‘Leadership is neither born, nor taught: it is circumstance calling forth a champion’
- Earle de Blonville: ‘Savage Coast. Inside Australia’s first Arctic expedition’


Leadership is an industry which in 2022 faces an existential crisis of meaning and relevance.

Today’s $360 billion-a-year ‘leadership industry’ emerged in the 1980s when business schools began selling status by
rebranding management programs as leadership.

Leadership is now an almost meaningless porridge of 40 theories, 1,500 definitions and millions of books, taught globally by people with no field leadership experience. The paradox is that at every level, it seems, everyone now calls themselves a leader,
while leaders worldwide have never been held in such low repute.

From our earliest beginnings, leadership has underpinned mankind’s powerful and creative urge to explore. How many know that a million years ago human seafarers made regular crossings of the Strait of Gibraltar in sailing vessels, and 850,000-year-old stone tools
found on Flores and Crete prove early man’s adventurous curiosity was driven by great leadership?

Throughout history, leadership born of circumstance has advanced civilisation through huge challenges, threats and uncertainty, from human conflict, geographical catastrophe, societal upheaval, or pandemics. Leadership has always been the human response.

In Ukraine, as if to remind us, leadership is being restored for all to view: circumstance has chosen its champion. However, looming over the whole planet, and completely reshaping our human future, rapidly escalating climate catastrophe
is already calling forth champions everywhere. So how do we prepare?

Leadership cannot be learned in a classroom, only in the crucible of life. It emerges amid unexpected turmoil, where every situation is unique, granular and episodic, each calling on different human qualities. Leadership is essentially a matter of the human heart.

When leadership circumstance calls, who answers? It is said that whoever would discover their leadership potential must first undertake a difficult journey to discover themselves, through trial and error, so that they can then understand others.

As humankind engages with its greatest leadership challenges ever, those who aspire to leadership 
need to know, above all else, how to be ready.
ABOUT ME
"Earle de Blonville is a great, but unsung, Australian hero, courageous, strong, confident, and with outstanding leadership qualifications."
- Professor The Hon. Barry Jones, PhD. AC. FAA. FAHA. FASSA. FTSE. FACE. FRSV.

Australian Minister for Science 1983-90

EARLE DE BLONVILLE, FRGS
LEADERSHIP PHILOSOPHER

Arctic explorer
Acclaimed author
Doctoral Researcher
Founder: Postformal Leadership System

Bespoke Leadership Coach & Consultant
For C-Suite Executives, Entrepreneurs, & Senior Professionals

My leadership philosophy draws on knowledge gained in the hardest possible way - expeditions in the wilderness where I have been close to death many times and have probably made every leadership mistake possible. Insight gained in the crucible of life is the only way to really know yourself as a Leader.

As a practitioner, I offer highly personalised leadership coaching, suited to the unique and individual needs of senior professionals and entrepreneurs who daily face the unexpected, and are called forth into uncertainty.

The exciting new field of Postformal Leadership emerged from my PhD research in 2013, and draws on 40 years of work by Harvard research psychologists focussed on higher adult development. My practice draws on 40 years of personal experience, including field leadership (Arctic, Himalaya, Kimberley), major event leadership (Tall Ships, Great Mountain Race), corporate consulting, executive education development and C-Suite leadership coaching.

My book 'Savage Coast - inside Australia's first Arctic expedition' provides a brutally honest view of leadership in action, with a range of examples of multi-layered challenges in times of great uncertainty. It reveals how every leadership challenge is both unexpected and unique in almost every way, or episodic and granular, affecting people in very different ways, and it serves as a leadership primer for the challenges facing the world in today's pandemic and political uncertainty. Reviews elsewhere on this site.


Film:
'Savage Coast':
Internationally released, one-hour television documentary film.
Screened on Discovery, CBC, BBC, ABC, plus Europe, South America, Israel, South Africa.
View trailer: 'Savage Coast' - https://vimeo.com/232723180.

Book:
'Savage Coast: Inside Australia’s first Arctic expedition'
Valuable insights into extreme leadership challenges
Buy: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KQ6PMIW

Affiliations:
Fellow, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain
Adjunct Professional Fellow, SCU, NSW, Australia
Fellow, Royal Geographical Society, UK

Awards:
Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Trust Award
Olegas Truchanas Expedition Canoeing Award

LEARN MORE:

You can follow my Leadership thoughts and discussions on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/earldeblonville/

My acclaimed book on Arctic leadership 'Savage Coast' is here.

You can watch the trailer for the film 'Savage Coast' here.

Here is where you can view my Leadership videos.

And here is my personal Photography site.

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 “This book is a powerful account of an expedition that Earle de Blonville led to East Greenland in 1985-86. Australia has had a long involvement in Antarctica, and the achievements of Douglas Mawson and Phillip Law are widely recognised. However, with the exception of the controversial Hubert Wilkins, there has been little Australian involvement with the Arctic. When Earle began planning his expedition he set up an Australian Advisory Panel, which included Dr Phillip Law, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Sir John Holland, John Bertrand and Dr Eleanor Rymill, for whom his vessel was named. As Australia’s then Minister for Science I was happy to join, and secured Government recognition and assistance. Earle also recruited support from Britain, where his patrons included The Prince of Wales, Lord Shackleton – son of the great Ernest – and the polar explorer Sir Vivian Fuchs. This is a powerful story of privation, courage, obstinacy and tenacity, full of sharp insights, vividly written, well illustrated with useful maps – an unvarnished record of a major achievement. The expedition took place in 1985-86, but the story, with its freshness and immediacy, is timeless, demonstrating what charismatic leadership can achieve, against all odds."

