Notes on the Shackleton Leadership Program

From Margot Morrell...

To share the lessons of Shackleton’s leadership story most effectively with your group, please start by watching the 6-minute video with your group and the exercise outlined in Section 1.

The stories participants share during this exercise - Who Do You Know Personally -  will be powerful and memorable and will provide a rock-solid platform for the leadership program. Your participants’ heartwarming stories about great leaders will bring Shackleton’s story to life and connect it directly to life in the twenty-first century. 

You will want to use your group’s stories as valuable reference points throughout the Shackleton’s Way leadership program.

I cannot emphasize strongly enough how IMPORTANT it is to have people share stories about people they know personally. I emphasize this point based on hard-won experience with many groups over many years. 

Please do not let anyone say the leader they admire is Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill, for example. While we all agree they were great leaders, focusing on a historic figure, living or from long ago, changes the nature of the conversation from what the participant actually witnessed to attributes the participant is projecting on to that person. 

As people share stories of the leaders they admire, they will touch on the four attributes of Shackleton-style leadership:


  • Leading By Example

  • Communicating Effectively

  • Keeping Up Morale

  • Maintaining a Positive Attitude

Drawing Pads
Masking tape
Sticky Notes
Notebooks for students to organize their notes and keep for future reference.

Color-code responses for clarity or set up a separate page for each attribute.

Have participants jot down their observations from their stories on sticky notes and share them on note pads - one note pad paper on an easel or a page of paper taped to a wall for each leadership attribute.

Appoint an official notetaker for each session or exercise to capture and preserve the group’s insights. 

Build in plenty of time to take notes and transfer those notes from sticky notes and notepads into notebooks.

Finish with a debrief - what will you take-away and apply?

To learn more about Shackleton, the following books are highly recommended:

Alfred Lansing’s masterpiece, Endurance

Frank Worsley’s Shackleton’s Boat Journey

The six-minute video on the Shackleton’s Way home page is a wonderful, efficient, and accurate telling of Shackleton’s story.