Shackleton’s Leadership, One Century Later

The recent article posted in the Training Journal speaks to Ernest Shackleton’s continued staying power as a leader that many of us can, and probably should, emulate and model. ( During his Endurance expedition of 1914-1916, Shackleton and his crew of 27 were stranded on an ice flow following the loss of their ship to the pack ice of the Antarctic. “The Boss”, as he was fondly called, immediately reorganized his team’s resources, set new goals, and clearly articulated a strategy for achieving those goals. Part of that strategy was creating an environment of shared decision-making, and inspiring his team to be creative and fearless in their problem-solving. Because the environmental conditions and the level of pressure was constantly changing, Shackleton himself remained flexible and optimistic, and encouraged his team to do the same. He celebrated achievement daily, and challenged his team to push themselves to even greater heights despite increasing odds and relentless pressure. By the time he and his team returned safely home, Shackleton and his team “had touched the soul of man”. Shackleton’s extraordinary yet humble leadership style enabled him to navigate safely through the most hostile of environments and through impossible odds. His philosophy of shared, equal high status for all galvanized his team and bonded them in such a way that when Shackleton announced his intended return to the Antarctic in 1921, nearly every member of his team volunteered to go. The story of Shackleton’s bold, transformational leadership is told in a remarkable leadership presentation called “The Shackleton Experience” (, where executive and high-potential students can model for themselves the competencies and strategies that made Sir Ernest Shackleton a timeless leader, and an inspiring figure, one hundred years following the moment that defined him.BP_ip_038

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