Hiring an outstanding crew: lessons from Shackleton’s Endurance expedition.

I’ve previously written about Shackleton’s leadership qualities in my blog, and the first leg of his epic James Caird voyage in his escape from the South Pole:

http://www.dnapeople.co.uk/100-years-on-from-the-voyage-of-the-james-caird-leadership-lessons-from-shackleton/

Two weeks on from putting to sea and finding respite on Elephant Island, he began the second leg of his journey, 100 years ago yesterday, when the James Caird was launched from Elephant Island on 24 April 1916, headed for South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean, a distance of 800 nautical miles.

With five companions, Shackelton’s objective was to obtain rescue for the 26 men stranded on Elephant Island after the loss of Endurance. Polar historians regard the voyage as one of the greatest small-boat journeys ever undertaken.

The James Caird was named by Shackleton after Sir James Key Caird, a Dundee jute manufacturer and philanthropist, whose sponsorship had helped finance the expedition. Surviving a series of dangers in tumultuous seas, including a near capsizing, the boat reached the southern coast of South Georgia after a voyage lasting 16 days.

Shackleton’s choices for the boat’s crew were Frank Worsley and Tom Crean. Shackleton was confident that Crean would persevere to the bitter end, and had great faith in Worsley’s skills as a navigator, especially his ability to work out positions in difficult circumstances. For the remaining places Shackleton took John Vincent, Henry McNish and Timothy McCarthy.

The wind was a moderate south-westerly, which aided a swift getaway, and the boat was quickly out of sight of the land. Shackleton ordered Worsley to set a course due north, instead of directly for South Georgia, to get clear of the menacing ice-fields that were beginning to form. Shackleton established an on-board routine: two three-man watches, with one man at the helm, another at the sails, and the third on bailing duty.

Success depended on Worsley’s navigation, based on sightings attempted during the very brief appearances of the sun, as the boat pitched and rolled. Navigation became, in Worsley’s words, a merry jest of guesswork, as they encountered the worst of the weather. Nevertheless, they were still moving towards their goal, and a dead-reckoning calculation by Worsley on 6 May, suggested that they were now 115 nautical miles from the western point of South Georgia.

On 7 May Worsley advised Shackleton that he could not be sure of their position within ten miles. Late on the same day floating seaweed was spotted, and the next morning there were birds, including cormorants which were known never to venture far from land. Shortly after noon on 8 May came the first sighting of South Georgia.

As they approached the high cliffs of the coastline, heavy seas made immediate landing impossible. For more than 24 hours they were forced to stand clear. On 10 May, when the storm had eased slightly, Shackleton was concerned that the weaker members of his crew would not last another day, and decided that whatever the hazard they must attempt a landing. Finally, after several attempts, made their landing. The voyage of the James Caird would be ranked as one of the greatest boat journeys ever accomplished.

As the party recuperated, Shackleton decided he, Worsley and Crean would cross the island on foot, aiming for the station at Stromness. Early on 18 May they began. Since they had no map, they had to improvise a route across mountain ranges and gaciers. They travelled continuously for 36 hours, before reaching Stromness.

The advent of the southern winter and adverse ice conditions meant that it was more than three months before Shackleton was able to achieve the relief of the men at Elephant Island but finally, with the aid of the steam-tug Yelcho. commanded by Luis Pardo, the entire party was brought to safety, reaching Punta Arenas in Chile on 3 September 1916.

Lessons have been drawn from Shackleton’s leadership in planning and executing his expeditions, and how it can be applied to modern business thinking. On the Endurance expedition, it was his ability to assemble an outstanding crew that stands out. Shackleton was surrounded by a team of outstanding individuals, each of whom had a key role to play in the voyage.

So, lets look first at the key Endurance personnel, roles and responsibilities on the expedition, and then the recruitment strategy and process Shackleton implemented to form his team.

