Table of Contents

Extreme Leadership

Extreme Leadership

Leaders, Teams and Situations Outside the Norm

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Edited by Cristina M. Giannantonio and Amy E. Hurley-Hanson

Much has been written about how leaders and teams function in traditional business settings, but there is comparatively scant literature on the behaviors of leaders and teams facing extreme situations: that is, situations that fall outside the scope of daily experience. This book presents cases drawn from a diverse set of non-traditional and extreme leadership scenarios, offering a fresh perspective on both leadership research and management practice.

Chapter 11: Team leadership: the Chilean mine case

Terri A. Scandura and Monica M. Sharif

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership


The world watched in awe as the first of the 33 Chilean miners emerged from the transport tube. Without a doubt, the rescue of the miners in October 2010 was an impressive technological achievement. But perhaps the more enduring lessons from the mine may relate more to team leadership under what are now known to be among the most extreme conditions imaginable. Textbooks and popular books have been written on the subject of team leadership. However, the events that unfolded in the mine offer lessons for both students and managers alike on how to build and sustain a team that can survive hardships and change.This exploratory chapter will first present a summary of the Chilean mine incident. It will then present well-known frameworks for team leadership in organizations and reflect upon how the Chilean miners’ experience both illustrates and informs these frameworks. The goals are to advance a viewpoint that may be used to teach team leadership to students in an interesting and relevant way, and to offer some new ideas for theory and research on team leadership in organizations. It is important to note that the Chilean mine disaster represented a multi-team system (DeChurch and Marks, 2006). There was a team working on the rescue above the surface, and a team of trapped miners below the surface. Our discussion will draw from examples of each team, and also the interplay between them after contact was made with the miners with the drill.

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