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August 24, 2017 Headline News, Training No Comments Email Email

Sir Ernest Shackleton – The Great Antarctic Explorer – A Leadership Model

I’m currently in middle of delivering leadership skills training for a group of leaders. I’m often asked, can the study of a great or at least effective leader produce learnable lessons – that can further result with application in the workplace?

Past or present, there are leaders that we can regard as models of Leadership worth studying. It differs from country to country but there are names that always surface in my seminars. For me it ranges from explorers or sportsmen to musical conductors. I like to use many analogies in my training work.

Since a 2001 visit to a large bookstore in Singapore and the purchase of the book, “Sir Ernest Shackleton: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer” – it has been Shackleton. I liked the book so much that I researched, developed and delivered a seminar based on his adventures. In fact I began to collect more information from other books on the expedition members, studied and explored material, the anecdotes, crew dairies, contemporary material, video and historic photos, and the interviews of some of today’s leaders. This leadership seminar became a world-first and I still deliver it around the world.  I use this entertaining multi-media adventure story to model leadership.

The book is a great read on exploration but at same time lessons that can be brought forward to business today. Shackleton resonates with executives in today’s business world. Educators, corporate executives, investment bankers, dot-com entrepreneurs, an astronaut, and many others are studying his skills. His people-centered approach to leadership can be a guide for anyone in a position of authority. Some of today’s leaders are successfully applying Shackleton’s methods to their own work situations.

In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton led twenty-seven men, for almost two years, through a harrowing fight for their lives after the wreck of their Antarctic vessel, Endurance, left them stranded on an ice floe twelve hundred miles from civilization. However, every man survived and every man ascribed it to Shackleton’s superb leadership. The multi-media seminar provides an insight into the extraordinary leadership of the great Antarctic explorer, during the Endurance Expedition to Antarctica in 1914 – 1916. His efforts to keep alive, maintain spirits and ultimately save his 27 men against all odds has brought him the accolade “the greatest leader ever – bar none”. Further, his hazardous and terrifying open boat journey of 800 miles in the 22-foot, “James Caird”, is called the greatest of all time. I think it is a great story and very importantly highlights Shackleton’s timeless leadership skills – which can learned by anyone.

Shackleton’s Way is a fascinating and practical case study of a leader who triumphed by putting people first and striving for the seemingly impossible. Twenty-eight ordinary-turned-extraordinary men, led by Shackleton’s example, survived nearly two years of unimaginable hardship at the end of the Earth. It is an inspirational tale about unleashing strengths in individuals that they never knew they had in order to achieve goals.

Being a leader means developing yourself. You need to be strong and resourceful in order to make the journey, as the destination is never actually reached. As you become a leader, you find resources in yourself you did not know you had. You work your way into the forefront of a new field. You become more yourself, because a leader’s influence comes from who you are, what you do, and the examples you set.

What was it that enabled Shackleton and his teammates to overcome extreme adversity and return without loss of life? I’m convinced that the safe return of Shackleton’s expedition can be attributed to much more than luck. I believe that the leadership strategies that enabled Shackleton’s crew to triumph can be found in a set of principles common to many other stories of survival. I also believe that these strategies can be used by leaders in any organization facing today’s unprecedented levels of turbulence, ambiguity, and uncertainty.

Building espirt de corps and leading by example in order to get the most from each individual and developing them at the same time. Leadership also develops oneself in areas of communication, understanding others, appreciating differences and gaining from them, developing rapport with your people and influencing others. Sir Ernest Shackleton led by example and used informal one-on -one talks to build a bond with his man. He inspired optimism, and at same time worked to keep spirits high in the team, especially in times of crisis. It is also a story of team building, planning, communication, motivation, decision-making, etc.

See my site for more information. http://www.colestraining.com/the-shackleton-way/

Richard Coles, Owner of Coles International Training & Consulting researches, develops and delivers real world learning and organizational solutions to clients’ needs and problems around the world. One area of specialization is Customer Service and leadership initiatives. Richard was in the airline business for over 30 years in prominent roles and worked for the best, KLM, Qantas and Emirates, so understands the travel industry well. To discuss your training needs, challenges, goals and strategy, visit www.colestraining.com and email Richard on: colestraining@gmail.com.

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