(2 minute read)

Nearing the end of the Heroic Age of Exploration in 1914, Captain Ernest Shackleton lead a crew of 27 skilled and intrepid explorers to the Antarctic in a quest to be the first team to trek across the Antarctic continent.

Despite all their planning and best efforts, their ship, The Endurance, became stuck in the ice, forcing the entire expedition party to spend the winter of 1915 on the icy shores of Elephant Island on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Shackleton’s leadership throughout this 15-month ordeal, resulted in him coordinating a 750-mile journey in a 27-foot longboat, to locate a tiny island in the Southern Ocean (South Georgia Island) where he secured the services of a Chilean whaling captain to assist him in the rescue of the remainder of his crew, still trapped in Antarctica.

To the cheers of his men as the boat appeared in the small harbour where they were sheltering, Shackleton secured the safety of all 27 men, returning them all to their homeland of England.

On 13th January 2012 – almost 100 years after Shackleton’s expedition – the seven-year-old vessel Costa Concordia was on the first leg of a cruise around the Mediterranean Sea when she deviated from her planned route, sailing perilously close to the island of Isola del Giglio, and struck a rock formation on the sea floor. This caused the ship to tip and then to partially sink. 33 people died. An investigation focused on the procedures followed by Costa Concordia‘s crew and the actions of her captain, Francesco Schettino, who had unbelievably departed the ship prematurely. He left about 300 passengers on board the sinking vessel, most of whom were rescued by helicopter or motorboats in the area.

There are various models and styles of leadership which we can learn from and adopt where/when required.

Shackleton’s leadership style is often quoted as one of those models – Situational Leadership.

Schettino is never quoted. Abandonment has never been the trait of any effective leader.

Despite the title, not all Captains are Leaders!

  1. David M Kamara 3 weeks ago

    Brilliant illustrates the point and differences of leadership and styles!

    • Author
      Greig Ward 3 weeks ago

      Thanks David.

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