Shackleton Leadership Experience

Offered at various locations

Based upon the extraordinary story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition to Antarctica in 1914, this program explores the reasons Shackleton has been called “the greatest leader that ever came on God’s earth, bar none.” Having saved the lives of 27 men shipwrecked with him in the frozen seas of Antarctica, Shackleton’s resilient leadership serves as a powerful example of how to develop the skill sets and processes required to increase individual, team, and organizational capacities to the highest level. Through a combination of historical case studies and small group discussions, participants will draw inspiration from Shackleton’s example and examine their techniques and instincts for thinking clearly, acting decisively, and inspiring their teams to reach for new heights.


Who Should Attend?

The program helps shape the mindset and sharpens the skill sets of experienced leaders who are in the very midst of leading their teams through challenging environments. It can be tailored to meet the needs of middle and senior executive audiences and can be delivered in small or large group settings.  This program may also be adapted to meet the needs of newly appointed and even less experienced managers who would benefit from hitting the ground running successfully at this early turn in their careers.

Additional Information

On December 5, 1914, Sir Ernest H. Shackleton and 27 men under his command sailed from South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic aboard the ship Endurance. Since the South Pole had been reached a few years earlier by other polar explorers, Shackleton’s goal was to be the first to traverse the continent by foot.

In January 1915, with Antarctica far off, but in view, the Endurance became trapped in a sea of ice. For nine months, the ship and the men lay stranded in the frozen mass. Then, in October 1915, the unthinkable happened: the Endurance was crushed by sheets of heavy ice, and Shackleton and his crew were forced off the ship.  With his men’s survival as his new goal, Shackleton began to focus his every effort on getting them all back alive. The men salvaged what they could and camped on the surrounding ice floes for several months, surviving mostly on seals and penguins, sleeping on the cold wet ice, and enduring unrelenting subzero temperatures.

In April of 1916, when the ice began to break up, Shackleton and his men set out in three lifeboats to find a distant island where whalers might be their only hope of rescue. Upon landing on their only option, Elephant Island, after nearly 15 months at sea, the men were relieved to be on dry land. However, Shackleton knew that this island offered no hope of rescue as whalers traditionally avoided it due to its uninhabitable topography. In an act of true courage, Shackleton and five carefully selected members of the crew set out in one of the lifeboats on a heroic 800-mile journey across the most treacherous seas known to the planet to find South Georgia Island and seek help.

Miraculously, the six men found South Georgia but met many more obstacles upon reaching the island. Four months later, on August 31, 1916, 22 months since the launch of the expedition, Shackleton secured a loaner ship and guided it to Elephant Island to rescue the 22 men he left behind.

Unlike most of the other polar expeditions of similar travail, every man survived–not only in fairly good health, but also in good spirits–all due to the skills of the leader.

Shackleton Leadership Experience ProgramTell Me More

Selected Case Studies

  • Sir Ernest Shackleton, Expedition Leader 
  • Frank Wild, Second in Command 
  • Frank Hurley, Expedition Photographer 

Selected Leadership Lessons

  • The Power of Vision 
  • Optimism and Resilience 
  • Building Trust 
  • Leading by Example 
  • Managing Disunity 


This is a single-day program delivered at the location of the client’s choosing. Through the use of astonishing film footage – much of it recorded from the actual expedition – and interactive media, participants gain an in-depth understanding of not only the experience, but also the leadership. The program concludes with an after-action review (AAR) where participants tie the workshop to their contemporary leadership roles. 


Tell Me More