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Shackleton's Way:Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
Shackleton's Way : Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer (with a Preface by The Honourable Alexandra Shackleton)
Margot Morrell and Stephanie CapparellNicholas Brealey PublishingISBN: 0670891967£14.99Keywords: Leadership, Management styles
In 1914 Sir Ernest Shackleton led 27 men, for almost two years, through a harrowing fight for their lives after the wreck of the Antarctic vessel, Endurance, left them stranded on an ice floe 1,200 miles from civilisation. Every man survived, and every man ascribed it to Shackleton's superb leadership.
Now, in Shackleton's Way, Shackleton scholar Margot Morrell and Wall Street Journal writer Stephanie Capparell present Shackleton's leadership as a kind of inspirational handbook for a new generation of leaders. The authors claim that there are significant lessons to be gleaned from Shackleton's work, lessons that are being applied in today's world by business people and other leaders who didn't have to go to the ends of the earth to find the Endurance spirit.
For example, TheStreet.com co-founder James Cramer credits the explorer's story with pushing him to achieve success when others told him to give up his fledgling business; similarly, Jeremy Larken of Octo Ltd. in Chester has adapted Shackleton's survival strategies to the management of modern-day business disasters.
Shackleton's Way shows how Shackleton's strategy separated him from less-successful and less-admired expedition leaders, and brought him the unfailing loyalty of his men. He had to develop and unify a staff despite various backgrounds and abilities, and then organise limited resources, and make individuals feel valued and inspired to do their best.
The book draws on these lessons to demonstrate how to handle crises, particularly how to break bad news, bolster morale, and quickly change course in the face of the unexpected. Shackelton's example also shows the importance of injecting humour into a situation, how to bond with staff without losing status as the boss, and when to nurture. His story is, in its essence, an inspirational tale about unleashing personal strengths you never knew you had in order to achieve goals, from the small to the miraculous.
Shackleton's wisdom is by no means simple or obvious. Much of it is counter-intuitive, especially for those schooled in more conventional management tactics. Shackleton served tea in bed to the ship's crybaby, flattered the egomaniacs, and kept close to him the most abrasive personalities. Often, he made great personal sacrifices. Sometimes he led by not leading at all.
Shackleton made his men want to follow him, he did not force them to do so. In the process, he changed the way his crewmen saw themselves and the world. His tools were humour, generosity, intelligence, strength, and compassion.