Deputy: Frank Wild, Second in Command, was responsible for the day to day operations of the expedition plotting routes, actions and decisions on all aspects of the ship, including responsibility for the crew welfare.

Wild was an inconspicuous figure, yet there was something in his presence that inspired confidence. Wild was left in charge of the men on Elephant Island for the 18 months of isolation.

Wild had a rare tact, wrote Shackleton and the happy knack of saying nothing and yet getting people to do things just as he requires them.

Operations: Frank Worsley, Captain of the Endurance and ultimately responsible for assessing the direction of the ship to the Pole. A native of New Zealand, Worsley ran away to sea at 16, apprenticing on a wool clipper.

Worsley was a master navigator, and the success of the James Caird journey to South Georgia is largely due to his efforts when he navigated 800 miles of dangerous seas. Worsley died in 1943, aged 70 years, his ashes were scattered at sea.

Financial: Tom Crean, Second Officer, and responsible for the expedition’s budget. Born one of ten children in County Kerry, Ireland, Crean was tall and tough as an oak. He had been to the Pole twice ahead of Endurance, with Scott on both the Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions.

For his courage during Shackleton’s 1909 South Polar journey, Crean was awarded the Albert Medal. Crean made the James Caird journey to South Georgia and joined Shackleton and Worsley in the crossing of the island. He returned to Ireland and opened a pub called the South Pole Inn, still there today. He died in 1938.

Creative: Frank Hurley was the Endurance photographer. An independent-minded Australian, he gained a reputation for stopping at nothing to secure a memorable photograph.

His stunning photographs of the Endurance expedition are largely what his reputation rests on today, but he was also a noted WWI photographer. His Paget process photographs of the war are among the only known colour images of the conflict. One evening he came home complaining of feeling unwell. He sat in his chair, had a cup of tea, fell asleep and never woke up.

Special Resources: Charles Green was the Endurance cook. Food played an important role with special diets essential, but Shackleton also used the gathering of the crew at meal times as a key part of his leadership, creating a spirit of camaraderie.

Green joined the Endurance at Buenos Aires, replacing the ship’s original cook, who had been sacked. He cooked imperturbably on the ice floes, and on Elephant Island. When he finally returned to England in late 1916 found that his parents had cashed his life insurance policy and his girlfriend had married someone else! Green died in 1974, aged 86.

Communications: Lionel Greenstreet, First Officer responsible for the official log of the journey and communicating with the crew. He had experience in the merchant service before joining the expedition on the spur of the moment, 24 hours before Endurance sailed, when her original First Officer elected to volunteer for war duty.

Greenstreet saved the log of the Endurance and carried it with him at all times until the subsequent rescue. During WWI he served as captain of a Royal Navy tugboat, and during WWII, served on rescue ships. He died in 1979 at the age of 89 – he was the last survivor of the Endurance expedition.

Human Resource: Dr. Alexander Macklin was the doctor and brought many new ideas to the medical care and attention of the crew using new equipment and technology. In medical school he discovered Nansen’s Furthest North, which ignited in him the desire to become an explorer.

During WWI, Macklin served as a doctor during which he won the Military Cross for bravery in tending the wounded under fire. Macklin joined Shackleton for the Quest expedition and was with Shackleton when he died; to him fell the duty of performing a post-mortem on his friend.

Staffing: Alfred Cheetham was Endurance’s Third Officer. Born in Liverpool, he was a long-time sailor, and had served aboard Morning, one of the vessels sent in relief of Scott’s 1902 expedition. After serving as Third Officer of the Nimrod, he served aboard Terra Nova during Scott’s fatal 1912 expedition.

A small, cheerful man, he was an integral part of the Endurance epic, keeping the sometimes troublesome trawler hands crew under control. After the Endurance expedition, Cheetham served in the Royal Navy, and was killed just weeks before the Armistice. Cheetham had been south of the Antarctic Circle more than any other man, spending nearly four man years there – still a record today.

