by Caitlyn Graulau
On Feb. 28, Peggy Combs, a retired Major General of the United States Army, spoke to a room of over 30 guests about the importance of leadership and leadership training during Shenandoah University Leadership Academy’s inaugural Leadership Luncheon in the Brandt Student Center.
Shenandoah University Leadership Academy, or SULA, is an initiative from the Office of Student Leadership Development that came to fruition in the fall of 2021. Through leadership luncheons and networking events, they aim to develop a culture of reflective leaders grounded in civility, ethical decision-making, and service. SULA is directed by Dr. Fritz Polite, the associate vice president for student leadership development.
The Leadership Luncheon allows for participants to enjoy both a free meal and the teachings of a notable and outstanding leader. The February 28th luncheon is the first of many events, which will feature different speakers and opportunities to connect with professionals.
Major General Combs captured the audience’s attention by standing front and center behind the podium on the Ferrari Room stage. One of the key points of her address was how leadership could not be condensed into a formula, but if she tried, it would look like this: 4ApI=2SLT.
The equation explained what she said she believes can make a great leader. The four A’s stand for attitude, authenticity, awareness, and appreciation; the “p” stands for passion; the “I” stands for integrity, and the final phrase stands for “selfless servant leadership to the power of trust.” This leadership equation, said Major Combs, is meant to give the ability to inspire and motivate others.
“How do you motivate and inspire a team who doesn’t want to be there?” asked Nick Markovina, a freshman business administration major with a healthcare concentration and also the director of communications for the Student Government Association.
“There’s no boilerplate answer for how you do that,” Major General Combs responded during the Q&A portion of the luncheon. “Because each of those people are different… do like a diagnosis on what’s the issue.” She explained to Markovina and the audience that understanding the individual needs of your team will be, in her opinion, a step towards discovering how to motivate them.
Shenandoah students had to reserve their seats at the educational luncheon, which provided free meals including turkey sandwiches, potato salad, and lemon squares. Sodexo prepared the food for the event.
“I thought the food was good,” said Mykiah Bonhom, a junior esports management major attending the event. “Overall, my biggest takeaway from [the luncheon] was to be a great leader who is selfless and has lots of integrity.”