Leadership in the Crucible of Work by Sandy Shugart
Discovering the interior life of an authentic leader
In this 233 page book, Shugart takes a different approach to many other leadership authors. “Leadership in the Crucible of Work” neatly houses a collection of essays with thought provoking reflections and questions, all from a real journey of leadership.
Who is the author Sandy Shugart?
According to the publishers site, Sanford C. “Sandy” Shugart, PhD, stumbled into senior leadership at a very early age and found himself “in the deep end, with sharks.” As vice president of a billion-dollar higher education system and twenty years the junior of any of his colleagues and staff, he was compelled to learn to lead in a hurry. What he discovered was a powerful interaction between the challenges of his work as a leader and the formation of his character.
In the slip cover of the book he is listed as being the president of Valencia College – inaugural winner of the Aspen Prize for Excellence. His leadership journey taking him to being president of two large colleges, being a visiting scholar at Oxford University, as speaking widely around the US and Europe on leadership.
Abstract of the book
“For leaders living in an imperfect, broken world, work turns out to be a kind of crucible. A place where they experience the heat, pressure, and corrosion of elevated responsibility. For most of us, the crucible of work is unavoidable. So the question becomes, how do we endure the crucible without being hopelessly deformed by it? Or, how can we use the crucible to form us into a more valuable and authentic leader? In Leadership in the Crucible of Work: Discovering the Interior Life of an Authentic Leader, Dr. Shugart shares insights from his 30 years of experience as a leader, including his service as the president of Valencia College–inaugural winner of the Aspen Prize for Excellence. Avoiding the latest leadership gimmicks and fads, Leadership in the Crucible of Work will guide you on an inward journey to discover how to do the interior work that leads to becoming an authentic leader”
The book is broken into the following chapters:
• Formed by work – Forming the work
• Listening – Not Listening
• Getting a grip – Letting Go
• Failure – Forgiveness
• Being Detached – Being Connected
• Despair – hope
• Confronting Evil – Doing Good
Quotes & Thoughts
Each chapter contains a number of relevant quotes and thoughts. These quotes help to guide the reader through the journey that the author is creating for us. Some of these such as “Persistent Myth: If we can just get the right leader, all will be well” are perhaps obvious, others cause the reader to think a little deeper. I will not repeat them here and I don’t wish to spoil the journey for you when you read this. Throughout the publication are poems which help to build our reflections and understanding, an unusual, but welcome addition to a leadership book.
Not all Theories and Fads
One of the refreshing points on the book by Schugart, is that unlike many other so called academics, this is not a piece about the latest fad or theory. It is not a “How to” book like a badly designed “painting by numbers” leadership guide.
But a considered reflection on what happened, and the learnings of an experienced leader. Of course all id not perfect in the world of this author, but what comes through in the writing is a level of authenticity and honesty not often seen in books by other writers.
CPD or Learning Journals
The world of Human resources often encourages us as professionals to maintain a learning log or journal to allow reflective thinking and learning. This appears to be an excellent example of where the author has done just that. Taken notes of when things went well, and did not go so well. Reflected on the actions, behaviours and outcomes, and has shared them with us.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone on their own leadership journey, there are some valuable lessons for those that are brave enough to realise their own leadership style is not perfect!
Buy the book on Amazon: