President Shugart Shares the Power of Listening at East Campus CSA Meeting

ec-csa-0414-collage-groveBy Shalini Sealey, Business Office Specialist and Co-chair, East Campus CSA

At its monthly meeting on Thursday, April 22, 2014, the East Campus Career Staff Association (CSA) welcomed  a special guest speaker, Valencia College President Dr. Sandy Shugart. The roundtable discussion focused on the “Listening” chapter of Dr. Shugart’s book, “Leadership in the Crucible of Work: Discovering the Interior Life of an Authentic Leader.”

To initiate the discussion, it was asked three key questions: How do you currently communicate? What is your style? Is it working for you?

Thoughtful discussions ensued as four groups of four-to-five people huddled to ponder these questions amongst themselves. Most participants shared that they preferred verbal and written communication. It was noted that verbal communication allows for ideas to be articulated and that communication styles are largely based on situational and cultural factors. Many agreed that there is a difference between how they communicate with friends and family and with those in a professional context when more technical, formal language is used.

Thereafter, Dr. Shugart shared his story. We were surprised to learn that he did not plan to be a leader. He shared how he grew up in a home filled with music where he acquired a love for books and music, and it was in that environment that he found it easy to listen.

“Listen carefully and learn a lot,” was his central message. “Listening is important to help make smart and better decisions. When you are heard, you feel alive,” he said and cautioned to “never neglect the story, as personal stories knit us together.”

In explaining the title of his book, Dr. Shugart talked about the “crucible” being a place that can either destroy you or change you completely.

“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,” he said. “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?”

Ultimately, he concluded that we can do great work that nourishes others and ourselves instead of depleting us.

In addition to Dr. Shurgart, Rachel Allen, professor of humanities and coordinator of the Peace and Justice Initiative (PJI), attended as part of East Campus CSA’s effort to help promote the PJI and shared the “Principles for How We Treat Each Other” with attendees.

CSA meetings are generally held the last Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m., with the exception of August and December. For more information on your East Campus CSA including your leaders, click here.

If interested in joining, contact Adrian Aleem at aaleem@valenciacollege.edu or at extension 2183.

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