Leadership in the Crucible of Work – A Book Review
Leadership in the Crucible of Work: Discovering the Interior Life of an Authentic Leader is a collection of essays that present to the readers thoughtful stories and serious important questions about work, leadership and self. With a background in chemistry, it was important for the author to use the word crucible in the title, which is a metaphor for a place where people experience intense heat and pressure, and sometimes corrosion while performing their responsibilities. In project management, it is a situation that many professionals are familiar with. However, the book offers much more insights to help the reader take a journey within and discover the questions, attitudes, and available guidance to becoming an authentic leader.
This first hardcover edition was published by Florida Hospital Publishing on December 2, 2014. It contains 240 pages and is about 1.1 inches thick. The front cover shows the title from the top to more than half of the front and an illustration of a crucible on fire below it. It is followed by the subtitle and the author’s name on a background of light pink. ISBN-10: 0983988196; ISBN-13: 978-0983988199
Leadership in the Crucible of Work is ideal for working people in leadership and management positions. This is great for project managers and team leaders. However, it can be appreciated by most who have worked or are working, no matter what role, position or industry they are in. This will especially appeal to those who have questions on who they are becoming because of work or how to be someone better in their work.
What Customers Say
An Amazon reviewer described it as a great leadership book unlike others. The content was provocative, making the reader ask questions like what makes a person a good or bad leader. The author wrote plainly deep thoughts and perspectives that became easy to understand.
Goodreads readers gave it an average 3.75 out of 5 stars, with several members marking it as a “to-read.”
Content, Approach, Style
Leadership in the Crucible of Work contains a prelude, 14 chapters that are somewhat paired in topic, and a postlude. The prelude titled In the Crucible, which was the original title, gave a background of the author and how the book came to be. The next chapters are paired topics such as Formed by Work, Forming the Work, Listening, Not Listening, Getting a Grip, Letting Go, and so on.
The author made it clear that the book is not a leadership manual or how-to book. Rather, it is a collection of essays on subjects that were discussed during public speaking and private mentoring. It invites the readers to think, reflect and initiate an internal conversation with oneself. The book is composed of paragraphs that are easy to read, with language that is simple and direct. Important sentence or phrases are italicized. Section breaks with the familiar crucible image indicate divisions for new topics or change in perspective.
Why Buy the Book
Project managers, by default, are in leadership positions. The elevated responsibilities they have as well the intense pressure they frequently face are sure to affect them. Sometimes, the effect of this kind of work is not what they hope to be. Leadership in the Crucible of Work is a unique reference to help the professional gain some insight on how work may be forming them, how to get back to the core principles that made them want to be project leaders in the first place, and how they can use the opportunities provided by work to transform themselves and others to be better and truer to self.
Books that Complement
Berkun’s Making Things Happen is another collection of essays that provide insights about project management and leadership.
No More Excuses by Silverstein is a book also about helping people realize where they are and get to where they want to be through accountability.
Dr. Sanford “Sandy” Shugart received most of his formal education from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. In 1978, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Science Teaching with a concentration in chemistry. Then he finished his Master of Arts in Teaching. In 1989, he received a Ph.D in education with an emphasis on curriculum and instruction. Dr. Shugart has been teaching since 1978 in schools and universities, and has advanced to senior leadership positions over the years. He became president of North Harris College in Texas in 1991, and then the current president of Valencia Community College in Florida since 2000. He has been invited to speak about leadership issues in several countries and holds a visiting scholar’s chair in Oxford University. Dr. Shugart is also a poet and a singer/songwriter.