Another Trip South. Cherry-Garrard and Gerof arrive back at Hutpoint today. Cherry-Garrard reports arriving back worried about Gerof however once back at camp he made a swift recovery. The news they returned to was mixed, Teddy Evans was recovering well and was to return home on the Terra Nova but Campbell and his 5 men could not be picked up from Evans Coves and so would be spending a winter on the ice. The recollection of Cherry-Garrard was that at this time they, ‘were not unduly alarmed by the polar party’. They did start to think of other sledging options as the dogs were not fit for further work. Atkinson decided that it would be pointless to head out and try and rescue Campbell but new mules and dogs had been delivered by the Terra Nova and so a plan to head south could be developed. If the polar party were not back in the next 5 days they would head south again.
Scott’s Journal 15th March 1912. NO ENTRY
Commentary. The actions that are taken now will be defining, lifelong memories and possible permanent scars. In success flaws and mistakes are forgotten, poor behaviour ignored and broken rules excused. In failure every conversation, note, action and inaction will be examined over time and time again, forgiveness will be rare and blame the predominant factor. Atkinson and Cherry-Garrard are making decisions and taking actions the consequences of which they would live with for ever. Future writing by both of them will endorse each other but both will suffer the emotional turmoil of this expedition. Cherry-Garrard will have moments of depression and guilt, he will ask himself if he could and should have done more, others will also ask that question of him. Atkinson’s ability as a leader and decision maker will also be scrutinised. Leadership moments of significance require an element of risk taking – the making of decisions with incomplete information and with uncertain outcomes. For the leader to function in this moment requires courage and conviction. Understanding the moment, knowing the purpose, exploring the ethical and moral component of actions, seeking opinion, accepting risk and sharing intent are mechanisms to check and balance the actions of leadership, but in the end the leader takes responsibility and acts. For most modern leaders in our organisations this may appear as having difficult conversations, challenging practice, implementing change, managing poor performance, speaking out when it is easier to stay quiet and doing the right thing despite the consequences.