Monday, February 10, 2014

The Quality of Leadership

One of the most important aspects of leading an expedition is the leadership itself and this differed very greatly between Herzog’s Annapurna and Blum’s Annapurna. In Herzog’s Annapurna, Herzog was determined to be one of the few people of the entire team that actually reached the summit and he set up the lead climbing in a way that enabled him to do so. In complete contrast, Blum’s goal was to get everyone to the summit that wanted to reach it and was completely satisfied with not going herself if that allowed one of her compatriots to go. Although one could argue that this may have been due to her fear of avalanches, a fear that did ultimately successfully kill her desire to reach the summit of Annapurna, her leadership ethic was still much more sound, all-inclusive and selfless than Herzog’s even to the point that she became very conflicted and self critical over asserting her authority by making decisions that she as the leader had the only right to make. While being so selfless with one’s leadership may have its shortcomings, especially in regard to group decision making or, in the case of Blum’s Annapurna, in convincing obstinate Sherpas to obey their orders, for a trip as long, stressful and full of hardship as Blum’s expedition, Blum’s selfless leadership was critical to the health of the group mentality. Even when the going got tough and stress levels were high, none of her climbers ever had the desire to quit because of issues within the group, a possibility that can even be a distinct threat to groups in much lesser situations, and I attribute this success to the quality and integrity of Blum’s selfless leadership.


  1. I also believe that Blum managed to lead her team selflessly but I question her leadership skills. It appears throughout most of the novel that she is constantly second guessing her decisions. I think that she should have been asserting her authority from the get go in order to be considered a successful leader. In such dangerous place there isn't space for hesitations.

  2. I think that Herzog benefited greatly from the nature of the expedition. The oath at the beginning of the narrative sort of exemplified an aligning of goals. In Herzog's narrative these climbers all approach the mountain with one main goal, to put a french man on top of the mountain. Blum's narrative differs in this regard and I think this necessitated she take a different leadership approach. While each member of Blom's expatiation shared a common goal, the presence of individual desires to summit seemed much stronger. While this could largely be the result of presentation or writing style it creates a need for Blom as leader to address these goals. For this reason I thought her everybody can summit approach was appropriate.