Organizations are in a constant need for a good leader – one who can stand out to deliver the desired ends and goals and in the process create leaders among its ranks as well. This is particularly true in our society today: driven by the increasing stress of competitiveness, material needs and wants as well as technological changes, an organization ceases to persist if it cannot develop and train a leader or a manager in every employee.
The same is true in the health care industry where nurses and other health care providers have expanded responsibilities and now manages their own subordinates in order to deliver the best possible care that can be given to patients. Hence, within the framework of developing leaders and managers in every individual and surviving through challenges successfully, the story of Ernest Shackleton in Shackleton’s Way and his conquest of the wrath of Antartica presents a valuable lesson in leadership, motivation and management.
Consequently, his saga and heroism is not only contained in the literary and science journals but also in management, leadership, sociology and psychology as well. For one, his leadership style and the manner by which he managed his crew of 27 in a two-year ordeal, with every one going home safe is a classic and a remarkable display of character and organizational skills.
This paper evaluates Shackleton’s Way written by Morell and Capparell (2002) in lieu with his leadership and management style particularly in choosing the right people for the job, creating camaraderie among the group, developing the strengths and overcoming the weaknesses of the individuals and forming groups to overcome obstacles and creating leaders in the process. Particularly, an analysis of Shackleton’s leadership style, communication strategy, use of team management, conflict resolution and change innovation are explored in lieu with the ability of the whole crew to survive through the challenges of their Antarctica trip.
This paper argues that meeting the desired goals/objectives of a group entails the commitment, the knowledge, skills and the positive attitude of individuals as directed by a good leader. Shackleton’s Way: Summary and Analysis Morrell and Capparell (2002) presented the dilemma of Shackleton’s Way in this scenario: captured by the ice of Antarctica for two years with twenty (27) men in tow and very limited resources including gas, food, medicine and other resources, how can one man bargain to save their lives when negotiation with their captor is impossible?
Morell and Capparell (2002) trace how the great Ernest Shackleton had turned this tragedy into a voyage that became a legend. In the first parts of the book, the authors traced the character and leadership style of Shackleton: amidst the rat race in the corporate world, he worked with respectful competitiveness and turned his bad experiences and weaknesses into lessons to make him a better person. Morrell and Capparell (2002) presented that the character that Shackleton would show in his voyage was shaped through his childhood years and were learned from his family.
For instance, his exposure to different cultures made him realize the diversity of people and in learning different attitudes, behaviors and priorities. In succeeding chapters, we see Shackleton knowing the value of hiring the right people for the job. With his eye for optimism and talent, he gave the best renumeration possible to people he thought are the best in the job among those whom he interviewed. Knowing fully well that his people are competent, he abolished the traditional vertical hierarchy in organizations and instead created team management in order to make the crew realize their value in the whole expedition and the organization.
This allowed him to get the best work done by each individual- making them realize their value and giving them importance through one-on-one talks. Through optimism and confidence, Shackleton was able to guide his people to the goal that he had laid down to achieve and resolving conflicts with justice and impartiality. More importantly, his team management and implementation of group dynamics- assigning teams, balancing them and ensuring that their tasks are proportional with their capabilities had been critical in their success.
Furthermore, Shackleton in the process created leaders among his crew. After the expedition, he provided an invaluable insight to the group and how society can improve through his ways can still be applied today. As indicated, the primary strength of the book is how it provided the reader with a step-by-step account of how Shackleton’s leadership was developed- including his personal history and extending into his business ventures and the Antarctic voyage.
While several books have already provided us an account of Shackleton, no book has explored it using the leadership and management literature as much as how Morrell and Capparell (2002) traced and retraced the steps undertaken by Shackleton in succeeding Antarctica. For instance, in terms of Shackleton’s leadership style, the authors started from his innate capacities as a leader and how he valued the process of recruitment using unique methods to determine character and in creating a group dynamics that allows for his talented crew members to provide their output.
His leadership style is therefore democratic and he can be considered as a charismatic leader. Morrell and Capparell (2002) devoted a lengthy and informative showcase of how Shackleton can be considered as such- with confidence and optimism, he was able to facilitate and regroup his crew to attain the maximum possible output that he wants to attain. This was done first by showing them the overall picture and locating each crew from that plan. By doing so, Shackleton and the authors motivated the crew and showed how their plan will not work without one member.
How could he have created such group coherence in the middle of so much conflict? The primary tool as aptly shown by the book is the manner by which Shackleton communicates with each crew member. He opted to resolve conflict through one-on-one discussions and through constructive conflict resolution. By trying to look for solutions instead of blaming, he was shown by the authors to be a good conflict negotiator. On this note, the authors have succeeded in showing the readers how communication can be done.