So that was the oustanding crew, what about Shackleton’s recruitment strategy and process? Shackleton’s initial advertisement in The Times set the tone: Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger. Safe return doubtful, honour and recognition in case of success.

Life on polar expeditions isn’t for dreamers. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest place on earth, covered by a layer of ice three miles thick. The mean annual temperature is -70°F, what type of men wanted to go there? Shackleton was clear in his mind the sort of men he wanted for his crew:

The men selected must be qualified for their work to meet the special conditions. They must be able to live in harmony for a long period of time, without outside communication. It must be remembered that men whose desires lead them to the untrodden paths of the world have generally marked individuality. Character and temperament are as important as ability. I have to balance my types, their science or seamanship weighs little against the sort of chaps they are.

Clear in his mind the sort of men he wanted, what were the key elements to his recruitment strategy?

Build your crew around a core of experienced men Recruit experienced workers to establish a professional environment, they will support younger staff when the going gets tough. Recognise the value of expertise, whatever the age of the individual, and balance your team’s experience and age.

Chose the best management team Surround yourself with the best people you can in senior positions, who share your views of leadership and with whom there is absolute mutual trust, respect and loyalty. Pick people who compliment your management style without being yes-men.

Loyalty, cheerfulness, strength and experience are key qualities for your leadership team. They will have more contact day-to-day with your staff than you, and whilst handling issues and providing advice to the staff, are also your eyes and ears.

Recruit people who share your vision Shackleton made a mistake on his first polar journey by hiring individuals who didn’t fit the bold, risk-taking culture of exploration. For the Endurance he recruited a captain with bravado in spades, he was bold, a little eccentric – a mad-hat just right for the job.

Be different. Shackleton conducted unconventional interviews to unearth unique talent. He sorted applications from candidates into three piles – mad, possible and hopeless. His interviews were freewheeling exchanges, brief but intense. Shackleton believed the touchstone for a man’s spirit was his personality, and his interviews went deeper than experience and expertise, asking questions that revealed a candidate’s personality, values, and perspective on work and life.

Recruit those who had the expertise he lacked Shackleton was not a scientist but that was the purpose of the journey, so he recruited people with superior education and expertise. He liked his key men to be tough, clever and inventive. Hire those with talents and expertise you lack, don’t feel threatened by them as they will help you stay on the cutting edge.

Shackleton built and sustained his crew by constantly reinforcing a personal connection with all his crew individually. His approach to recruiting and leading people provides food for thought we can adopt and apply to business today, offering guidance for hiring your own outstanding crew.

100 years on from the voyage of the James Caird: leadership lessons from Shackleton

Exactly 100 years ago today, 9 April 1916, Ernest Shackleton was in the James Caird, a 25 foot boat, attempting the first part of a staggering journey in the tumultuous South Alantic ocean.

Shackleton was an Antarctic explorer who twice came close to being the first to reach the South Pole in 1902 and in 1909, before Amundsen beat Scott in 1912. His Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1916, aboard Endurance, also ended in failure, but unlike Scott, who died at the Pole, Shackleton survived.

Lessons have been drawn from Shackleton’s leadership in planning and executing his expedition and subsequent rescue, and how they can be applied to modern business thinking, notably his ability to assemble an outstanding crew and his leadership style. It’s a remarkable story.

Shackleton set out at the age of forty on a self-funded voyage to make what was considered the last great expedition left on Earth – an 1,800 mile crossing of the Antarctic on foot. His ship was the aptly named Endurance, after his family motto, Fortitudine Vincimus by endurance we conquer.

The Endurance set sail on August 8, 1914. All was well, until just one day’s sail from its destination on the Antarctic coast, the ship stuck in pack ice in the Weddell Sea on December 7, becoming trapped on January 18, 1915. She was abandoned ten months later on 27 October, and sank 21 November.

