Shackleton’s Way of Forming Groups for the Toughest Tasks

November 2, 2009 — Leave a comment

I’m getting some great responses from this series of leadership lessons from Ernest Shackleton.  I find this particular list especially helpful in ministry.

Shackleton’s Way of Forming Groups for the Toughest Tasks:

1)      The best way to handle the biggest tasks is often to divide the staff into teams. Create units that are self-sufficient, but that understand they won’t all be equal. It is more important that the teams are balanced when considering the big picture.

2)      Make sure you have some cracker-jack groups that can handle the toughest challenges. They can also help others, to ensure no team falls far behind.

3)      Give the tedious assignments to the workhorses who don’t complain. Let them know you are aware that you are giving them an outsized task and that you count on their goodwill and exceptional fortitude to get the job done.

4)      Empower the team leaders so they have the authority to handle their own group, but keep an eye on the details. Never let yourself be surprised by problems down the road.

5)      Don’t be afraid to change your mind when you see your plan isn’t working. You won’t look indecisive if you show the logic of your changes.

6)      Be self-sacrificing. Give whatever perks it is in your power to dispense.

7)      Give a show of confidence in those acting in your stead. It’s important that your support staff maintain in your absence the same level of competency you set.

8)      Never point out the weaknesses of individuals in front of others. Often, it’s better to let everyone share in a remedy aimed at a few. Chances are, even the strongest will benefit from it.


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