EARLE DE BLONVILLE

LEADERSHIP CONSULTANT

My Leadership Journey



“Leadership cannot be taught in a classroom, it can only be learned in the crucible of life.” - Drew Hanson, Forbes.

I never aspired to being a Leader, as such. From the time I was a child in the Australian bush I was just curious and wanted to explore. No one selected me to lead Australia’s first expedition into the Arctic. I simply had a dream and followed my heart, and despite the whole idea seeming impossibly ambitious, other people became excited and chose to come with me.

And when we arrived in East Greenland too late for the short summer, due to a terrible crossing of the North Atlantic in a small yacht, my team agreed to travel with me in winter – 1,000km in sea kayaks, in sub-zero temperatures, through a rapidly freezing sea, with storms howling down at 260kph from the 3,000m inland icecap.

Despite several near-death experiences, we survived. And later, others joined me on my yacht to explore even more of Greenland’s scarcely charted coastline.

As a leader, I have probably made every mistake possible. I’ve known self-doubt, felt the sting of those who doubted me, chosen some wrong people, expected too much of others (but no more than I did of myself) and failed to realise that many people cannot live with uncertainty nor can they quickly adjust to disappointment or failure.

And from being in the leader’s boots, going where no one has gone, facing challenges never expected, I have been gifted with the hard lessons unlikely to be known by Business Schools and Coaches who haven't tested their theories in the field.

If you are seeking to explore your Leadership potential, or to evolve to a higher level, I can probably help get you there. Contact me on the email form attached, and let’s chat.



LEADERSHIP


LEADERSHIP
“A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together”   
- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1777)

Despite the massive amount of information circulating on Leadership, does anyone really know what it is?

In 2012, Professor Barbara Kellerman, Founding Executive Director of the Harvard Kennedy School, wrote in her book ‘The End of Leadership’ that after 40 years of MBA Leadership development we have 40 theories of Leadership, 1,500 definitions of Leadership, over 80 million books on Leadership, plus a $130 billion-a-year Leadership industry. Despite this, Leaders worldwide have never been held in such disrepute,
the Leadership industry has not improved the human condition,
and we still don’t have any better ideas how to grow good Leaders.

Is this because those who created the theories and fads that
comprise much of today’s approach to leadership development,
mostly taught at MBA Schools, have never actually led anything?
Should we dare to ask leadership experts: “What have you led?”

Some thoughts ...

Leadership is not Management: they are opposites.
Leadership is not doing, but being. It's who you are.
Your Leadership is exclusive to you. You are unique.
It brings together everything you’ve thought and done in life.
Your Leadership is observed in the quality of other people’s lives.



About Earle de Blonville


About Earle de Blonville
"Earle de Blonville is a great, but unsung, Australian hero, courageous, strong, confident, and with outstanding leadership qualifications."
- Professor The Hon. Barry Jones, AC FAA. Australian Minister for Science 1983-90


EARLE DE BLONVILLE, FRGS
Arctic explorer. Acclaimed author
Founder of Postformal Leadership System
- a revolutionary new approach to leadership

Bespoke Leadership Consultant
Exclusively for Entrepreneurs & Senior Professionals

My leadership consultancy draws on wisdom gained in the hardest possible way - expeditions in the wilderness where I have been close to death many times and made every leadership mistake possible. Insight gained in the crucible of life is regarded as probably the only way to understand Leadership.

As a practitioner, working only with senior professionals and entrepreneurs, I draw a hard line to stand apart from the consumer 'Leadership Industry' which almost universally conflates Management with Leadership. This 'industry' is run largely by those without field leadership experience, offering endless novelty theories which are not personally tested in the field, and certainly not under any duress.

Two things: First, I am not a conventional Coach. The corporate world has appropriated 'Coaching' as a Prozac to mollify and disempower middle management suffering overwork, under-value and lives without meaning. Second, I don't believe in goals - that's for football. Life is not a game, endlessly repeated, but a continuum of surprise and growth. A voyage of discovery that needs a skipper at the helm and a navigator nearby.

My book 'Savage Coast - the inside story of 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 and complexity. 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.

The 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 and senior executive leadership coaching.

