Shackleton on Leadership - being the fellow other fellows follow!

On the 90th anniversary of Shackleton’s death at the start of January I blogged a little taster of his story – it can be summed up by the words, ‘glorious failure’.
However, as an inspirational leader of men, Shackleton was a success in every way. His leadership methods, unorthodox and frowned upon in his day, were probably the difference between life and death for most of his men.

Over the last week or so I’ve been reading Shackleton’s Way – Leadership Lessons from the Great Arctic Explorer by Margot Morrell . This interesting account, gives some of Shackleton’s own thoughts on leadership. If you know anything of his incredible adventures, these quotes will leave you in awe of his leadership capacity and drawn into the personal battles and unceasing daily pressures which lay behind the legend:

‘There are lots of good things in the world, but I’m not sure that comradeship is not the best of them all – to know that you can do something big for another chap.’

‘Optimism is true moral courage.’

‘Leadership is a fine thing, but it has it’s penalties. And the greatest penalty is lonliness.’

‘A man must shape himself to a new mark directly the old one goes to ground.’

‘The loyalty of your men is a sacred trust you carry. It is something which must never be betrayed, something you must live up to.’

‘I have often marvelled at the thin line which separates success from failure.’

‘You often have to hide from them not only the truth, but your feelings about the truth. You may know that the facts are dead against you, but you mustn’t say so.’

‘If you’re a leader, a fellow that other fellows look to, you’ve got to keep going.’

To use the language of Shackleton – Maybe you are the kind of fellow who aspires to lead other chaps in a great adventures? If so, you could do a lot worse than to get yourself a copy of his biography or Morrell’s book and learn some lessons from the great man himself.


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