Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Leading at the Edge : Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition
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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. Part Four consists of various resources: Critical Leadership Skills Survey, Your Leadership Expedition: A Personal Development Plan, Your Leadership Expedition Map, Further Readings from The Edge, and a wealth of notes on the text.
From the time that Ernest Shackleton set sail (December 5, 1914) on the Endurance with his crew of 26 seamen and scientists until he and his crew finally reached South Georgia (May 10.1916), he steadfastly followed each of these ten strategies. The challenges encountered along the way ("at the edge") are almost beyond comprehension. All of these challenges are discussed in chilling detail in Caroline Alexander's brilliant study, The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Anarctic Expedition (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999). If you have a taste for great adventure and/or an interest in great leadership, I urge you to read Perkins'book, preferably in combination with Alexander's.
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on May 10, 2000
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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on June 12, 2000
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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on March 29, 2012
I gave this book 5 stars (which I rarely do) because my imagination is captured by the Shackleton story. I love Endurance - the original story and may have found Leading at the Edge more captivating because of it.

Leading at the edge - Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition. Subtitles tell a lot these days.

At the same time Endurance set off to conquer the south pole, the Karluk set off to conquer the North Pole. Both ships were stranded in ice. Both sets of explorers had to endure unbelievable hardship. But, Shackleton's group pulled together. It was a story of sacrifice, teamwork and loyalty. The Karluk explorers drifted into theft, deception, lying, and mutiny.

This book delves into the why. How did Shackleton do it? From this, they derive the following 10 leadership lessons.

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 behaviors.

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 status 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 big risks.

10. Never give up-there's always another move.
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on April 26, 2003
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. With the addition of other real-life survival anecdotes, Perkins adds more captivating illustrations for his leadership strategies.
A specifc point made which bears noting is the curious fact that leadership is often easier to exercise in a clear crisis than when no specific danger is on the horizon. When no dire need for change is evident, most people are satisfied with the status quo, even if the organization is getting sloppy and inefficiencies are beginning to limit organizational flexibility. I have been fond of saying, "We are so into crisis management, that unless the situation is a crisis, we can't manage it." Perkins covers this point wonderfully with a case study on how a top forest products corporation remade itself when the need for change was still only evident to a few people, and long beofore a major crisis was looming overhead.
This is a "meaty" book with no fluff and a quick read, organized in a way that makes it simple to reference specific points in the future. All the books in the world on corporate and marketing strategies are useless if the corporate leadership culture is sick. This book hits organizations in the center of gravity - the mindset of the leadership, and that is where all effective change has to start. I cannot recommend the book more highly.
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on May 4, 2000
Perkins' book provides a unique and fascinating angle on a subject of pivotal concern. Ernest Shackleton's remarkable antarctic survival saga can, ultimately, only be understood as evidence of outstanding leadership abilities. The book examines Shackleton's actions and decisions and extracts 10 key leadership lessons that can be applied by anyone faced with the challenge of leading and influencing others in these turbulent times. I highly recommend it!
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on May 30, 2000
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have felt truly and soundly coached by its insights presented as both historical and present day challenges. Perkins has been able to merge "The Edge" with "The Zone": providing soundly positive insights into adversity and assuming the role of a corporate coach. In reading this book, I felt as if I were an athlete being intelligently guided from the sidelines by the leader who has been there before. It has provided me of the kind of coaching I imagine only top-flight athletes receive.
It doesn't take long to realize that Perkins is one of those rare Zen masters who has been there and back again, and can relate large-scale adversity with commercial necessity.
I recommend this to all those who try to constantly improve their game on and off the court ..., and in the business world.
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on May 1, 2000
This is a good new business book that posits that today's businesspeople can learn from the leadership example of Sir Ernest Shackleton as displayed during his famous 1914-1916 Endurance expedition. The author takes lessons from Shackleton's experience, his own experiences as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam, and from the business world, and contrasts them with examples from unsuccessul expeditions and businesses. He and his coauthors then finish up with a series of cases from the real world that illuminate the thesis, especially the tragic Malden Mills fire, in which Aaron Feuerstein was able to show truly Shackleton-like leadership characteristics and care for his employees. Not only will businesspeople learn valuable lessons in leadership from this book, but it can serve as a useful introduction to Shackleton's adventures.
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When British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton was busy saving his crew after a shipwreck in the Antarctic in 1914, you would guess that he wasn't thinking much about teaching leadership lessons. But author Dennis N.T. Perkins uses Shackleton's expedition to show how the leadership principles the explorer exercised can be applied to your work. He even adds modern case studies as illustration. This excellent book is at its best when it describes Shackleton's courageous rescue. He led his men to safety through a frozen wilderness by focusing on the ultimate goal of survival, setting a personal example, overcoming conflict, minimizing status differences, stressing teamwork and applying other essential leadership qualities. Though the principles may sound familiar, the book provides a dramatic new view of them, and it is written in a clear, crisp style. We at getAbstract.com recommend it to all corporate explorers.
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on September 21, 2012
This is a good book that combines a good mix of telling the Shackleton story along with practical leadership insights. At first I was not sure I would like the book at all but I found the book gets better and better as it develops. Throughout the book the author draws insights from Ernest Shackleton's leadership of the Endurance expedition that illustrates them by pointing to business examples and this helps to tie everything back together. This is not my favorite book on leadership, and I would hesitate to recommend it unless the reader is interested in the story of the Endurance expedition.
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