What made Shackleton a good leader, by Henry Worsley

… nothing was more important to him than [the crew’s] welfare
(Correne Coetzer) Hundred years ago, October 26, Ernest Shackleton and the crew of the Endurance were fighting to survive the heavy pressure of the Weddell Sea’s ice. Almost like a living creature, the Endurance resisted the forces that would crushed her, but it was a one-sided battle, wrote Shackleton in his book, “South!”

“Millions of tons of ice pressed inexorably upon the little ship that had dared the challenge of the Antarctic.” The Endurance was now leaking badly, and at 9 p.m. Shackleton gave the order to lower boats, gear, provisions, and sledges to the floe, and move them to the flat ice a little way from the ship.”

Today, October 26, 2015, in Chile Henry Worsley is packed (with a 143 kg sled) and ready to fly from Punta Arenas to Antarctica to commemorate, Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to traverse Antarctica, with a solo, unassisted, unsupported ski traverse of the continent. The weather is as much a concern today as 100 years ago, though not affecting a boat but airplanes.

Henry is scheduled to fly to Antarctica tomorrow, on the 27th, but he says in a voice dispatch there is a possibility that he might be delayed as the runway at Union Glacier still has to be cleared for the Ilyushin-76.

Pythom asked Worsley, a descendant of one of Shackleton’s crew, what he admires about Shackleton and what made the man such a good leader in one of history’s biggest survival stories:


u2028His optimism and patience.

u2028That the welfare of his men governed all his decision making. u2028

His courage. u2028

The hope he instilled in others. u2028

His romanticism. u2028

His ability to hold a team together in adversity. u2028

His recognition of the qualities of Frank Wild and his choice to make him his second in command. u2028

The depth of affection and respect that his crew members (from all expeditions) had for him. u2028

That he never gave up on fulfilling dreams.

A good leader… All of the above.

But above all I believe that in times of deep trouble, when lives were at risk, he was able to instil in his men the confidence that he would get them out of the desperate situation they were in, because nothing was more important to him than their welfare.

#shackleton #endurance #hundredyearsago #henryworsley

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