in their careers because of some character flaw:

1. Unwillingness to confront problem employees.
2. Narcissism - attempts to feel so good about self that thorny issues are not confronted because doing so would create discomfort in one's life.
3. Selfishness - being "nice" to people but not also looking out for them and instead focusing on your own interests.
4. Other flaws.

Cloud mentions several clients (not by real name) and how he helped the client address a particular issue or event.

Cloud offers some solutions in dealing with and developing character by:

1. Building trust with others through: connection, looking out for other's interest, and being vulnerable to others.
2. Learning to finish well in life.
3. Not being afraid to confront and deal with difficult issues and potential character flaws that if left untreated, can ruin your life.
4. Desiring to grow and mature as you get older.
5. Getting involved in something larger than your own existence.

The book is a good read and I enjoyed the title. I recently finished reading a newer title by Cloud entitled "One-Life Solution" and think I liked that title better.

Still, a good read and recommended. Enjoy and be challenged!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2007
This CD is an accurate representation of an even better book --- Cloud's voice is easy to listen to as he makes points that are illuminating for anyone interested in understanding the application of the principles of living a complete life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The book was given me by a friend. After reading it, I bought 20 copies for our Father-Son group. What I most like is that he defines integriy not just as being moral, truth-telling, but as those essential characteristics to being successful, to realizing one's full potential. The ideas are great; the illustrations and examples good. It's a easy read of profound truths.

Harry Stachan 1/11/07
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 22, 2008
Henry Cloud, PH.D, executive consultant to over 500 corporations, provides insights on the correlation of integrity to leadership and life success in "Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality." Cloud uses his experience from over twenty years of working with people from all walks of life to highlight key "personal issues that keep some of them stuck and cause others to be amazing performers."

Cloud initially outlines the three essentials for success - competency, alliance building, and character. He points out that the people who possess the first two qualities are a "dime-a-dozen." But to truly make it, one must have the third ingredient. "They have to have character to not screw it up."

The book's core message centers on character and what Cloud details as "the character" that:

1. Creates and Maintains Trust
2. Is able to see and face reality
3. Works in a way that brings results
4. Embraces negative realities and solves them
5. Achieves transcendence and meaning in life

Cloud shows us "how these character traits supercede gifts, talents, and ability, and how the ones who have them succeed, and the ones who don't, ultimately fail. Integrity, he maintains, is critical to meet the rigors of our journey. Three areas that character will impact along the way include:

1. Our ability to reach to reach full potential and not getting stuck below our abilities.
2. Our ability to hit an obstacle but not letting it derail us.
3. Our ability to reach great success but not to self-destruct and lose it all.

This is not your run-of-the-mill "leadership literature or success principles, or about casting a vision, or how to become a change agent." Rather, "Integrity" provides insight and a path for personal improvement. As we are all imperfect humans with chinks in our armor, the path includes:

* Identifying personal "gaps" to work on.
* Learning how to accept ourselves.
* And resolving the gaps to avoid the traps lying in wait.

Cloud's "Integrity" provides a proven way to connect the dots showing us how integrity of character works everyday, "and how it affects our real results in areas of life which matter to us most - a way to more profits (business) and/or more faithful relationships (life).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2007
This is rare book in terms of solid theoretical insight into human behavior, coming essentially from Dr Cloud's extensive experience as a clinical psychologist combined with analysis and inference drawn from his consulting experience with business leaders and CEOs.

The introductory chapters however lack the punch and clarity on what the book is about does not emerge initially. This is perhaps because in my opinion, the approach and definition of the topic of integrity of character is radically new and takes some time to understand. The definition that integrity is much beyond and higher than just honesty and ethics and is about the courage to meet the demands of reality is difficult to comprehend at the beginning. Thereafter the book devotes one part each to the six dimensions of integrity - Establishing trust, Orientation toward reality, Getting results, Embracing the negative, Orientation toward increase and Orientation toward transcendence. Each of these facets as I like to call are like the sides of a hexagon; equally important to create the whole.

The depth of discussions of each of the six dimensions is accompanied by actual case studies and quotes from some of the best business books. In the part devoted to Establishing Trust, Dr Cloud narrates a situation in which a CEO completely fails to convince his people on the benefits of a merger. In fact the meeting intended to get the buy-in of the folks turns counter productive. The CEO was talking, but not communicating. He failed to empathize to some of the genuine concerns of the people thereby ending up alienating the team.

In the chapter `In touch with reality" Dr Cloud starts with the story of the CEO of a dog food company who obstinately tries all possible ways to increase the sales of the company's product except in finding out what his ultimate customers really want. When finally explained to the CEO by an employee "Sir... the dogs don't like it", reality finally dawns. Dogs bark, but reality bites!

In many chapters I found commonality in inferences to CEOs' achieving corporate results and to success of marriages. Perhaps this is a reflection of Dr Cloud's typical mix of clientele.

The six dimensions are well sequenced and are interrelated. Ignorance or failure of one dimension can lead to overall nonperformance explains Dr Cloud. The "gap" in a person who lacks the wholeness of character is bound to result in failure in three specific ways and to quote from the book (page 38):
1. Hitting performance ceiling that is much lower than ones aptitude
2. Hitting an obstacle or situation that derails you
3. Reaching great success only to self destruct and lose it all.

This book was presented to me by a colleague. While I thank him for the wonderful gift, trust me, I loved it and shall do my best to put it into practice to fill in my gaps.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2009
I was recently encouraged to read this book for an upcoming church leadership conference in May. It is one of the best books I've ever read on the topic of integrity and character.

If you are a pastor looking for a good solid read I'd high reccomend this one!
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