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Book Review: Into the Storm by Dennis N.T. Perkins

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Popular leadership author Dennis N. T. Perkins has written a second book about how effective leadership skills and strategies can get groups through highly adverse situations.

Into the Storm looks at “one of the most demanding sailing competitions in the world” and the sailing teams that attempted and/or completed the 1998 Sydney to Hobart ocean race.

The race, according to the book, is a 628-nautical-mile course in highly unpredictable seas even in the best of weather conditions. In the 1998 race, a violent storm struck. Winds gusted over 100 mph and 80-foot waves threatened the racers and their vessels.

Six sailors were lost and more than 55 others had to be rescued. It was the largest search and rescue operation in Australia’s history.

Perkins uses the first part of the book to detail the race team members, the boats used in the race, the storm and the race.

While he follows each team’s progress through the race, Perkins really focuses on one team in particular, the sailors aboard the AFR Midnight Rambler. The team endured the same weather conditions as the others during the race but made it through to the finish line without losing any of the team.

Perkins asserts in the book that the Midnight Rambler team used 10 leadership strategies to make it through safely. The 10 strategies he asserts the team used during the Hobart race include:

1. Make the team a rock star versus making an individual a rock star.
2. Remove all excuses for failure.
3. Find and focus on the winning scenario.

4. Build a gun-ho culture of learning and innovation.
5. Be willing to sail into the storm.
6. Cut through the noise of the wind and the waves.
7. Find ways to share the helm.
8. Step up to conflict – and deal with the things that slow you down.
9. Master the art of rapid recovery.
10. Never give up-there’s always another move.

Perkins himself accompanied a crew in a Hobart race as research for the book.

His first book, Leading at the Edge, was also a tail of a challenging expedition set in Antarctica. He also revealed 10 leadership strategies with the earlier account.

This is a case of effectively telling a story of how leaders can survive and win when they apply certain skills even in the most adverse conditions. The storytelling at the beginning of the book is well done and the strategies are well explained. It is a worthy read for new or experienced persons who find themselves in leadership roles.

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