Shackleton and his 27 men were stranded on an ice floe 1,200 miles from land, with no means of communication and no hope of rescue. All they had were three small lifeboats salvaged from the ship, just twenty-five feet long. Temperatures were so low that you could hear the sea freeze. They spent four months in the darkness of the long polar winter.

Eventually when the ice began to melt, the men took to the lifeboats. After four months of mind-numbing boredom and danger sat on the ice floe, they were suddenly pitched into an intense battle for survival that brought them to the limits of human capabilities.

It was 100 years ago today that they started their epic journey to Elephant Island, which had no animals for food or fresh water. On 15 April 1916, after seven days at sea in some of the worst conditions imaginable, the three boats landed, reaching terra firma for the first time in 497 days.

A week later, Shackleton took five men to sail 800 miles in the James Caird, over tumultuous seas to reach South Georgia, part of the Falkland Islands, for help. Their journey lasted sixteen days, navigated only with a sextant. When they landed, they had to cross a mountain range to reach civilisation at a whaling station. This climb took another 36 hours.

When they greeted the whaling station manager, Thoralf Sorlle, he looked at them incredulously, Who the hell are you? One of the men stepped forward and replied: My name is Shackleton. Thoraf Sorlle, it is said, turned away and wept. The first remarkable voyage of the James Caird was 9 April to 16 April, the second from April 24 to May 10, 1916.

Having spent four days recovering with the whalers, Shackleton turned round and led the effort to rescue the rest of his crew, on board a Chilean tugboat, The Yelcho. It took him four attempts to do so. Shackleton saved the lives of 22 men left stranded for 137 days on 30 August 1916, ending The Endurance expedition which set sail on August 8, 1914.

A statue of Luis Pardo, captain of The Yelcho, sits on the landing point at Elephant Island. Since that time, only a handful of expeditions have been there, including the Shackleton Epic expedition of 2013 which sought to replicate the journey – here’s the web site link http://shackletonepic.com/ and a video link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoUCLtTXZOI

In 1922 some of the Endurance crew returned to the island when they landed from the Quest, Shackleton’s last expedition, on which he died of a heart attack aged 48. One can well imagine what an emotional experience it must have been for those men.

Arising from this epic encounter, Shackleton’s Way, his leadership philosophy from his Endurance expedition – resonates with themes and messages any business leader can can learn from. His leadership style, primarily to focus on the team, saw them survive against the odds.

His people centred approach to leadership can be a guide for us all. He built his success on camaraderie, loyalty, responsibility, determination and – above all – optimism. There are eight elements to ‘Shackleton’s Way’ as follows:

The path to leadership Fortitudine Vincimus  – by endurance we conquer. The values Shackleton learned from his family helped form his uniquely progressive leadership style. He turned bad experiences into valuable lessons and he insisted on respect for the individual in a climate that demanded cooperation.

Hiring an outstanding crew Shackleton built a crew around a core of experienced workers. He conducted unconventional interviews to find unique talent. His second in command was his most important hire. He looked for optimism and cheerfulness in the people he hired. He gave his staff the best compensation and equipment he could afford.

Creating a spirit of camaraderie Shackleton made careful observations before acting. He established order and routine so all his staff knew where they stood. He broke down traditional hierarchies. He was fair in his dealings with his staff. He used informal gatherings to build an esprit de corps.

Getting the best from each individual Shackleton led by example. He accepted and understood his crewmen’s quirks and weaknesses. He used informal one-to-one talks to build a bond with his men. He was always willing to help others get their work done. He helped each man reach their potential.

Leading effectively in a crisis Shackleton let everyone know that he was confident of success. He inspired optimism in everyone. He put down dissent by keeping the malcontents close to him. He got everyone to let go of the past and focus on the future. He worked to keep spirits high. He sometime led by doing nothing.

Forming teams for tough assignments Shackleton balanced talent and expertise in each team. He ensured all his groups were keeping pace. He remained visible and vigilant. He shored up the weakest links. He got teams to help each other.

