For Book Club discussions...

1. Share an example of someone you know personally that you consider a great leader? What is it about that person that you admire? Please focus on leaders you know personally rather than leaders you know through news reports or historic examples.

For example, this might bring to mind a parent, grandparent, teacher, or coach. 

2. Shackleton led by example. For example, when Shackleton and Worsley and Crean were crossing South Georgia, Shackleton allowed Worsley and Crean to sleep while he stood watch.


Share an example of someone you have seen lead by example?

3. Shackleton communicated effectively with his team. He kept the lines of communication open. At every crisis, he called everyone together so they would hear about the situation directly from him.


What impact might occasional brief, straightforward messages directly from the leader have on your team?



4. Forty years after the Endurance expedition, a crew member recalled the Boss was “very friendly and easy to talk to.” Everyone had a personal connection with Shackleton. One crew member said, that was the “secret to our unanimity.”


What strategies do you use to keep the lines of communication open with your team?

5. Shackleton worked hard to keep up morale. A tent mate recalled, “He probably never made any deliberately planned steps to this end.  His methods were much more subtle & persuasive than this.  He was constantly on the watch for any break in morale, or any discontent, so that he could deal with it at once.  He realized fully the enormous and almost instantaneous effect of food on the morale, and took all kinds of trouble to vary the ration or try some new way of cooking things, to issue a little tit-bit to commemorate something, a birthday for example, or some other anniversary.  I spent 6 months in the same tent with him, and I know better than most how ceaseless was his thought for this kind of thing. His method was really the constant application of small corrections, unnoticed by nearly everyone, yet very potent in their cumulative effect.


What strategies could you use to keep up the morale of your team?

6. A crew member said of Shackleton, “Of course the thing I liked most about him was that his first thought was for the men under him.  He didn't care if he went without a shirt on his own back so long as the men he was leading had sufficient clothing.  He was a wonderful man that way; you felt that the party mattered more than anything else.” 


When Hurley lost his gloves on the boat journey to Elephant, Shackleton tore off his own gloves and forced them on Hurley.


Have you known a leader like that?


What might be the business world equivalent of that action?

7. In Shackleton’s account of the Endurance expedition, he wrote, “A man must shape himself to a new mark directly the old one goes to ground.”


How might this apply in business today?



8. Shackleton once observed, “I have often marveled at the thin line which separates success from failure.”


How might this apply in your business life?


As a precept, does it encourage you to keep going in the face of challenges?

9. Throughout tremendous difficulties, Shackleton maintained a positive attitude. He was once invited to address a school, he couldn’t go but he responded, “The only message I can think of for your boys is: in trouble, danger and disappointment never give up hope. The worst always can be got over.”


What strategies can you use to maintain a positive attitude and drive positive outcomes in your business life?



10. Shackleton once said, ““Difficulties are just things to overcome.”


What strategies could you use to overcome difficulties?

11. Shackleton’s Endurance expedition is an example of doing the impossible. How do you think he did that?


What strategies could you use to keep yourself mentally fit and able to take on any challenge?

12. Suggestion: Brainstorm strategies with colleagues in your business for:

  • Leading by example

  • Communicating effectively

  • Keeping up morale

  • Maintaining a positive attitude

© 2019 Margot Morrell

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