In terms of team management, his group dynamics were clearly illlustrated by Morrell and Capparell (2002) when they examined how Shackleton divided his group into two- leaving 22 of his men in an island and bringing the others to find food. Choosing the ones who would be left behind due to illness and bringing the ones who can best deliver the goods showed how Shackleton maximizes their resources as well as in knowing who can best do the job. As a change innovator, Morrell and Capparell (2002) in the latter part of the book had showcased how the crew members became leaders in their own right after learning from Shackleton.
Primarily, the strength of the book is that it can serve as an informative as well as an academic resource for all organizations. Second, the manner by which the narratives were sewn together to fit how leadership is through Shackleton’s way makes the readers appreciate the value of leadership and of the organization. Finally, the book is entertaining enough to be read and understoob by a wide range of audience. On the other hand, the book’s primary weakness is its inability to provide comparisons with other legendary leaders. This could have given the readers the chance to compare the leadership style of Shackleton with others.
Consequently, in today’s modern organization, the lack of connection and the attempt to apply it amidst workers of today seems to be missing. Implication and Application to Nursing and Health Care Practice Leadership is universal in nature- regardless of the organization and its needs, leaders have common characteristics that make them effective. In the healthcare organization, leadership is no longer the strictly vertical hierarchy- more and more independence is given to nurses and other practitioners. For one, the emergence of positions such as Licensed Vocational Nursing, Licensed Practical Nursing, Nursing Assistants, etc. ompels nurses to develop their own leadership styles. For instance, as a provider of care to patients, the nurse delegates’ tasks, supervises their subordinates, reports to their superiors as well as plan the care of the patient to reach the goals of care. Therefore, gone are the days when nurses are dependent on their physicians for their actions. Similar to the experiences of Shackleton, nurses and health care practitioners can gain important insights on how team management can be organized in order to provide continuous patient care.
In nursing for instance, nurses works in functional system where each shift would have a nurse and allied professionals, the ability to coordinate, collaborate, negotiate with the team, allocate resources to ensure that all patients are given care, and pursue both short-term and long-term goals are now the roles of nurses. Consequently, nurses are considered to be the primary caretaker among health care professionals because they are the ones who are with the patients most of time. Therefore, nurses’ serve as advocates to physicians and other health care professionals.
In doing so, the lack of leadership of nurses can lead to inadequate provision of care. Accordingly, Shackleton provided a valuable lesson on how nurses can rise up to the ranks to be head nurses, supervisors and even administrators in the same way that Shackleton’s crew became successful managers and leaders. For one, as shown in the book, a leader becomes a follower first. Leading without knowing how to follow is disastrous. This is because the value of respect as shown through good communication and motivation can only be shown by someone who had been through the process of following.
Thus, while there are innate qualities for leadership, it is highly developed. Consequently, strength of character particularly confidence, optimism and willpower which were essential qualities in the success of Shackleton are important qualities for nurses- not only in direct patient care but also in managing other staff nurses. Essentially, Shackleton’s Way provides an insightful manner by which leadership is connected to character and how it can be honed in an organization.
For health care practitioners and nurses, this book provides a vivid and comprehensive display on how leaders are made and how they handle people. Ethical, Political and Social Consequences of Shackleton’s Way While far from being the best leader in the literature, Shackleton’s Way was able to impart the simplicity of how leadership can be done: that is showing compassion to your people and your goals, as well as respecting the rights of each individual. In doing so, one becomes an ethical leader and in the process, gains the respect of their members.
For one, it could have been easy for Shackleton to abandon his crew and save himself or just bring the strongest ones to help him escape Antarctica. However, he worked in a way that would bring the best in every individual and in the process save them all. In present organizations, we see leaders and managers using people for their own advancement. It is common that those in the top positions use politics to get ahead. This is also true in our society- whether the government or in private sectors. It is almost impossible to say that one got ahead without stepping on another’s shoe.
However, the ethics and politics of leadership in Shackleton’s Way believed and showed otherwise. For one, we see the purpose of Shackleton- it is ethically and morally sound: for all of them to survive regardless if he risks his own life in doing so. Even in the healthcare industry and particularly in politics, turn coating and saving one’s own face has been very common- to a point where the youth regards it as the status quo. However, Shackleton’s Way proved that leaders in any organization can choose the harder and more complicated way but one that is just, humane and effective.
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