Overcoming obstacles to reach a goal Shackleton took responsibility for getting the job done. He often took risks. He found the inspiration to continue. He kept sight of the big picture. He stepped outside his role as leader to personally help others in their own roles.

Shackleton showed the qualities of strong, effective leadership – enthusiasm, confidence, warmth, integrity, toughness, humility – whilst also recognising the importance of a team, and the trust and respect everyone in a team must show to each other whatever their rank.

It is by building a sense of teamwork and community just as Shackleton did nearly 100 years ago that we can overcome the unexpected detours and hurdles encountered on our own business journeys. Shackleton faced many of the problems we encounter today as business leaders:

  • bringing a diverse group of people together to work toward a common goal
  • bucking up the perpetual worries
  • keeping the disgruntled from poisoning the atmosphere
  • battling fatigue and challenge when things aren’t working
  • bringing order and success to a chaotic environment
  • working within challenging time scales and finite resources

Shackleton was a pioneer, but also an innovator in terms of ‘thinking on his feet’ when faced with unexpected challenges. Anyone can innovate once, all it takes is a good idea, some hard work, sufficient resources, and a little bit of luck. However, Shackleton did it time and time again on the Endurance expedition, and this is what is required in today’s business environment, which demands on-going leadership innovation to stay ahead of the pack.

The core of Shackleton’s leadership philosophy was persistence. Shackleton was essentially a fighter, afraid of nothing and nobody, but overall, he was human, overflowing with kindness and generosity, affectionate and loyal to all his crew. As we reflect back 100 years ago today on the first James Caird voyage, Shackleton’s personal motto of reach beyond your expectations seems so apt. That’s Shackleton’s Way. You wait, everyone has an Antarctic moment.

Hiring an outstanding team – leadership lessons from Ernest Shackleton

Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer, died 90 years ago yesterday, January 5th 1924, aged just 47, preparing for his third journey to the South Pole on board Quest. His Furthest South expedition of 1909 aboard Nimrod saw him reach just 97 miles short of the Pole before turning back, setting a new record, and his most famous expedition, the Endurance 1914-1916, also ended in failure.

Despite the disappointments, Shackleton became famous for his leadership, notably on the Endurance, which saw him save the lives of all his fellow travellers after major problems – 26 men were stranded on an iceflow for 18 months.  I’ve previously written about Shackleton’s leadership qualities in this blog:

BLOG: Shackleton said reach beyond your expectations

Lessons have been drawn from Shackleton’s leadership in planning and executing his expeditions, and how it can be applied to modern business thinking. On the Endurance expedition, it was his ability to assemble an outstanding crew that stands out. Shackleton was surrounded by a team of outstanding individuals, each of whom had a key role to play in the voyage.

So, lets look first at the key Endurance personnel, roles and responisbilities on the expedition, and then the recruitment strategy and process Shackleton implemented to form his team.

Deputy: Frank Wild Second in Command responsible for the day to day operations of the expedition plotting routes, actions and decisions on all aspects of the ship, including responsibility for the crew welfare.

Wild was a member of the Furthest South party during Shackleton’s 1907-1909 Nimrod expedition. An inconspicuous figure, yet there was something in his presence that inspired confidence, Wild was Shackleton’s indispensable second-in-command, and left in charge of the men on Elephant Island for the 18 months of isolation.

Wild never lost belief that they would be rescued by Shackleton and would not allow the other men to lose hope. Wild had a rare tact, wrote Shackleton and the happy knack of saying nothing and yet getting people to do things just as he requires them. Wild joined Shackleton for his final expedition aboard the Quest, being left in charge after Shackleton’s death. Wild died in poverty in South Africa in 1939.

