The introduction to Henry Cloud’s book The Power of the Other states, “Most leadership coaching focuses on helping leaders build their skills and knowledge and close their performance gaps.”

Cloud proposes something else. Based on the most recent studies in neuroscience, he suggests it is personal and professional relationships that fuel growth and help leaders surpass limits.

In recent posts, I reviewed Cloud’s four corners of true connection. The first three are not really connections at all, more like pseudo-connections; disconnected, a bad connection, false connection. We all know what they look like.

In contrast, real connection begins with our need. That is, we acknowledge we need connection just as we need water, oxygen, and food. We embrace them because we die without them. The same is true with relationships. “Real relationships surface when you can be your whole self, the real authentic you, a relationship in which you can bring your heart, mind, soul, and passion.”

Cloud says this takes mutual giving and receiving.  Both parties are wholly present, known, understood, and mutually invested. In other words, what each person needs, thinks, feels, believes, fears, and needs is safely shared.

There are so many other issues that frame a truly connected relationship, like comradery, accountability, feedback, and mutual respect. For an organization to have a high-connection culture among its employees, it takes an atmosphere of trust for these elements to flourish at all levels.

Furthermore, we need rules for the road, so


to speak; a way of operating that lays the framework for healthy connections. Here are a few rules I wrote out for myself as an aspiring corner-four connector:

  1. People matter most. I will bring my whole self to every relationship, no hiding or posturing.
  2. Accountability and grace. I will give to others what I want for myself.
  3. No sabotaging others. Give feedback with respect but say all that needs saying.
  4. Always listen to others’ ideas. Love their ideas for at least five minutes or maybe 45 seconds.

My guess is we all want corner-four relationships, but honestly, we have reservations. How can I be sure that I will get back what I am giving out to others? Well, the short answer is, you cannot be sure. I challenge you to do it anyway.

Be the kind of leader you would like to follow. Not only does this honor our Lord, but it makes for a good life too. Can you think of someone who needs a true connection today?


Dennis Nichols is the Lead Faculty for the Master of Arts in Leadership degree at William Jessup University and teaches in the School of Christian Leadership