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Leading on the Edge: Extraordinary Stories and Leadership Insights from The World's Most Extreme Workplace

Book Description

Lessons on authentic leadership from the 58th annual Antarctic expedition

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.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. A note from the author
  6. Acknowledgements
  7. Preface
  8. Part I: How I got there
    1. Chapter 1: Leadership can be learned, and taught, early
      1. Leader without a title
      2. A code to live by
    2. Chapter 2: Very few decisions in life are irreversible, so make some!
      1. Convinced by an act of grace
      2. Me … a park ranger?
    3. Chapter 3: Always look for ways to extend yourself
      1. Acting up
      2. The power of influence
    4. Chapter 4: Get out of your depth — it's a great way to learn to swim
      1. Headed for Chief Ranger
      2. Knocked back, but a new opportunity emerges
      3. A glimmer of hope
    5. Chapter 5: Don't expect leadership to be an easy ride
      1. Into the cauldron
      2. And then it got nasty
  9. Part II: Antarctica beckons
    1. Chapter 6: Sometimes the right thing happens for the wrong reason!
      1. How do you recruit for values?
      2. The selection process
      3. The phone interview
      4. Shortlisted!
      5. The screening process
      6. Transparency and honesty
    2. Chapter 7: People notice when you try to be someone you're not
      1. Tough competition
      2. Playing games
      3. Not playing games
    3. Chapter 8: You know people by what they do, not what they say they do
      1. The penny drops
      2. Interview on a double bed
      3. Leaving boot camp on a high
      4. Breaking the news
    4. Chapter 9: First prepare yourself, then leave your comfort zone
      1. The appointment
      2. Media frenzy
      3. Leaving Parks Victoria
      4. The first crisis of confidence
  10. Part III: Preparing to leave
    1. Chapter 10: Seeing what's wrong is easy — the hard part is the fix
      1. Expedition leader school
      2. How Antarctic expeditions work
      3. Meeting my fellow expeditioners
      4. Not ‘one of the boys’
      5. When a culture is broken
      6. Mutual respect — the foundation of our desired culture
    2. Chapter 11: Understand the game, and play your hand carefully
      1. Cooperation through shared understanding
      2. Sharing leadership around
      3. Information is power
    3. Chapter 12: Ask ‘why?’, then keep asking why
      1. Fire training
      2. Falling apart at the seams
      3. Why we acted the way we did
    4. Chapter 13: Adventure is not without risk
      1. Boat training and a near-death experience
      2. The expedition nears
    5. Chapter 14: Try to stay positive: even the stormiest seas eventually subside
      1. At the dock
      2. We set sail
      3. The Southern Ocean
      4. Into Antarctic waters
    6. Chapter 15: A handpicked support team can be essential
      1. Going off half-cocked
      2. Alcohol and culture
      3. Davis resupply
    7. Part IV: Summer in Antarctica
    8. Chapter 16: Make the right decision the right way
      1. Allocation of scarce resources
      2. Leadership style — you scratch my back …
      3. A Chinese welcome
    9. Chapter 17: Step up onto the balcony — but you'll need time and support
      1. Loyal deputies
      2. Food and other supplies
    10. Chapter 18: Ambiguity and leadership go hand in hand
      1. Shades of grey … well, blue really
      2. Strike while the iron's hot
      3. White Christmas
    11. Chapter 19: Feeling stressed and overworked? It could be your boundaries
      1. Sex on the ice
      2. A blooming relationship
      3. Sleepout and New Year's Eve
      4. It's boundaries, not time management
    12. Chapter 20: Good leaders know when to show emotion
      1. The planes arrive and the pace picks up
      2. How not to prepare for a sleepout in Antarctica
      3. Unauthorised cricket and a taste of things to come
    13. Chapter 21: Think ahead and know what you will do in an emergency
      1. The plane crash
      2. Crisis assessment
      3. Saved by a blizzard
      4. Crisis leadership
    14. Chapter 22: When you're spending all your time managing, don't forget to lead
      1. Driving under the influence
      2. The end of science
      3. The end of summer
      4. The problem with Texas
      5. Goodbye summerers
      6. Prime Aussie beef and potato gems for the Russians
    15. Part V: Antarctic winter
    16. Chapter 23: It's important to know your people, not just the work they do
      1. Some myths dispelled
      2. Time on our hands
      3. Daytime jollies
      4. Super Tuesday
    17. Chapter 24: As a leader you are being watched, always
      1. Perpetual scrutiny
      2. Never off duty
    18. Chapter 25: Find a reason, any reason, to celebrate
      1. Families and friends missed
      2. If in doubt, make something up
      3. Time for a holiday
      4. Caring for our physical selves
    19. Chapter 26: Check in on your people: ask R U OK?
      1. I get toasted
      2. Midwinter
      3. Midwinter swim
    20. Chapter 27: Take care of the little things
      1. The bacon war
      2. But the bacon war wasn't about bacon
      3. Bacon wars are symptoms of deeper issues, usually about respect
      4. Mr Scrapey
    21. Chapter 28: Judgement comes with experience
      1. Who cut your hair?
      2. Footy killed the radio star
      3. Match the person to the task
    22. Chapter 29: ‘No triangles’ takes effort and persistence
      1. Different strokes for different folks
      2. No triangles, and difficult conversations
      3. Return of the sun
    23. Chapter 30: Watch out for three-quarter time — keep your energy up
      1. Where to next?
      2. Three-quarter time syndrome
    24. Part VI: The return
    25. Chapter 31: Go the distance
      1. For goodness’ sake, go outside!
      2. Preparing the station
      3. New faces and the newspaper
      4. 120 new souls arrive
      5. Letting go of the reins
      6. Goodbye Antarctica, it's been real
      7. The journey home
      8. Reflections
  11. Appendix A: What it takes to be an inspirational leader
  12. Appendix B: Build teamwork with ‘no triangles’
  13. Index