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 Elisabeth II Silver Jubilee Trust Award
Olegas Truchanas Expedition Canoeing Award


All material on this site is © copyright 2020 Earle de Blonville

Services


ABOUT LEADERSHIP

Our Leadership philosophy is: “Leadership is neither born nor taught, but circumstance calling forth a champion” We address the problem of Leadership being confused with Management, which is important as the two are polar opposites. Management may be given, but Leadership must be taken. Leadership is not a trade, or a diploma, or even a job title. It cannot be 'learned', like accounting. It manifests as an understanding and a capacity, which can only be developed through field leadership experience. It is expressed through an individual's unique qualities. We help you understand what Leadership actually is, by removing the massive confusion created by academics and consultants who have no recognised field Leadership experience to draw on. We enable you to be ready to lead, because Leadership calls you when you least expect it, to do things you never dreamed of where there are no rules, no guidelines and no guarantees. Tomorrow’s rapidly changing world promises nothing but increasing complexity and uncertainty, and demands extraordinary new Leadership. Many will be called, and you need to be one of the few who is ready to answer. Earle de Blonville is the pioneer of a radical new leadership system that will change everything. Combining insights from Arctic exploration, ancient wisdom, scholarly research and C-Suite coaching, Earle is committed to your Leadership evolution for a new world. Earle’s work has inspired accolades from experts: “Timeless insights into the hidden dimensions of leadership” - Sir Ranulph Fiennes, explorer and author. “Fully captures the reality of leadership” - Dr Iain McCormack, polar psychologist. “Deep insights into complexity and unpredictability” - Sir Gustav Nossal, Emeritus Professor “Reveals that leadership cannot be taught, and no leader is infallible” - Richard Gilmore, Executive Director

ABOUT MENTORING

Our Mentoring Philosophy is: "γνῶθι σεαυτόν". Which means: 'Know thyself'. This Ancient Greek wisdom, from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (700 BC), guides our approach to Coaching and Mentoring. But this is not the only voice. Socrates (d. 399 BC): “We appear ridiculous when trying to know obscure things before we know ourselves.” Plato (d. 348 BC): “Understanding oneself enables an understanding of others as a result.” Benjamin Franklin (d. 1790): "There are three things extremely hard: steel, diamond, and to know one's self” To meet today's increasing turbulence of complexity and uncertainty, and manage its impact on those relying on us for leadership, we first need a solid base of self, just as trees need deep roots to survive strong winds. Rudyard Kipling wrote: "If you can keep your head while all those about you are losing theirs; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you". And that is the leadership challenge tomorrow's world confronts us with. Earle's coaching and mentoring has inspired C-Suite accolades: “Earle has been in situations where he has been tested. His experiences have direct analogies to the workplace and he has great empathy for the difficulties of leadership. I have made significant progress as a CEO based solely on Earle’s advice. I highly recommend him as a coach and mentor.” - Jonathan Hutchings. CEO, World Wide Entertainment ‘Earle helped me reduce complex challenges to concise issues. He is tenacious and challenging, holding you to account for action that gets the right results. I have acquired a sense of real strength and self determination and strongly recommend Earle as a senior executive leadership coach.’ - Belinda Gunton. COO, Konekt Workplace Health Solutions ‘Earle brought incredible focus and insight to my leadership development that has allowed my ‘leader within’ to spring forth into action. His personal style is a brilliant balance of confrontation and inspiration and I’m yet to discover anyone who compares as an inspiring and masterful mentor and coach.’ - Darren Heiberg. COO, STA Travel

ABOUT POSTFORMAL

The future of Leadership is Postformal, the portal to higher adult development. Postformal is currently the most widely used psychological term to refer to higher order thinking. Today’s Old Leadership evolved from industrial era thinking, supporting hierarchical, process-driven organisational structures. Its simple skills-based programs create externalised behavioural performance designed to be measured like machines. Postformal is the opposite of this. It is higher order thinking, typical of more complex and higher functioning people. Developed initially by Lawrence Kolberg, Harvard Professor of Education & Psychology, Postformal thinking builds on the work of Swiss Developmental Psychologist Jean Piaget. Postformal Leadership itself is revolutionary, the first fully integrated approach to Leadership, although our research indicates that it has probably existed, unrecognised, throughout the ages. We believe that Postformal is the most natural way for people to think, develop and lead. The concept of integrated Postformal Leadership emerged from the Doctoral research of Earle de Blonville, and has been developed into a structure called the Postformal Leadership System. Today, Postformal Leadership is recognised through the development of naturally occurring human qualities. These include complexity, creativity, dialogical reasoning, imagination, intuition, paradox, reflexivity and higher purpose, to name but a few. These qualities emerge as we naturally evolve as human beings. Our integrated Postformal Leadership development program is called 9sails. It will totally change how advanced Leadership is practiced into the 21st century. 9sails is designed as a highly interactive and self-reflective five-day leadership development program for small groups. Dr Jan D. Sinnott, Professor of Psychology, and one the great Postformal foundational scholars, says this: "Postformal thought is linked to creative production by virtue of multiple views of reality and its multiple solutions, definitions, parameters, and methods of problem solving. This reveals the essence of wisdom. And Leadership more than anything else requires wisdom."

