10 Lessons in Leadership from Shackleton

10 Lessons in Leadership from Shackleton

1. Never lose sight of the ultimate goal.
2. Set a personal example with visible, memorable symbols and behaviors.
3. Instill optimism and self-confidence but stay grounded in reality.
4. Take care of yourself (Maintain your stamina and let go of your guilt).
5. Reinforce the team message constantly (We are one – we succeed or fail together).
6. Minimize status differences, insist on courtesy and mutual respect.
7. Master conflict – don’t be afraid of crucial conversations, deal with anger in small
doses, engage dissidents, and avoid needless power struggles.
8. Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about.
9. Be willing to take risks.
10. Never give up.

On the 14th of December 1911, only five weeks ahead of Robert Falcon Scott, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and four teammates became the first men to reach the South Pole. The Amundsen crew would return safely to its base, but, heartbreakingly, Scott and his four British companions died on the return journey.
The race to the pole has long attracted leadership experts, who like to contrast the Amundsen focus on efficiency and innovation with Scott’s more deliberate dedication to scientific pursuit.
But another polar explorer — Ernest Shackleton — faced harsh conditions in a way that speaks more directly to our time. The Shackleton expedition, from 1914 to 1916, is a compelling story of leadership when disaster strikes again and again.
Real leaders, wrote the novelist David Foster Wallace, are people who “help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.”
Shackleton exemplified this kind of leadership for almost two years on the ice. What can we learn from his actions?
(Excerpted from a Nancy F. Koehn, NYT Essay, Dec. 24, 2011)

Author information: Ian Johnson

As a manager, chief executive, owner operator and consultant, Ian has actively participated in exploring every opportunity to exceed the expectation of the visitor.
All of this hands-on business experience has led to a passion for interpretation, storytelling and cultural communication.
How do we make our visitors: Love what we love just as much as we do? Have our passion matter as much to them as it does to us?
And be inspired to care about what we care about? Ian has most recently been training lecturers and guides in the polar regions, has tertiary qualifications in Adult Education, Graphic Design and Sports Coaching, and is the licensed owner of the TORE™ Interpretive methodology in New Zealand.

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