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Leading at The Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition Paperback – March 28, 2012

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Leading at The Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition + The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All + Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: AMACOM; Second Edition edition (March 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814431941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814431948
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"After having read a dozen or two leadership books over the past decade, this book stands out...The author does an exceptional job…” --Suite101

“…interpretation of Shackleton’s strategies is relatable to today’s leaders showing that leadership skills transcend time.” --Yahoo Voices

"The lessons are powerful, the real world examples revealing and the book worthy of much discussion and thought." --Hike Bike and Travel

“… tells the story of survival, and along the way points out how Shackleton's leadership made a difference.This is what makes this book such a compelling read.” --Mindconnection

“…succeeds in crafting a true leadership guide for the 21st century.” --Risk Mangement magazine

“The lessons are not just about leadership, but about life, persistence and the extraordinary resilience.” --A Slice of Leadership

“…book will change the way you think about and approach leadership in a crisis situation…” --Blog Business World

"… there are many leadership lessons to be learned from Shackleton’s amazing adventure.”--ABA Banking Journal

Book Description

Stranded in the frozen Antarctic sea for nearly two years, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team of 27 polar explorers endured extreme temperatures, hazardous ice, dwindling food, and complete isolation. Despite these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the group remained cohesive, congenial, and mercifully alive—a fact that speaks not just to luck but to an unparalleled feat of leadership.

Drawing on this amazing story, Leading at The Edge demonstrates the importance of a strong leader in times of adversity, uncertainty, and change. The book reveals 10 timeless leadership lessons that show readers how to:

• Instill optimism while staying grounded in reality

• Have the courage to step up to risks worth taking

• Consistently reinforce the team message

• Set a personal example

• Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about

• Never give up

Part adventure tale, part leadership guide, the second edition features additional lessons, new case studies of the strategies in action, tools to uncover and resolve conflicts, and expanded resources. An updated epilogue compares the leadership styles of the famous polar explorers Shackleton, Amundsen, and Scott.

Today’s leaders have much to learn from this gripping account of survival against all odds. Leading at The Edge will help them bring order to chaos—and achieve success in the face of adversity.

Customer Reviews

I found his style and wit so easy to read and yet remember the points being made.
This is a good book that combines a good mix of telling the Shackleton story along with practical leadership insights.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, whether or not you are involved in business management.
Andrew J. Riemer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most exciting books I have read in recent years. In collaboration with others, Perkins briefly reviews the key details of the "Shackleton Saga" before shifting his attention (in Part One) to ten leadership strategies which, he correctly suggests, have direct, indeed compelling relevance to the contemporary business world. They are:
1. Never lose sight of the ultimate goal, and focus energy on short-term objectives.
2. Set a personal example with visible, memorable symbols and behavior.
3. Instill optimism and self-confidence, but stay grounded in reality.
4. Take care of yourself: Maintain your stamina and let go of guilt.
5. Reinforce the team message constantly: "We are one -- we live or die together."
6. Minimize staff differences and insist on courtesy and mutual respect.
7. Master conflict -- deal with anger in small doses, engage dissidents, and avoid needless power struggles.
8. Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about.
9. Be willing to take the Big Risk.
10. Never give up -- there's always another move.
Examine any of today's great organizations and you will encounter an abundance of evidence of these ten lessons' effectiveness.
In Part Two, Perkins provides four case studies based on Business Communication Systems (AT&T/Lucent Technologies), Rice Health Systems, Weyerhaeuser Company, and Malden Mills. The material in Part Three suggests how to "lead at the edge" and then, in an Epilogue, Perkins provides his "perspective" on success and failure.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Sean M. Georges on May 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is simply one of the finest, most fascinating, and most instructive leadership books I have ever read. Dr. Perkins and his co-authors have succeeded in clarifying the universal leadership principles and practices as they exist in the real world. Using the incredible true story of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition as backdrop, and interweaving modern business examples to further illustrate the critical leadership lessons, Dr. Perkins has captured the heart, soul, and guts of leadership for the modern leader. Rather than stopping there, he also gives us the benefit of leadership lessons learned through his own intense experiences "leading at the edge" as a Marine Corps Infantry Officer in Vietnam, and as an organizational leadership consultant. It doesn't get any better than this extremely well-written work. If you, like me, are tired of the "leadership cookbooks" which crowd the bookstore shelves, search this one out. Read it. Discuss it with your family and your colleagues, and truly grow from the experience. The lessons are powerful, the stories are inspiring and instructive, and they work at the level of both metaphor and real-world example of what is possible in any organization when authentic leadership is present. Sean M. Georges, JD, LLM, is a former Marine Corps Officer and now serves as Vice President, Human Resources for a publicly-traded corporation.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Sehl on June 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I found this to be truly engaging. A great storyteller, Dennis Perkins interweaves the drama of the polar expedition with the urgent demands of today's executives, as they grow and transform organizations at Internet speed. He shows that Shackleton's central challenges are the same ones faced by business leaders pursuing their own survival struggles: vision-setting, building and mobilizing the team, resolving conflicts and nurturing. Then, he translates the explorer's instinctive behavior into understandable lessons for people aspiring to master the complexities of leadership.
Perkins' admiration and affection for Shackleton are palpable. He puts the reader in touch with his own sense of heroism and the high--but very human--standards to which he holds true leadership. Thanks!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By William on April 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An incredibly well-written primer on leadership. This book is a quick read, easy to grasp and full of poignant vingettes about those who have demonstrated, or have failed to demonstrate leadership at critical junctions in various situations. Being familiar with Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition prior to reading this book is helpful, but not necessary. However, the many examples from the expedition cited by the author are bound to make any serious student of leadership want to know the whole story, so I recommend purchasing Alfred Lansing's "Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage" originally published in 1959 and now in its third printing (Carroll & Graf, 1998), as well as the recent movie, "Shackleton" starring Kenneth Branagh produced by A&E. Having images from the book and movie in your mind clearly adds vividness to the leadership examples cited by Dennis Perkins. Additionally, since the author himself is clearly intimately familiar with the events, readers can only benefit from coming at the book from the same point of reference.
There are bound to be comparisons between the author's 10 Leadership Strategies and Covey's 7 Habits. While there may be differences in focus (the 7 Habits are focused on development of personal succes while Perkins' 10 Strategies are focused on leading a successful organization), Perkins steps into the cold, hard world of real life drama played out in boardrooms, production facilities and corporate culture by demonstrating the key 10 leadership strategies he has gleaned from Shackleton's overwhelming drive to get his crew home safely against odds that could easily have crushed the bravest of souls.
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