In a previous post, I referenced Henry Cloud’s book, The Power of the Other. Cloud presented an intriguing case for connecting as the essence of leadership. He asks leaders to evaluate their leadership connections in terms of four grids: 1) disconnected; 2) in a bad connection; 3) in a pseudo-connection; or 4) truly connected to others.
Leaders in the first grid (disconnected) are frustrating. Cloud suggests followers often feel unheard, misunderstood, and unable to have an impact. In the second grid, Cloud describes what he calls the bad connection. It is not necessarily a connection with a bad or abusive person, though this does happen. It is a pull towards a person that makes one feel not good enough, defective, or inadequate.
The third grid describes a falsely connected leader, although the leader is unaware. As Cloud explains “no one wants to feel isolated, alone, or inadequate”. Therefore, the pseudo-connected leader looks for something to bring him the good feelings. Often this can be addictive behaviors, but more commonly the pseudo-connect or latches on to “good news”, for instance. The pseudo-connected leader wants to hear good news only. They surround themselves with staff and executives who tell them what they want to hear. Rarely is there ever a challenge, it is the beauty and the beast line all over again, “Gaston, you are the greatest!” Flattery becomes a drug that ends up shielding this leader from reality.
Every time there is a failure or setback, this leader comes up with another glitzy new strategy or campaign. Those around this leader begin to panic as the pseudo-connected leader tries to drum up more good news. The staff protect the leader from reality. There appears to be community, but on limited terms.
Cloud suggest these leaders end up chasing celebrity connections to fuel their need for positive acknowledgement. The need for self-fulfillment becomes more important than their teams and the real work.
What all three grids need is the realization that true leadership and success comes by working with and needing others. However, the purpose is not to build their kingdom. We need others to become all that they can be. Disconnections, bad-connections, and pseudo-connections are all escapes from true relationship.
Christianity reveals a God that is more than a sovereign deity with supreme power. The God Christ reveals desires true connection.
Is there someone you know today who needs real connection? What might you do to model it to another?
Dennis Nichols is the Lead-Faculty for the Master of Arts in Leadership degree at William Jessup University.