Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
Alfred Lansing in1959 wrote Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. This is a true story about Ernest Shackleton a polar explorer who was eager to cross the Antarctic Continent overland from west to east (Lansing). Shackleton recruited 27 men to venture on this expedition with him from artist to engineers to surgeons; Shackleton handpicked his men based upon the previous experiences of these men at sea. As Shackleton and his men set out for this voyage, Shackleton later learned that he had one extra man on board (a stowaway). There were a total of 28 men including Shackleton on the Endurance. This voyage was not going to be easy, as it had never been done before; it was going to be a very challenging voyage getting across the “Weddell Sea”. The crew had succumbed to many challenges given the weather conditions of the Weddell Sea. Endurance became trapped in pack ice forcing the crew to “winter on board the ship” (Lansing). Ultimately, the crew was forced to abandon ship because the pressures of the pack ice became so intense. The pack ice ultimately destroyed the Endurance, leaving Shackleton and his men and all of their belongings on a floe including 55 of the 69 dogs they brought on board. Shackleton and his men had one more mission left, to survive!
Shackleton displayed characteristics of a great leader. He was Achievement-oriented, as well as a strategic leader. After everything that occurred on this voyage, Shackleton was always both confident and resilient. He was also very equal to his men he had a service mentality he considered the best interest of the group and consistently displayed his concern for his men, their safety, and their well being including their morale. Shackleton never gave up hope and he never once gave his men false hope he was honest and extremely optimistic. Lansing quotes one of Shackleton’s men who described Shackleton as “the greatest leader that ever came on God’s earth bar none” (Lansing).
Shackleton set out on a very challenging task; his goal was to conquer what no man had ever conquered before, crossing the Antarctic Continent. Shackleton was very Achievement-oriented; he handpicked his team to take on this challenging voyage with him. Although, the voyage did not go as planned, Shackleton still had one more thing to achieve, to keep his men alive. Shackleton led his men for many months through dangerous weather conditions attempting to reach an island in which they would wait around for whaler season. Once reaching this island Shackleton recognizes that there may not be enough food to carry them out through Whale season, so Shackleton sets out with five of his men on one of three lifeboats to South Georgia 800 miles away. Ultimately going back and rescuing the other 22 men he left behind on Elephant Island.
Shackleton’s Achievement-oriented style demonstrated one of the strongest qualities of his leadership; Shackleton demonstrated an enormous amount of resilience, there were many times where he could have given up hope, but he never once did. This determination to achieve his goal in keeping his men alive definitely impacted all 27 men positively. Shackleton’s men never gave up hope, if at any point in time Shackleton would have ever given up hope the men would have also found themselves hopeless.
Shackleton was also very strategic in his leadership; Shackleton was very resourceful in the survival of his men. Shackleton was never in denial, he was more often than not two steps ahead. For instance when he knew there was no more hope for the Endurance he had his men abandon ship. He directed the men to get all valuables off of the ship and they set up camp on a floe, after the Endurance was completely lost, he advised his men that they would have to trek 346 miles to the nearest island, the 55 dogs that were still alive and healthy would assist the crew in towing the 3...
Bibliography: Lansing, Alfred. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1959.
Van Wart, Montgomery, Dynamics of Leadership in Public Service: Theory and Practice, M.E. Sharpe, 2011.
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