January 11, 2021
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In a time that can never be predicted, leaders need leadership going through those challenges and crises. If Kovid-19 has taught us that there is one thing, it is that we are not in control of everything and the biggest leaders are those who can give hope, direction and a push.
The future is unclear and unpredictable, but our present is trivial, chaotic and even life-threatening. How do leaders lead in such times?
Sir Ernest Shackleton provides an excellent example. From 1914 to 1916, Shackleton led an expedition to Antarctica in an attempt to walk first to survive. Prior to this, he was part of two campaigns which both failed. This effort, however, is both Shackleton’s biggest failure and his greatest achievement. Even before arriving at the coast, Shackleton’s boat had been frozen at sea for 10 months. To make matters worse, the boat was then crushed by the sea, forcing people to camp on the ice in four cold, dark months. However, Shackleton kept them alive, led them to the land, and with five other men, sailed eight hundred miles to find the help they so desperately needed. Despite his failure to cross the Antarctic, Shackleton ensured the homecoming of all 27 men during their two-year Antarctic quarantine period.
We’ve all heard the term “crisis management”. Shackleton not only displayed extraordinary traits and skills to manage people and their emotions during a crisis, but he led his team towards development, unity and, ultimately, life.
Nearly a century later, leaders of businesses and organizations can learn from the captain of this ship. Here are four timeless and life-saving character traits of Shackton shared with many great other leaders in times of crisis.
Like someone reads through stories Shackleton’s Way By Margot Morel and Stephanie Caparell, The Plain Shackleton was a charismatic and optimistic figure who described the effects of Shackleton on those around him. Despite the pictures you find on Google Images, Shackleton seems to be a down-to-earth, fun-loving and humorous character.
One of his crew members, who provided many laughs and music to the crew, was later told that he had been hired because Shackleton felt he looked funny. Although we should never recruit or recruit anyone solely based on their physical appearance, we get an insight into Shackleton’s priorities. We see that chemistry, rather than just ability, plays an important factor in a great team.
As much as leaders should focus on developing skills such as vision-casting and critical-conversation, it may not be a bad idea to sing with others and not give hope and optimism even when you can’t.
Related: How Michael J. Fox said optimistic even when times are tough
to calm down
However, being optimistic does not lead to changes, changes or results. There was not a naive optimism in Shackleton. He knew the realities of his situation well but maintained a calm composition. In times of crisis, leaders must maintain logic and reasoning, even when it is tempting to give in to their concerns and apprehensions. No matter the severity of the situation, great leaders are a source of strength and stability for their team.
Morrell and Caparell’s teammate Michael H. Dale said Shackleton “never gave the slightest hint, no matter how bad a thing was found, he wasn’t going to survive.”
Related: 11 Tips for Emotional Suggestion
When I was in my early 20s, I worked as a busboy for a fancy restaurant. One of the things I always remembered from that place was if you worked as a server then you had to work first to make changes to all other roles.
On Shackleton’s boat, everyone was the same. Whether you were an ordinary crew or a physician, you were expected to when you would need to clear the floor or steer the boat. Shackleton himself followed these rules: When the crew was divided into smaller teams, Shackleton always kept the toughest people in himself. She even preferred to sleep in the bedstead like the others.
In some situations (eg, sports), it may be wise to stack a team. If the goal is for everyone to work together and survive, then it may be prudent to organize and deliver equally.
Related: How to Commit and Turn to ‘Diversity’ in ‘Inclusion’
Although Shackleton was called “The Boss”, he is described as taking his time to listen to others. When a crew member passes through the aisle, he will stop them and ask them about their lives and any details they remember.
During one evening, Shackleton noticed that one of his men seemed to be suffering more than the others. Instead of presenting the man to everyone, Shackleton opted instead to request more hot apple cider for himself and everyone. While many men ended up drinking excessively hot apple cider, Shackleton showed kindness to his running mate.
In Shackleton’s Way, Shackleton was quoted as saying, “[Meals] There were bright beacons in those cold and stormy days… The glow of warmth and comfort produced by food and drink made all of us optimistic. “
Related: 7 Inspirational Signs of Compassionate Leadership
As we all advance our lives and our respective teams through unique uncertain times, we can all see Ernest Shackleton as an example of four important traits for crisis leadership:
- Set aside goals and metrics for a moment and share a laugh or maybe even a song.
- Be present in front of your people, provide a calm, calm and collected presence.
- Sacrifice your pride and preferences.
- Look at the needs and pain of others.
Can’t all people in our lives use some more optimism? Joint association? An extra cup of hot apple cider?