REQUIRED reading for LEADERS – E. Shackleton’s LESSONS

 In Author, Body language, Delivery, Entrepreneur, Environment, Facial expression, Gesturing, Learning from Luminaries, Luminary, Message creation, Mindset, News, Owning space, The Winning Voice, Voice

Excuse my temerity with title of ‘required reading’.

However, I feel strongly that if you are a leader, you should read following passage about how Ernest Shackleton ‘showed up’ and led one of the most courageous survival missions of all time, and how his leadership lessons apply to leaders during the COVID-19 crisis. (bolding of text is mine).


‘From his Antarctic experience, Shackleton knew that one of most important tools he had in accomplishing his mission was his presence. How he showed up each day in front of his men – what kind of energy he gave off, how determined he looked, even how he carried his body – had a huge impact on the team. He used what we would today call his emotional intelligence to maintain his determination and bravery; when these flagged, he never let his men know.

This is an important lesson for our time. Leaders often forget that all eyes are on them – as they give a speech, sit in a meeting, walk down a hallway, or glance furtively at their smart phone during dinner. This is especially true when the volatility of a situation increases. In these moments, people instinctively look to leaders, searching their words, actions and body language for guidance. This means that individuals in positions of authority must learn to embody their mission not only in what they say and do, but also in how they show up. When a leader appears assured and levelheaded, other are more likely to respond to the call.” ##


All eyes are on you.

How will you show up today, and tomorrow and the next day and the next?

Every time someone can see or hear you it forms and impression and a potential for loss or gain. If you maximise the number of desired impressions you want to leave with your followers, you’ll maximise how well they will respond to your call.

(## I had photocopied the passage from a book that I don’t have the reference to. If you know it, please send me it. Thanks).

Own the Conversation

Here are practical things you can do to show up and maximise the desired impressions you want to leave with your followers

Number ONE: Stand and sit tall. Imagine that your neck is tall at the back. Imagine there is a piece of string protruding from the top of your head and a puppeteer is pulling it to the ceiling.

Number TWO Enter a room/greet people radiating warmth and acceptance and calm enthusiasm. When we radiate warmth and acceptance conversations just seem to flow. When we enter a room with a level of calm and enthusiasm we attract people toward us. (C. Vos)

Number THREE Carry yourself with SODA (Stop; Observe; Decide; Act) in mind. Most people just Act. Just ‘acting’, can convey a lack of certainty. Keeping SODA in mind, will help you carry your body with certainty.

In practice, this is how SODA might work. Imagine you’ve finished a conversation with a team member. Rather that immediately walking away for the person as you think of the next thing to do, try this. Stop your body, and think of what you need to do next and Observe what you see around you. (eg. ‘I need to go meet X to discuss the Videoconference schedule’ and I’ll take the stairs) . Then, Decide (make a decision to do that action). Then Act. Start walking to where you’ll meet X.

Number FOUR: Ensure you have energy in your voice (get trusted feedback on this) and use ‘measuring cup’ (versus ‘waterhose’) speaking to project a sense of certainty. Here is an explanation of ‘measuring cup’ speaking.

1. You have a thought to share.

2. You put that thought into a virtual measuring cup.

3. You speak that thought (that is, tip the measure of words out of the cup).

4. Pause (put the ’empty cup’ down – while maintaining a silent pause gap).

5. Refill cup with a new thought – and then repeat the sequence.

It’s important when using this technique, to have varying measures of words to avoid monotony.


p.s. A reader pointed out that in yesterday’s post I didn’t share the correct link to the Morrison losing his cool post. Here it is: Morrison losing his cool  Thank you Helen Parker for alerting me to this error.

In addition and on reflection, I’ve changed my mind on what is the first job of a leader is. Acknowledging that providing clarity is important, my view is that providing certainty is more important in a leader. Therefore, the first job of a leader is to Provide certainty when there is doubt, and hope when there is fear. 

p.p.s.  I have developed a 30 minute presentation (delivered by videoconference) entitled:

How to Reshape your personal communication for a videoconference world. Points covered in the presentation include how to limit daydreaming, and how to adapt your voice and gestures to deliver impact ‘through a screen’.  Please contact me if this presentation interests you or someone you know. michael@michaelkelly.com.au   0418 215 049

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