Bespoke


“Earle is one of the very few true leadership thought-leaders in the Asia Pacific region. His approach and philosophy on leadership in the corporate world is nothing short of avant-garde. A highly regarded and inspirational executive coach, business mentor, trainer and facilitator, he provides clients with a new vision.”
- Kylie Hammond, Chairman, Director Institute

Bespoke Leadership Programs

Leadership is dangerous. It often calls unexpectedly, challenging parts of us that we scarcely know.

Recorded corporate failures, starting with the collapse of the Medici Bank in 1494, have destroyed trillions of dollars in assets. They were not failures of ideas, but failures of the integrity, ethics and morals of those people in charge. Leadership success in any sphere pivots on the integrity of a single individual.

In this regard, there has never been a time when the weight of leadership was not heavy.

We now face a world of rapidly increasing complexity and uncertainty. Expert futurists believe the post-Corona world will be much more human-centred. Culturally, business will have to change what it does and how it does it.

And that goes to the heart of leadership: it's not what we're doing, but who we are being, that shapes our legacy.

Those now at the top - senior professionals and entrepreneurs – may face unaccustomed personal challenges that demand significant values realignment and deep self-reflection.

If you are one of the enlightened and courageous ones seeking your own place in the future, and are ready for the challenge of inner change, then I can probably help.

Together we can create a bespoke leadership development program, tailored individually for you. It may include philosophical enquiry, reading set texts, with discussion, attending music and the arts, physical skills acquisition, community service and expedition experience. The journey is holistic, integral, pedagogical and inspirational, and its purpose is to manifest your greater potential as a leader for radically changed futures.

Bespoke programs run for at least three months, but more normally six months, with contact occurring weekly, in person or virtually. Some clients have often extended this to nine months, and followed on with a retainer for themselves and selected members of their senior management team.

You will find that my approach to developing your leadership understanding and capability for a highly uncertain new world is totally unique. You will also find that it works amazingly well, and is incredibly enjoyable. I have coached a wide range of senior professionals and entrepreneurs in Australia, across sectors including finance, mining, pharma, consulting, travel, postal and government, and have profoundly changed many lives in unexpected ways.

If you would like to explore your needs in more detail, please email me to set up a free initial Zoom or phone consultation using he contact form provided.


Service available in all English speaking regions.
I am available for seminars and keynote presentations.
Contact me with your ideas and let's explore possibilities.

"You can't learn to swim without being in the water. The same with leadership. Forget dry academic theories. Leadership is immersive and emotional. You lead with your heart."
Bespoke

Presentation


Interview


Documentary


Savage Coast - The Book


 “How Earle and his hard-bitten team survive their battle with the elements is nothing short of a miracle. Earle is a romantic who knows how to bring history alive. He is a fine lyrical writer with enchanting passages on the subtlety and spirituality of polar seascapes. Importantly, he is brutally honest with descriptions of modern Inuit culture, with the rawness of basic living in makeshift camps ashore and with the agony of personality clashes. Every nautical mile of this journey is hard-won. For Earle, there could be no turning back. Thankfully, even in today’s straightjacket world, there are still those who put everything on the line and dare to dream.”"