Operations: Frank Worsley Captain of the Endurance and ultimately responsible for assessing the direction of the ship to the Pole. A native of New Zealand, Worsley ran away to sea at 16, apprenticing on a wool clipper, and went on to become an expert sailor with the Royal Naval Reserve in England

Worsley was a master navigator, and the success of the James Caird journey to South Georgia is largely due to his efforts when he navigated 800 miles of dangerous seas. Worsley died in 1943, aged 70 years, his ashes were scattered at sea.

Financial: Tom Crean Second Officer and responsible for the expedition’s budget. Born one of ten children in Country Kerry, Ireland. Crean was tall and tough as an oak. At 16 he joined the Royal Navy and joined Scott on both the Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions.

For his courage during Shackleton’s 1909 South Polar journey, Crean was awarded the Albert Medal. Crean made the James Caird journey to South Georgia and joined Shackleton and Worsley in the crossing of the island. He returned to Ireland and opened a pub called the South Pole Inn, still there today. He died in 1938.

Creative: Frank Hurley was the Endurance photographer. An independent-minded Australian, Hurley ran away from home aged 13. On the expedition, he quickly gained a reputation for stopping at nothing to secure a memorable photograph.

His brilliant photographs of the Endurance expedition are largely what his reputation rests on today, but he was also a noted WWI photographer. His Paget process photographs of the war are among the only known colour images of the conflict. He remained active until his death aged 76 in 1962. One evening he came home complaining of feeling unwell. He sat in his chair, had a cup of tea, fell asleep and never woke up.

Special Resources: Charles Green was the Endurance cook. Food played an important role with special diets essential, but Shackleton also used the gathering of the crew at meal times as a key part of his leadership, creating a spirit of camaraderie.

Green joined the Endurance at Buenos Aires, replacing the ship’s original cook, who had been sacked. He cooked imperturbably aboard Endurance, on the ice floes, and on Elephant Island; it is recorded that he was busily cooking a final meal in the galley as the Endurance broke up around him.

When he finally returned to England in late 1916 found that his parents had cashed his life insurance policy and his girlfriend had married someone else! Green died in 1974, aged 86.

Communications: Lionel Greenstreet First Officer responsible for the official log of the journey and communicating with the crew. He had experience in the merchant service before joining the expedition on the spur of the moment, 24 hours before Endurance sailed, when her original First Officer elected to volunteer for war duty.

Greenstreet saved the log of the Endurance and carried it with him at all times until the subsequent rescue. During WWI he served as captain of a Royal Navy tugboat, and during WWII, served on rescue ships.  He died in 1979 at the age of 89 – he was the last survivor of the Endurance expedition.

Human Resources: Dr. Alexander Macklin was the doctor and brought many new ideas to the medical care and attention of the crew using new equipment and technology. In medical school he discovered Nansen’s Furthest North, which ignited in him the desire to become an explorer.  Macklin was chosen to make the crossing of Antarctica had the expedition succeeded.

During WWI, Macklin served as a doctor during which he won the Military Cross for bravery in tending the wounded under fire.  Macklin joined Shackleton for the Quest expedition and was with Shackleton when he died; to him fell the terrible duty of performing a post-mortem on his friend. He died in 1967, 77 years old.

Staffing: Alfred Cheetham was Endurance Third Officer. Cheetham, born in Liverpool, was a long-time sailor, and had served aboard Morning, one of the vessels sent in relief of Scott’s 1902 expedition. After serving as Third Officer of the Nimrod, he served aboard Terra Nova during Scott’s fatal 1912 expedition.

A small, cheerful man, he was an integral part of the Endurance epic, keeping the sometimes troublesome trawler hands crew under control. After the Endurance expedition, Cheetham served in the Royal Navy, and was killed just weeks before the Armistice. Cheetham had been south of the Antarctic Circle more than any other man, spending nearly four man years there – still a record today.

So that was the outstanding crew, what about Shackleton’s recruitment strategy and process? Shackleton’s initial advertisement in The Times set the tone: Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger. Safe return doubtful, honour and recognition in case of success.

