Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition

Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition

Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition

Leading at the Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition

Synopsis

Part adventure story, part leadership guide, this intriguing book examines Shackleton's legendary Antarctic expedition through the lens of business--to reveal a set of powerful strategies for corporate leaders.

In the chronicles of extraordinary adventures and against-the-odds survival, nothing compares to the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team of South Pole explorers. Stranded in the frozen sea for nearly two years, they endured extreme temperatures, hazardous ice, dwindling food, complete isolation, and perpetual blackness.

Yet, despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the group remained cohesive, congenial, and mercifully alive--a fact that speaks not just to luck but to an unparalleled feat in leadership.

Now, for the first time ever, Leading at the Edge draws on this amazing story to reveal the power of effective organizational leadership under conditions of uncertainty, ambiguity, and rapid change. The book uncovers 10 lessons-- complete with stirring examples from the Shackleton expedition, as well as contemporary business case studies of the strategies in action--on what it takes to be a great leader. Readers learn how to:

• Set a personal example with vivid symbols and behaviors

• Instill optimism while staying grounded in reality

• Reinforce the team message constantly

• Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about

• Have the courage to take big risks, and more.

For managers and executives who feel stressed out or stretched thin, these memorable strategies will help bring order to chaos--and success in the face of the most daunting adversity.

Excerpt

On August 3, 1913, a Canadian expedition led by Vilhjalmur Stefansson set out to explore the frozen Arctic, between the northernmost shores of Canada and the North Pole. On December 5, 1914, the British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, sailed from the island of South Georgia in the Southern Ocean. Its goal was the first overland crossing of Antarctica.

Both ships, the Karluk in the north and the Endurance in the south, soon found themselves beset in solid pack ice. Trapped by the ice, each crew was soon engaged in a fight for survival. But the outcomes of these two adventures—and the ways in which the two leaders dealt with the obstacles they faced—were as far apart as the poles each leader set out to explore.

In the north, the crew of the Karluk found themselves transformed in the months that followed into a band of self-interested, disparate individuals. Lying, cheating, and stealing became common behaviors. the disintegration of the team had tragic consequences for its eleven members who died in the Arctic wasteland.

In the frozen south, the story of the Endurance could not have been more different. Shackleton’s expedition faced the same problems of ice, cold, and shortages of food and supplies. the response of his crew to these hellish conditions, however, was in almost every respect the obverse of those of the Karluk’s crew. Teamwork, self-sacrifice, and astonishing good cheer replaced lying, cheating, and rapacious self-interest. It was as if the Endurance existed not just in a different polar region, but in a different, contrary, parallel universe.

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