Colin MonteathPolar explorer & photographer

 “If there was a golden age of Australian adventuring, it was the late 20th century. From the 60s to the 90s there was a palpable spirit of possibility, an alchemy with our affinity for wilderness and an almost nation-defining pride in the Big Crazy Undertaking. Earle de Blonville was a part of this mix, from the time of his solo sea kayak baptism at the age of 11 through a paddling circumnavigation of Tasmania that no one thought possible. Fast forward past countless other Big Adventurous Ideas, to the primary subject of this tome, Earle’s seventh major kayak expedition tracking the 1000km, 1930s Arctic route of British Arctic explorer Gino Watkins who disappeared in Greenland. Gino was the inspiration for this 1986 expedition. Earle’s inspired writing and willingness to go into dark, ego-busting territory has us gripped, as his expedition goes from ambitious to haphazard to downright foolhardy. It provides fertile environment for Earle to peer into the mirror and contemplate – what makes an adventurer? What makes a leader? This is exploration of the explorer as much as of the expedition.”"

Chris OrdEditor: Outer Edge Magazine

 “When I first sat down with this book I expected to read a few chapters a day. Just 36 hours after opening it, I closed the last page at midnight and collapsed into bed. The action is utterly engrossing. However, with each harrowing tale I expected to learn how leadership saved the day and how the lesson could be applied to my own situation. When the lesson didn’t appear I was frustrated. I pushed on – increasingly impatiently – waiting for the infallible secrets of leadership to be revealed; for the universal aphorism, the checklist of do’s and don’ts, the user’s manual to leadership. 

But that lesson never came. It was not until I finished the final chapter that I understood the book’s real point: that leadership cannot be taught, no leader is infallible and there is no single recipe for success. The important thing is that whatever the circumstance, we must continue to lead, to make decisions, to not sit still and simply wait for the tide to take our kayaks. On reflection I was also relieved; relieved in the knowledge that even the greatest leaders are not superhuman but sometimes make the wrong call and suffer guilt, indecision and cowardice. I can now approach my own life with renewed confidence. It has been an extraordinary 36 hours.”"

Richard GilmoreExecutive Director, Earthwatch Australia

 “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. But if you are looking for a recipe book on leadership you won’t find it here. 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. This inspiring true story has the mythical power of an archetypal ‘hero’s journey’ – a 21st century Odyssey. 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)

 “This engrossing book tells the story of two Arctic expeditions. In 1930 a 23-year old Englishman named Gino Watkins took a motley band of young adventurers to East Greenland, ostensibly to explore the possibility of a trans-Arctic air route. Some 60 years later another remarkable young man, Earle de Blonville, returned to the same unforgiving coast to lead an expedition that was largely inspired by Watkins’s dangerous appeal. As Gino’s nephew, I was brought up with only the legend of his life, since the man himself had vanished in an icy fjord when aged only 25. De Blonville makes this legend real, partly with a forensic re-appraisal of Gino, but more vividly with his no-holds-barred account of his own expedition. This is a gripping tale of extraordinary complexity. As one would expect of an Arctic adventure, there are crescendos of excitement, with storms, near-fatal incidents and shipwrecks. But this derring-do is counterbalanced with a more thought-provoking theme, involving disappointments, betrayals and self-doubt. For Gino, the appeal of the Arctic lay largely in the solitude. Perhaps most explorers share the same desire to escape the social world to pursue a private dream. But for any expedition to survive extreme conditions, its members must be prepared to live and work as a team. ‘Hell is other people’, as Jean-Paul Sartre observed. If that axiom is true of a Parisian café, it is, as de Blonville shows, still more so in an Arctic tent.”"

Hamish ScottSon of Jamie Scott, Arctic explorer, author, and expedition partner of Gino Watkins

 “Throughout the expedition, danger was ever-present. The crew faced appalling weather conditions, as well as cramped living quarters, so it was no surprise that tensions boiled over on a number of occasions. It would have been miraculous if it had happened otherwise. I’m sure that without Earle’s doggedness and leadership, the expedition would have been aborted. This is a page-turner for all readers, young or old – in every sense a boy’s own adventure story.”"

Dr Phillip MurrayMedical Consultant, Ireland

 “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

 “A disarmingly frank account of the personalities that battle, not only the extreme landscape, but each other as they overcome wild storms, mechanical failure and near deadly dunkings as the winter freeze descends. The writing soars when the author describes scenes of beauty including the northern lights and the iceberg-ridden coastline that the expedition must battle through. A fascinating insight into ambition, courage and perseverance against the odds.”"

Andrew HughesOutdoor Education specialist

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