Leadership Practices from two years of Survival in the Antarctic you can use Today

I began listening to Ernest Shackleton’s story of heroic survival and was delighted to find the first chapter boring. It was the perfect sleeping pill. But the story became so exciting that it eventually kept me awake.

The Endurance crushed in Antarctic ice.

Never let a crisis distract you from the well-being of your crew.

Ernest Shackleton left England for the Antarctic on August 8, 1914. On August 22, 1916, he finally rescued twenty-two men he had left marooned on Elephant Island. They had lost their ship, the Endurance, to the ice on October 27, 1915.

The events of those 24 months and 22 days reveal one of the greatest stories of leadership and survival you will ever read.

3 leadership practices you can use today:

#1. Notice people.

Shackleton never let a crisis distract him from noticing the well-being of his crew. Leaders who focus on problems tend to neglect people.

#2. Maintain rituals.

Rituals provide stability during uncertainty. Do a few things at the same time everyday and in the same way.

#3. Enjoy something.

When they began trekking across the ocean icepack, each man’s personal items could weigh no more than two pounds – except the nine-pound banjo of the meteorologist.

10 leadership strategies from Shackleton explained by Dennis Perkins:

  1. Never lose sight of the ultimate goal, and focus energy on short-term objectives.
  2. Set a personal example with visible, and 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 guilt.
  5. Reinforce the team message constantly: “We are one – we live or die together.”
  6. Minimize status differences and insist on courtesy and mutual respect.
  7. Master conflict – 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 the Big Risk.
  10. Never give up – there’s always a better way.

Which leadership practice is most applicable to you today?

Image source

Bonus resources:

South (Shackleton’s Last Expedition): Illustrated 100th Anniversary Edition: Shackleton, Ernest: 9781952433542: Amazon.com: Books

Shackleton Hoosh – YouTube

Five Elements of Shackleton’s Leadership

Leadership Lessons From the Shackleton Expedition – The New York Times (nytimes.com)