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Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer Hardcover – January 8, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton has recently become the legendary character at the center of a renewed fascination with the early days of Antarctic exploration. Though not the most renowned explorer of his day, nor even the most successful in terms of stated goals, Shackleton's story of adventurous ambition, incredible endurance, and heroic survival against all odds is indeed the stuff of legend. And now, thanks to the detailed research and helpful insights of Morrell and Capparell, his story is also the meaty material of lessons on how to lead with authority, integrity, humor, and compassion.

A British explorer once summarized the feats of the great Antarctic explorer like this: "For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organization, give me Scott; for a winter journey, give me Wilson, for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen; and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time." His words set the tone for Shackleton's Way, at once both a travel narrative and a handbook of the skills required for effective leadership of diverse groups, especially in times of change and crisis. Shackleton's attempts to reach the South Pole and his two-year fight for the survival of his crew, when their ship is stranded in ice and then sunk, makes for exciting reading. Using this story as the centerpiece of their book, the authors have woven in their interpretation of his success using interviews with exceptional modern leaders such as Mike Dale, Jaguar's former chief of North American operations, and Apollo 13 Commander James Lovell, and by offering useful advice points at the end of each chapter. For example, in the chapter entitled "The Path to Leadership," Shackleton is shown to have been a well-read man, eager to learn and able to mix with varied company. The authors support this by noting that broadening one's horizons and learning to see things from different perspectives will allow for greater flexibility in problem solving. U.S. Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig agrees that a level of well roundedness is vital in leaders, acknowledging that "one of my prime aims in distributing books is to get people to think outside themselves and to think broadly."

Morrell and Capparell's excellent use of archival material (especially crew diaries) and their intelligent interpretation of what Shackleton's story implies about good leaders makes this book both pleasurable and educational. Throughout the story of the explorer's exploits, the authors have inserted summarizing subtitles that succinctly capture Shackleton's leadership style. Occasionally, this seems a little strained; while the explorer's progressive attitudes and actions deserve praise as leadership lessons par excellence, even some of his misjudgments are referred to with something approaching reverence. For the most part, however, the authors employ a subtle and effective hand in translating the actions of a man at the helm of a dangerous adventure into advice beneficial to leaders in all areas of life. --S. Ketchum

