From our research on teams at The Edge—the limits of human endurance—we have identified a set of fundamental strategies that can be applied in any challenging environment. Our two programs, Leadership at The Edge and Teamwork at The Edge, recount dramatic adventure stories and convey critical strategies for success.

Both presentations provide riveting examples of the extraordinary difference that strong leadership and teamwork can make under conditions of adversity, uncertainty and change. The presentations include our own photos and videos, from our expedition to Antarctica and experience in the Sydney to Hobart Race aboard a 60-foot sailboat.

The programs incorporate opportunities for group discussion. These group interactions will identify ways in which learnings from the adventure story can be applied to your team.

Whichever gripping presentation is chosen, the story will provide a compass for leadership and teamwork at The Edge, and will serve as a powerful metaphor that inspires resilience and persistence in tough times.

Leadership at The Edge

The Leadership at The Edge presentation recounts the saga of legendary Antarctic explorer, Ernest Shackleton. On December 5, 1914, Shackleton and 27 men sailed from South Georgia Island in the Southern Ocean aboard a wooden vessel named the Endurance. Their ambitious goal was to be the first to cross the Antarctic continent.

Forty five days after their departure, disaster struck. Endurance was beset by solid pack ice, and the expedition was trapped. For nearly two years, Shackleton and his crew were stranded in the icy sea. They endured unimaginable hardships: brutal cold, total darkness, incessant hunger, danger, and utter desolation. Facing these challenges with astonishing good cheer, Shackleton and his crew returned, without loss of life, after 634 days in the Frozen South.

How did Shackleton inspire his crew to such extraordinary levels of courage, unity, and commitment? The Leadership at The Edge presentation answers that question, and explains how Shackleton’s leadership approach can be applied to leadership challenges in today’s business environment.

The Leadership at The Edge program incorporates our own videos and photographs from our trip to retrace Shackleton’s footsteps, as well as original photographs from the 1914-1916 expedition. It can be delivered as a keynote speech, or as a longer presentation with more time for group discussion and application of the strategies.

 

Teamwork at The Edge

The Teamwork at The Edge presentation recounts the contemporary story of the AFR Midnight Rambler, winners of the treacherous 1998 Sydney to Hobart Offshore Ocean Race. This 723-mile, deep water challenge—often called the “Everest” of ocean racing—is considered one of the toughest in the world. The Sydney to Hobart Race is always challenging, but in 1998 conditions were extraordinarily dangerous.

As the fleet sailed down the coast of Australia, boats were hit by an unexpected weather-bomb—a massive storm that created 80 foot waves and winds over 100 miles an hour. Tragically, six sailors died and another 55 were rescued by helicopter in what became the largest search and rescue operation in Australia’s history.

While many boats tried to maneuver around the storm, the crew of the AFR Midnight Rambler believed their best chance of survival was to head directly into its path. Their decision to head into the eye of the storm, along with their extraordinary tenacity, optimism, courage, and teamwork, enabled this group of amateur sailors to out-perform highly paid professionals on bigger boats, and to win the race. They were the smallest boat in 10 years to win the Tattersall’s Cup.

What were the factors underneath this stunning victory? This inspiring presentation answers that question, and explores the nature of building and leading a high-performance team in the face of change and adversity.

The Teamwork at The Edge program incorporates our own videos and photographs from the 2006 Sydney to Hobart Race, as well as dramatic video footage and photography of the 1998 race. It can be delivered as a keynote speech, or as a longer presentation with more time for group discussion and application of the strategies.

Watch an interview with the crew of AFR Midnight Rambler

The Midnight Rambler in 70 foot waves

(Animation by Geomatrix)