Scott 100 Day 44 14th December : Competition

Competition. As the three teams pull the sledges up the glacier Scott’s journal often mentions which sledge is leading and overtaking as well as the performance of the teams. The 12 men are 1 party marching towards the pole but are also 3 manhauling teams in competition. Fiennes describes Scott as being able to ‘drive himself and his men beyond normal levels of endurance and Cheery-Garrard described it as the great push of the man’. Scott extracted magnificent performances out of the men, the effort they gave was enormous. The fact that the 3 sledges seemed to be competing against each other is part of the drive of Scott, the make up of the men but also the healthy and productive competition which enthused them and drove them forward. Teddy Evans was competitive but had done most manhauling and so fell behind, Bowers is also competitive and notes in his diary the pleasure of beating Scott.

Scott’s Journal December 14th 1911. Scott reports indigestion and soaky clothes keeping him awake, they are starting to suffer from cramp and their lips are raw and blistered. The snowblindness suffered by some of the men has started to improve. Evan’s was off first and after some initial difficulty made good progress, Bowers sets off next followed by Scott’s team. Scott’s team caught up with Evan’s and offered to take on extra weight but Evans’ ‘pride would not allow such help’. Scott’s team swapped sledges with Bowers and pull it easy while Bowers struggles with Scott’s sledge. Keohane and Cherry-Garrad are looking the weakest of the party at this stage. The party all become very hot on the march and they sweated through all their clothes and took off their jerseys and then became cold and clammy. All the hardship is compensated for by a good march. The weather ahead looks poor and their are crevasses in the area. The soft snow seems to be ending and the firmer ice underfoot is welcomed, ‘it is splendid to be getting along and find adequate return for the work we are putting in’.

Commentary. Scott was one of the oldest in the party but a driven and relentless leader. He was manhauling with a fresh team. The natural competition between the teams served the purpose of progression. But it wasn’t calculated or respectful of ability or previous effort. Competition could be using up energy that they did not have the supplies to replace. There is often an element of competition within teams and competition between peers can be healthy. The good leader needs to understand the role of competition and harness it’s positive, motivating and energetic elements while reducing the potential harmful risks of jealousy, withdrawl of support and selfishness.

About hutpoint

Interested in leadership, teamwork, resistance, perseverence and change. A former senior nurse dedicated to learning from and sharing with other flawed humans.
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