Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Shackleton's Way: Leadership lessons from the great Antarctic explorer - Book review

Shackleton has been 'up there' as one of my heroes as long as I can remember and certainly since back in the late 60s/early 70s when I first took up mountaineering and looked forward to a career on the Navy/Marines - bet that surprised a few of you. So I had a reasonable awareness of his leadership ability.

As a result I actually bought this book for my son who was working on an assignment on Leadership last year - he was looking for exemplars and, to me, Shackleton was an obvious choice. Sadly the book's pristine condition told a story of its own.

Anyway, I retrieved the book and embarked on a journey of reliving Shackleton's adventures - at least that was the hope. Unfortunately the book suffers from a lack of flow and therefore becomes a bit of chore.  Basically every chapter has three sub-chapters: the storyline which often feels contrived and constructed around PowerPoint headings; a summary of the key lessons; and then a sub-chapter on how someone has been strongly influenced by Shackleton's style.  To me the book suffers as a result and becomes laboured through trying to do too many things and none of them particularly well.  The book consequently also suffers from the lack of a narrative - at one stage I wondered if I would enjoy reading the book better by just sticking to the first sub-chapters. The biggest disappointment though is the almost deification of Shackleton - I just don't feel that would be Shackleton's Way and although a great leader he was no saint.

I believe every aspiring CFO needs to understand Leadership and demonstration of Leadership separates the 'great' from the merely 'good' CPO.  Although the key points for CPOs will be found in the book, this isn't the book I would recommend.

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