Leadership no doubt comes in many forms. Some leaders are brilliant strategists. They run companies, governments, social endeavours including NGO’s and truly do an effective job. Many of these leaders never (thankfully) have the need to respond during periods of existential threat to their cause or to that of their people, and so we rarely see the full range of leadership capabilities at any one time.
As I’ve stated in my recently published book, The Rise of Strategic People Leadership – A New Model for Human Resources in Today’s Digital Economy, the true and complete measure of leadership’s potential can best be measured when faced with such existential threats. Presently our world has been faced with several challenges in rapid succession, and just like Shackleton, we see inspiring leaders rising and leading their people to new horizons.
What is it that sets these people apart from others? My belief is that such leaders are both situationally and emotionally intelligent and are acutely tuned in to their people’s struggles while keeping the bigger picture in sharp focus. These leaders are able to relate to the plight of their people and rise in the face of overwhelming odds. The newly discovered “Endurance” shipwreck of the Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition was virtually unspoiled, found at the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean. As the ship had become trapped and crushed by the ice, so many years ago, all 27 men had to abandon ship and set up make do camps on floating and shifting icebergs. Despite the hunger and the hopelessness, Shackleton practiced inclusivity, fairness, equity, and open communication. In doing so, not one man was lost in their ordeal which lasted 497 days.
We are all leaders in our own right and triumphs such as those of Shackleton and the men of the Endurance should serve to remind us all that when called upon, we too can opt to pursue our end goals while maintaining the needs of others at the center of everything we do.
Written by John Cardella, Chairman & CEO at RehvUp Technologies Inc