Scott 100 Day 116 26th February 1912 : People & Relationships

People & Relationships. Huntford described yesterdays criticism of Bowers by Scott as an indication that little strains were starting to show. Bowers was hurt by this criticism of his ability on the ski and Huntford feels it was too late for this level of detailed examination of the trip. They should have been better trained and skilled at skiing. There had been indications of strains in this team long before this, even back last summer. Campbell, Amundsen and Shackleton all had similar tensions in their camps. For Bowers it must have been difficult, loyal and strong and the man who walked so far while the others had ski, this hurt much deeper than the words or there truth. At the start of the journey south Amundsen set off too soon and had to return to base camp as the weather was too bad. He was criticised by one of his men, Johanson. Amundsen dropped him from the polar team and never forgave him. Huntford states, ‘unshakeable in loyalty and gratitude, Amundsen was implacable in hostility’. Shackleton also had tensions and difficulties and those, such as Chippy McNeish, who crossed him were never forgiven and Shackleton even ensured the medal the other men received was withheld.

Scott’s Journal 26th February 1912. Temperature continues to fall and -21 today. They are getting cold and the day foot gear does not dry out at night and the nights are very cold. They can keep to the tracks easily at present. Scott concludes, ‘Nine hours’ solid marching has given us 11 1/2 miles. Only 43 miles from the next depot. Wonderfully fine weather but cold, very cold. Nothing dries and we get our feet cold too often. We want more food yet and especially more fat. Fuel is woefully short. We can scarcely hope to get a better surface at this season, but I wish we could have some help from the wind, though it might shake us badly if the temp. didn’t rise’.

Commentary. Yesterday Bowers is reported as being hurt by criticism from Scott over his technique on the ski. A minor moment perhaps but one that highlights the importance of interpersonal relationship. The criticism maybe minor but the hurt could be severe. Other relationships on this expedition are often discussed by writers, Oates, Teddy Evans, Meares and several others all had trying interpersonal moments. The same is true within Campbell’s team as he and Priestley had some tense interactions. Shackleton clashed at moments with men in his team and Amundsen moved swiftly to isolate disagreement. Creating the right environment for the team is a vital role for the leader. An open environment in which challenging questions flow up allow the leader to make better decisions. The leader needs to promote this atmosphere. Criticism in any direction can be far more devastating in its impact than its content would indicate. People will forget and forgive actions but emotions and feelings are rarely forgotten. Yet the leader must also know the moment when crisis and task require action from them. How the leader and the team survive these crisis moments is set in motion in their preceding behaviours. When things are going well leaders often drop team events, team meetings and fail to prepare the team for future challenges. Scott had a level of self awareness, he knew he could have dark moments and difficulty controlling his temper and mood. How had he prepared his team for being his team, for coping and working with him as leader as well as the expedition task ?

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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