“Huge blocks of ice, weighing many tons, were lifted into the air and tossed aside as other masses rose beneath them. We were helpless intruders in a strange world, our lives dependent upon the play of grim elementary forces that made a mock of our puny efforts.” -Ernest Shackleton.
His attempted journey to the South Pole, and subsequent desperate attempts to get his entire crew to safety in the wasteland of the Artic are legendary. What I want to focus on today is a character trait that I’ve gleaned from studying his life.
Shackleton was an optimist, yes, but he was incredibly realistic. When his men lacked courage he was quick to give it. When they were overly optimistic he was slow to pop balloons of hope, but insured that the men knew what straights they were in, backed with the promise that together they would spare no effort to get out of peril
This leadership wasn’t a fleeting trait, Shackleton and his crew were stranded for 497 days under the worst of conditions. Those days were punctuated by the incredible leadership of Ernest Shackleton and his ability to give realistic determination and courage to his crew. Your challenge this week is to do a self-check on how you talk to your team.
Are you realistic? Are you optimistic? Is there a balance? Does your team leave more discouraged after talking to you than when they came? These are questions you might need to ask your team individually. If your team is intimidated by you that’s a whole other problem, but in that case, ask someone you trust, even a family member.
The way you talk, the way you motivate or don’t motivate can make or break your team. They’re paid to work with you, but imagine if given the choice they stayed with you. That’s the mark of a leader.
Good luck this week!