Leadership At The Edge®

Leadership at the Edge® is a unique presentation which harnesses the power of a remarkable tale of leadership and team work under adversity and change; the extraordinary saga of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition. This inspirational story is skillfully used as a Metaventure® (combining the learning features of metaphors and adventures), to explore and embed strategies for effective leadership and teamwork, particularly in organisations in a changing and challenging setting. 

The Metaventure® approach empowers participants to go beyond traditional learning to experience concepts in a way that allows for deeper understanding, better retention and immediate application to their work. The presentation traces the 1914-1916 Trans-Antarctic expedition led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. 


Shackleton and his crew of 27 set out in December 1914 aboard the Endurance, and quickly encountered ice conditions that were unusually harsh. Only 60 miles from Antarctica, the Endurance became trapped in pack ice. For 10 months they drifted, locked in the grip of the ice, until the enormous pressure crushed the ship. With limited supplies, the crew was forced to survive on the ice floes, where they were stranded for five more months. When they finally reached open water, they took to three small lifeboats in a hazardous “open water” journey amidst the jostling icebergs. Five days later, they landed on a bleak, rocky and uninhabited island with no hope of rescue. Shackleton and five others soon set out in one of the life boats on an incredible 800-mile journey through the world’s worst seas to reach help. However even when they made landfall on Sth Georgia Island, as a final challenge, they had to trek over near impassable terrain to reach the whaling station on the other side of the island. After four attempts, Shackleton finally rescued all crew members—miraculously, after the 634 day ordeal, no one perished. 

How do teams overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles? How do leaders inspire their people to extraordinary levels of courage, unity and commitment? How do we create the teamwork and dedication so crucial to success in changing and adverse times? 

Extensive research conducted by Syncretics Group shows that the survival of the Shackleton expedition team was due to the exceptional leadership and teamwork. This compelling story of triumph against “life and death” circumstances becomes a metaphor that connects the experience and discussions. Using actual photographs, drawings and journal entries from the expedition, participants feel like they are part of the crew as the gripping narrative becomes the departure point for an intense and unforgettable experience. Facilitated group discussions, exercises, assessment, reflection and action planning allow participants to leave with practical strategies that they can apply immediately back on the job. 


More and more business leaders are discovering that Shackleton’s saga provides an exciting and powerful case study against which they can examine today’s business challenges. The Leadership at the Edge® presentation explores and applies the Ten Strategies for Success—strategies that the Syncretics Group research shows make all the difference between leaders and teams that succeed and those that fail: 

1. Never lose sight of the ultimate goal, and focus energy on short-term objectives.

2. Set a personal example with visible, memorable symbols and behaviors.

3. Instill optimism and self-confidence, but stay grounded in reality.

4. Take care of yourself: Maintain your stamina and let go of guilt.

5. Reinforce the team message constantly: “We are one—we live or die together.”

6. Minimise status differences and insist on courtesy and mutual respect.

7. Master conflict—deal with anger in small doses, engage dissidents and avoid needless power struggles.

8. Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about!

9. Be willing to take the Big Risk.

10. Never give up—there’s always another move.



The 90 ~ 120 minute presentation typically includes the following:

  • An introduction and overview of the Leadership at The Edge® concept as a way to promote leadership, teamwork and organisational effectiveness.

  • A detailed presentation of the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition, using a variety of media.

  • An extensive review of the Ten Strategies for Success, drawn from our research on leaders and teams that have performed at The Edge, including a self assessment opportunity.

  • If appropriate, group discussions that explore the essence of leadership and teamwork required in today’s organisations, particularly in demanding conditions.



Conference Keynote.
Anchoring Leadership or Team Development Process.
Managing change & adversity.

Teamworks at the Edge®, Leadership at the Edge® and Metaventure® are registered service marks of the Syncretics Group Inc. and are under exclusive license to Quest Group Global and Sales Shift in Australia.