Leading on the Edge: Extraordinary Stories and Leadership Insights from The World's Most Extreme Workplace
November 2013, Wrightbooks
In Leading on the Edge, successful business speaker and consultant Rachael Robertson shares the lessons she learned as leader of a year-long expedition to the wilds of Antarctica. Leading eighteen strangers around the clock for a full year—through months of darkness and with no escape from the frigid cold, howling winds, and each other—Robertson learned powerful lessons about what real, authentic leadership is. Here, she offers a deeply honest and humorous account of what it takes to survive and lead in the harshest environment on Earth. What emerges from her graphic account is a series of powerful and practical lessons for business leaders and managers everywhere.
- Features practical leadership lessons that are particularly helpful for any leader who must get the best out of the team they've got
- Features solutions to many challenges common to all workplaces
- Includes real excerpts from Robertson's personal journals through twelve months of leading in the most challenging environment in the world
- Written by a popular speaker and business leader who has appeared at more than 350 national and international conferences and events for a wide range of industries
Leading on the Edge explains what it's like to take charge when you've no place to hide and how truly harsh environments can serve as a leadership laboratory that results in truly effective, authentic leadership.
Part I: How I got there 1
1 Leadership can be learned, and taught, early 3
2 Very few decisions in life are irreversible, so make some! 11
3 Always look for ways to extend yourself 19
4 Get out of your depth — it’s a great way to learn to swim 25
5 Don’t expect leadership to be an easy ride 31
Part II: Antarctica beckons 37
6 Sometimes the right thing happens for the wrong reason! 39
7 People notice when you try to be someone you’re not 47
8 You know people by what they do, not what they say they do 55
9 First prepare yourself, then leave your comfort zone 63
Part III: Preparing to leave 71
10 Seeing what’s wrong is easy — the hard part is the fix 73
11 Understand the game, and play your hand carefully 85
12 Ask ‘why?’, then keep asking why 95
13 Adventure is not without risk 105
14 Try to stay positive: even the stormiest seas eventually subside 111
15 A handpicked support team can be essential 119
Part IV: Summer in Antarctica 127
16 Make the right decision the right way 129
17 Step up onto the balcony — but you’ll need time and support 137
18 Ambiguity and leadership go hand in hand 145
19 Feeling stressed and overworked? It could be your boundaries 153
20 Good leaders know when to show emotion 163
21 Think ahead and know what you will do in an emergency 171
22 When you’re spending all your time managing, don’t forget to lead 179
Part V: Antarctic winter 189
23 It’s important to know your people, not just the work they do 191
24 As a leader you are being watched, always 201
25 Find a reason, any reason, to celebrate 207
26 Check in on your people: ask R U OK? 219
27 Take care of the little things 227
28 Judgement comes with experience 235
29 ‘No triangles’ takes effort and persistence 241
30 Watch out for three-quarter time — keep your energy up 249
Part VI: The return 259
31 Go the distance 261
Appendix A: What it takes to be an inspirational leader 275
Appendix B: Build teamwork with ‘no triangles’ 281
Rachael Robertson is one of the most in-demand
inspirational business speakers and leadership consultants in the
world. After more than 20 years' experience leading teams in
complex and challenging environments, Rachael is now transforming
leadership around the globe.
If you think your job is tough, imagine leading a one-year expedition of 17 strangers where you’re on duty all day, every day in the coldest, windiest, and darkest place imaginable.
Leading On The Edge is a compelling account of Rachael Robertson’s inspiring journey to the wilds of Antarctica, as one of the youngest people to ever lead an expedition and one of the first women.
After 15 years leading diverse and remote teams and business units, Rachael took the jump and led the 58th annual expedition to Antarctica after seeing the job advertised in the paper.
Based on Rachael’s journals, Leading On The Edge provides a rare insight into the extreme highs and lows of leading a team of 17, round the clock for a full year—through months of darkness and with no escape from the frigid cold, howling winds, and each other. Through this inspirational journey, Rachael discovered powerful lessons about what real, authentic leadership is and how to build a resilient and effective team from a group of diverse individuals she hadn’t personally recruited.
Learn about ‘life in the freezer’, the plane crash, how ‘the bacon war’ nearly derailed a $20M science program and other unique stories backed by uncommon insight.
Managers, leaders and anyone stuck in a rut will be inspired as Rachael shares her leadership skills and practical tools developed by running a community of workers in one of the world’s harshest environments.
“The intensity of this leadership role, where the leader is on-duty all day, every day, for 12 months with no respite, gave me the opportunity to road test my leadership ideas the hard way - without the luxury of peers, a desk or any way out! It was a ‘leadership laboratory’ in the most extreme, hostile environment on Earth,” said Rachael Robertson.
Leading on the Edge explains what it's like to take charge of a team when you've no place to hide and how truly harsh environments can serve as a leadership laboratory that results in truly effective, authentic leadership.