From Publishers Weekly

The heroism of British explorer Ernest ShackletonDbest known for his failed 1914 Antarctic expedition in which he saved his 27-member crew from perishing under harrowing conditions for more than two yearsDhas been chronicled in numerous narrative accounts and, most recently, became the inspiration for another book of business nostrums, Leading at the Edge (Forecasts, Apr. 3). Although they tread in that book's footsteps, Morrell (a financial expert who has studied Shackleton's life and leadership style for 15 years) and Capparell (a Wall St. Journal business editor) have produced a first-rate business primer. With the help of diaries and other first-hand accounts, they vividly describe Shackleton's expeditions and his powerful leadership style, relating them to today's business world in a streamlined presentation. The authors also include the insights of a handful of modern-day leaders, including James Cramer, who believes that his own following of Shackleton's example in hiring talented, optimistic people made the difference for him at the TheStreet.com. Morrell and Capparell's book is strongest in its emphasis on leading a team against desperate odds over an extended period of time ("Give your staff an occasional reality check to keep them on course. After a time, people will start to treat a crisis situation as business as usual and lose their focus"). (Jan.) Forecast: With a first serial in the Wall Street Journal and a five-city author tour, this solid book may come from behind to overtake its competition, Leading at the Edge.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st edition (January 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670891967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670891962
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Sir Ernest Shackleton's well-documented story of his ill-fated attempt to cross the Antarctic Continent and his heroic efforts to save his crew of 27 after the crushing and sinking of his ship Endurance is indeed the material for a major network mini-series. However, Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antartic Explorer, is an unglamorous and non-preachy lesson in leadership with authority, integrity, humor, and compassion.
I do have a slight criticism, an important lesson in leadership was skipped - balance. Shackleton's ability to coach and encourage, listen and build a sense of community, and focus on meeting the needs of others while developing and bringing out the best in them did not extend to his family. The authors Morrell and Capparell do mention his neglected family. However it was glazed over and they failed to offer insight on how we the reader might learn from this shortcoming. Clearly he was a self-directed and other-focused man, but he lacked balance. He devoted his life to his work and crew while his family settled for scraps of time and attention. It is important that we learn from success and failure, not just the stuff that makes for great TV and/or big screen movies.
While Shackleton's Way was admittedly a bit dry at times, I thoroughly enjoyed the mixture of history and practical applications of servant leadership in today's business world. The book provides a glimmer of hope in light of the recent corporate ethics scandals. I am impressed by Shackleton's pioneer sprit in exploration and leadership. He certainly did not have Covey, Greenleaf, Hunter or Autry to reference. How lucky we are to have Sir Ernest.
Whether you are searching for a historical biography, travel journal, adventure story or a desktop guide to servant leadership you just might find something more than you bargained for in Shackleton's Way.
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Format: Hardcover
Leadership is all about character, determination, consideration, vision, and fidelity. Under horrible circumstances, leaders usually become much better or worse. Even the harsh Captain Bligh found himself fulfilling a hero's role as a leader after the mutiny. Sir Ernest Shackleton was a fine man who became even finer under pressure.
If you don't know the story, let me outline a few details. During World War I, Sir Ernest led a small expedition to Antarctica from England in an attempt to cross that continent through the South Pole. The pole itself had already been reached by Amundsen and Scott. En route to land, the expedition's ship, Endurance, became locked in the pack ice. The crew drifted with the ice for over 10 months before the ship was crushed by the ice. Pulling lifeboats over the ice, the men reached open sea more than five months later. They reached a small island, Elephant Island, where most of the men remained while Sir Ernest and a few men made an 800 mile three week sea voyage to their starting point, South Georgia Island. Arriving there, they faced a horrible trek over almost impassable terrain to get to the settlement. Sir Ernest immediately left to rescue the men left behind on Elephant Island. All those on board the Endurance survived.
Throughout this rescue, Sir Ernest proved himself to be resourceful, flexible, considerate, and indomitable.
Shackleton's Way recounts Sir Ernest's life, and summarizes key points about his leadership style. Each chapter ends with a commentary by someone who learned from Sir Ernest's experiences to be a better leader.
As a leadership book, Shackleton's Way has a number of weaknesses. First, leadership and management are not separated.
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By A Customer on January 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book gives a beautifully pared-down account of an extraordinary story and provides remarkably appropriate analogies in our present day. It should inspire many to read more on the subject of Shackleton and the Endurance expedition,particularly Endurance by Alfred Lansing.Whether you are a leader or among the led in any facet of your life there are lessons to be learned and remembered here. They are laid out in a clear and concise format and illustrated by the ongoing saga of Shackleton and the amazing group of men he brought through an unbelievably harrowing adventure. The book reminds us of the power of good, of compassion, perseverance, and honesty. It is well worthwhile reading for anyone interested in a marvelous story and how it relates to all of us in the here and now.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a busineses executive for over thirty years, I have seldom read any business book which tells a story and helps to make the lessons so simple to understand and apply. If I were still running a large organization, this would be the book I would buy for the entire organization to inspire and teach useful lessons for those responsible for leading people through good times and bad in 2001 and beyond. While the Shackleton story has been told elsewhere, the applicability of his beliefs and behavior has never been so clearly described for all to understand and apply.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 others started on a journey to be the first people to cross the Antarctic Continent. Their ship was caught in the ice, eventually crushed, and the story of how they all survived has become a classic. In this book, the story is retold with new insights and information. The authors focus on Shackleton as leader. The conclusions are very well drawn, and the connections and insights regarding "leadership" are true, valid, and extremely worthwhile. They make sense, they are useful, and they work! I've been to South Georgia and Elephant Island, and thus have some appreciation of the difficulties Shackleton and his men faced. His leadership skills came through for his team then, and the lessons learned are more than appropriate for leaders of today.
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