Life on polar expeditions isn’t for dreamers. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest and driest place on earth, covered by a layer of ice three miles thick. The mean annual temperature is -70°Fahrenheit, what type of men wanted to go there? Shackleton was clear in his mind the sort of men he wanted for his crew:

The men selected must be qualified for their work to meet the special Polar conditions. They must be able to live in harmony for a long period of time, without outside communication. It must be remembered that men whose desires lead them to the untrodden paths of the world have generally marked individuality. Character and temperament are as important as ability. I have to balance my types, their science or seamanship weighs little against the sort of chaps they are.

Clear in his mind the sort of men he wanted, what were the key elements to his recruitment strategy?

Build your crew around a core of experienced men Recruit experienced workers to establish a professional environment, they will support younger staff when the going gets tough. Recognise the value of expertise, whatever the age of the individual, and balance your team’s experience and age profile, look for common qualities – detailed below.

Chose the best senior management team Surround yourself with the best people you can in senior positions, who share your views of leadership and with whom there is absolute mutual trust, respect and loyalty. Pick people who compliment your management style without being yes-men, and have talent for working with others. Loyalty, cheerfulness, strength and experience are key qualities for your leadership team. They will have more contact day-to-day with your staff than you, and whilst handling issues and providing advice to the staff, are also your eyes and ears.

Recruit people who share your vision and enthusiasm Shackleton made a mistake on his first polar journey by hiring individuals who didn’t fit the bold, risk-taking culture of exploration. For the Endurance he recruited a captain with bravado in spades, he was bold, a little eccentric – a mad-hat just right for the job.

Be different. Shackleton conducted unconventional interviews to unearth unique talent Shackleton sorted applications from candidates into three piles – mad, possible and hopeless. His interviews were freewheeling exchanges, brief but intense. How candidates answered were more important than the content of their replies, he was looking for subtle indications of their ability to be part of a team and their enthusiasm. Shackleton believed the touchstone for a man’s spirit was his personality, and his interviews went deeper than job experience and expertise, asking questions that revealed a candidate’s personality, values, and perspective on work and life.

Shackleton liked optimists, as they were the most likely team players. Shackleton wanted men who contributed to the esprit de corps with a passion for the journey ahead. He looked for positive people: loyalty comes easier to a cheerful person than to one who carries a heavy countenance. Of course real talent must accompany personality, but surround yourself with cheerful, optimistic people, they will reward you with the loyalty and camaraderie vital to inspire others to success, and also help you keep positive too.

Seek recruits who really want the job Shackleton needed hard, brave workers. He himself put all his heart and soul into his work and wanted men who would do the same. Those hungriest for the job usually proved their mettle. He weeded out the prima donnas – there were no passengers on his expeditions. At a certain point, action is what gets the job done, and action is determined by attitude to simply getting things done. Often the need is for common sense and some good old fashioned elbow grease.

Recruited for the expertise you lack Shackleton was not a scientist but that was the purpose of the journey, so he recruited people with superior education and expertise. He liked his key men to be tough, clever and inventive.Hire those with talents and expertise you lack, don’t feel threatened by them as they will help you stay on the cutting edge.

Shackleton made sure every man he hired knew exactly what was expected of him Shackleton took great pains to never mislead with false promises – as shown by The Times advert at the outset – he made it clear each man’s standing depended ultimately on their contribution to the team. Shackleton did this by constantly reinforcing a personal connection with all his crew individually. Spell out clearly to new employees the exact duties and requirements of the job, and how they will be rewarded. Many failed work relationships start with a lack of communication.

Ninety years on from his poignant death at the outset on his third attempt to cross the Antarctic on foot – a journey that was only successfully completed some forty years later by the British explorer Vivian Fuchs using motorised vehicles – Shackleton remains a visionary leader.

His approach to recruiting and leading people provides food for thought we can adopt and apply to business today, offering insightful guidance for hiring your own outstanding crew.