Endurance: Shackleton’s Incrediable Voyage


Endurance by Alfred Lansing is the story of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition in the early 1900’s. Alfred Lansing was an American Journalist and writer. Although this book does not directly discuss different concepts or approaches to leadership, a great deal of different leadership styles are used throughout this novel. The reason for choosing this novel was because it was listed multiple times on different lists of leadership books. Most of those the books on the lists were books that directly discuss different concepts and approaches to leadership. However, I was interested in why Endurance was on the list. Leadership is one of the key ideas in this novel. Leadership is what allowed the men to be as successful as they were in the unfortunate circumstances they were placed in. This book does a great job at showing the reader how leadership can be used in all situations as well as how the style of a leader must be adapted to ensure that his or her followers are being positively benefited.

There were three main takeaways from this novel. Adapting to followers needs was one of them. Throughout the novel adapting to the needs of the follower was one of the most important reasons why the men survived for as long as they did. By adapting to the followers need, Shackleton, the boat’s captain, ensured that his seamen were receiving the best possible care in the situation they were placed in. Following the sinking of the ship, the men were required to sleep in tents on an ice glacier. There were not enough tents for everyone, so Shackleton assigned the men to the tents where there would be the least conflict between the men. The seamen did not have a problem with this because they knew that Shackleton was doing this for the survival and success of everyone. Shackleton knew that with little conflict there would be more success because the men would be able to work together well and accomplish their necessary daily tasks.

The second main takeaway or concept from this novel is servant leadership. Servant leadership is leveling the playing field with the people you are serving. You as a leader no longer have the status as being better or have a higher ranking than those you are serving. Shackleton did just this. Being a servant leader came easy to him. Shackleton, just like the other men had his daily jobs. Each night there would be a watch men who stated up to guard the camp. This was a job each mean dreaded. Shackleton made sure that he completed his night watch duty whenever he was assigned. Shackleton also didn’t give himself any more food or more imported living conditions than what his seamen had. Shackleton made himself equal. By doing this Shackleton was relaying to his followers that not only were they responsible for the survival of the crew, but also that Shackleton was doing his part in ensuring the survival of the crew.

Persistence is the third concept that can be taken away from this novel. Persistence is what helped them to survive. Without persistence, any possible chance of getting home would have been lost very early on in their journey. Shackleton himself was a very persistent man. He did not give up easily. He had a mindset that if he started something that he must finish it. The persistence that Shackleton showed him men also helped his men to remain hopeful throughout their long journey in the bitter cold. Persistence can be hard to maintain if one keep experiencing failure after failure and Shackleton knew this. Therefore, he never gave up in order to make sure that his men remained hopeful because with hope comes a positive attitudes and with a positive attitude comes progress.

Applying these three concept to myself as a leader at CMU will help me to greatly grow as a leader. Adapting to my followers needs will help to prepare me as a leader. It will help to prepare me because it will force me to become flexible and learn to adapt to unexpected situations. In college, meetings and events change often. Problems come up and getting frustrated is not the appropriate way to handle that. Altering your leadership style is more of a fitting solution to manage the issue. Putting my followers first will help to prepare me as a leader because it taught me that even though it may be the harder thing to do, as a leader putting your followers first to ensure their well-being is the best thing to do. Servant leadership is a style of leadership that I want to adapt. Becoming a servant leader is not a trait or a characteristic it is a mindset that I am going to work towards. Having this mindset will help me develop as a leader. Being persistence as a leader is a very important trait to have. As leaders, we must constantly force ourselves to grow, we must be persistent with the development of our leadership skills. We must also be persistent as students. Receiving a few bad grades does not mean you can quit. Be persistent, learn from your mistakes, make correction and try again. That same concept applies to leadership. When a plan does not work or a follower does not understand, don’t give up, alter your plan, readjust and try again.

 I would recommend this book to others. This book is unlike other leadership books in the fact that it does not directly discuss leadership concepts and approaches, it simply just shows many different approaches applied to real situations. I believe that the way leadership is presented in this novel will help to benefit others because it shows how the concept or approach is applied in real life situation as well as showing the reader that there is not one concert way to lead. The style someone may use to lead in one situation can easily change when a new situation comes up.

After reading this novel, I will approach leadership as a whole differently. I will approach leadership with the mindset of a servant leader. I will try and humble myself when helping others. I will remember that I am not better than the people I am serving, their needs are what really matter. I will not take advantage of the status that being in a leadership position gives me. I will act as a servant.


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