Professor the Hon. Barry Jones AC FAAAustralian Minister for Science 1983-90

 “This is a brilliant, beautifully written testimony to the resilience of the human spirit. The book tells Earle de Blonville’s own story as the leader of Australia’s first expedition to the Arctic in 1985-86. It illustrates the power of one man’s vision and the courage of the author and his men to rise above extreme adversity to carry it out. Earle has crafted a multi-layered narrative, splicing together self-critical—at times hilarious—reflections on his own leadership with the excitement, vitality and extreme danger of young men kayaking and sailing in wild seas of Arctic ice. It offers rare glimpses into the extraordinary weight of responsibility he shouldered together with a boatload of philosophical nuggets. Yet what most inspired me to read on was a barely articulated compassion for humanity and growing wisdom that infused Earle’s decisions and actions, shaping his leadership character as he journeyed. This book should appeal to anyone seeking to chart a course for themselves or their organization in the rapidly changing uncharted landscape and uncertain futures of our fragile planet. Given the high incidence of suicide and violence among young Australian males, Earle offers an inspiring role model—so urgently needed today. This book should be recommended reading on the new Australian National High School Curriculum and in youth detention centres, globally."

Professor Jennifer M Gidley, PhDPresident, World Futures Studies Federation (UNESCO Partner)

 “Australia’s reputation for Antarctic exploration and research is well known through its explorers: Mawson, Rymill, and Law. Not so well-known is the country’s first foray into the Arctic led by sea-kayaker and mountaineer Earle de Blonville. The saga of Savage Coast covers the author’s seventh sea kayak expedition, which retraced the seventh journey of legendary British explorer Henry George ‘Gino’ Watkins (1907-1932) that took place some 55 years earlier. The book gives a graphic coverage of the hardships that had to be endured and desperate situations to be overcome. The story is told with a refreshing honesty that obliges readers to consider what they themselves might have done in the challenging circumstances. It sanitises neither the interpersonal tensions that arose between personnel, nor the conflicts between individual ambitions and group commitment. It raises the moral and practical responsibility of the designated leader for all contingencies. For my part, the book made me reflect on the importance of ability, stability, and compatibility in the selection of personnel, and the need for leaders to develop a workable pattern of leadership to suit their group. It also provided a number of pithy sayings on which to reflect, which include: - Exploration is curiosity in a sea of uncertainty. - Expeditioners are morally obliged to exclude all possibility of rescue. - Life is the great abyss into which we cast ourselves so that in the fall we might find flight. On many levels the book and its author are to be admired."

Professor AJW Taylor, PhD, DHC (Reims)Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Victoria Uni; Consultant - New Zealand Antarctic Division
Arctic Explorer and Leadership Philosopher Earle de Blonville, FRGS, delivers Leadership lessons drawn from his personal experience of leading Australia's first Arctic expedition, to East Greenland. On this harrowing expedition, everything that could go wrong did so, sometimes more than once. The key lessons de Blonville explains here are that the future is always unknown, uncertain and impossible to be prepared for just by training based on hypotheticals. The single greatest truth revealed is that the only certainty is uncertainty, meaning that Leadership requires being ready for any circumstances, most of them unexpected. This means Leadership is a matter of personal character, flexibility, adaptiveness and courage, not of authority, status or force of personality. The leader must humbly accept that no one can ever be sure that any decisions taken under duress, in the field, are right, reliable or anything more than best guesses. Only time will reveal if they were. As today's Climate Catastrophe increases its grip on our planet, these Leadership Lessons from Hell will become more relevant and valuable.
Arctic Explorer and Leadership Philosopher Earle de Blonville, FRGS, delivers Leadership lessons drawn from his personal experience of leading Australia's first Arctic expedition, to East Greenland. On this harrowing expedition, everything that could go wrong did so, sometimes more than once. The key lessons de Blonville explains here are that the future is always unknown, uncertain and impossible to be prepared for just by training based on hypotheticals. The single greatest truth revealed is that the only certainty is uncertainty, meaning that Leadership requires being ready for any circumstances, most of them unexpected. This means Leadership is a matter of personal character, flexibility, adaptiveness and courage, not of authority, status or force of personality. The leader must humbly accept that no one can ever be sure that any decisions taken under duress, in the field, are right, reliable or anything more than best guesses. Only time will reveal if they were. As today's Climate Catastrophe increases its grip on our planet, these Leadership Lessons from Hell will become more relevant and valuable.
Arctic Explorer and Leadership Philosopher Earle de Blonville, FRGS, delivers Leadership lessons drawn from his personal experience of leading Australia's first Arctic expedition, to East Greenland. On this harrowing expedition, everything that could go wrong did so, sometimes more than once. The key lessons de Blonville explains here are that the future is always unknown, uncertain and impossible to be prepared for just by training based on hypotheticals. The single greatest truth revealed is that the only certainty is uncertainty, meaning that Leadership requires being ready for any circumstances, most of them unexpected. This means Leadership is a matter of personal character, flexibility, adaptiveness and courage, not of authority, status or force of personality. The leader must humbly accept that no one can ever be sure that any decisions taken under duress, in the field, are right, reliable or anything more than best guesses. Only time will reveal if they were. As today's Climate Catastrophe increases its grip on our planet, these Leadership Lessons from Hell will become more relevant and valuable.

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EARLE DE BLONVILLE