Resources

Paper – Crisis Meta-Leadership Lessons from the Boston Marathon Bombing Response: The Ingenuity of Swarm Intelligence

Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D
Eric M. McNulty, M.A.
Barry C. Dorn, M.D., M.H.C.M.
Eric Goralnick, M.D.

The Boston Marathon Bombings required leaders of many agencies – scattered over numerous jurisdictions and with different authorities and priorities – to rapidly respond together to an unknown and complex set of risks, decisions, and actions. This report analyzes their leadership through the event. It seeks to understand how they were able to effectively lead an operation with remarkable results. These outcomes are measured in lives saved, suspects quickly captured, public confidence maintained, and population resilience fostered. These leaders were observed to exhibit “Swarm Intelligence,” a phenomenon in which no one is in charge and yet, with all following the same principles and rules, leaders are able to accomplish more together than any one leader could have achieved separately. Download the PDF: April 2014 Prelim Report – Dist

 

Paper – Meta-leadership: A Primer

Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D
Isaac Ashkenazi, M.D., M.P.A.
Barry C. Dorn, M.D., M.H.C.M.
Joseph M. Henderson, M.P.A.
Eric J. McNulty

Large organizations have not only become less hierarchical in recent years but have also increasingly formed a wide variety of arrangements that link them to other entities. Leading in such an environment requires extending one’s influence and accomplishment beyond one’s formal bounds of authority to create productive connectivity. Meta-leadership is a theoretically robust and pragmatically valid framework for generating widespread and cohesive action that expands the leader’s domain of influence and leverage. This paper presents the origins of meta-leadership and explores its place in the leadership literature.Download the PDF: meta-leadership_primer

Article – National Preparedness and the Five Dimensions of Meta-Leadership

Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D
Isaac Ashkenazi, M.D., M.P.A.
Barry C. Dorn, M.D., M.H.C.M.
Joseph M. Henderson, M.P.A.

Abstract: Achievement of national preparedness—given current natural and man-made threats—requires a heightened capacity for effective cross-government coordination of effort. This objective is hindered by the tendency of leaders to advocate the specific interests and purposes of their narrow “silo” of activity.

Meta-Leaders think and perform differently. They recognize that achieving genuine national preparedness demands a spirit of cooperation combined with tangible inter-agency mechanisms that activate jointness. Download the PDF: Meta-leadership Distribution

Article – Meta-Leadership and National Emergency Preparedness, A Model to Build Government Connectivity

Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D
Barry C. Dorn, M.D., M.H.C.M.
Joseph M. Henderson, M.P.A.

Abstract: Effective emergency preparedness and response requires leadership that can accomplish perceptive coordination and communication amongst diverse agencies and sectors. Nevertheless, operating within their specified scope of authority, preparedness leaders in characteristic bureaucratic fashion often serve to bolster the profile and import of their own organization, thereby creating a silo effect that interferes with effective systemwide planning and response. This article describes a strategy to overcome traditional silo thinking: “meta-leadership,” overarching leadership that intentionally connects the purposes and work of different organizations or organizational units. Thinking and operating beyond their immediate scope of authority, meta-leaders provide guidance, direction, and momentum across organizational lines that develop into a shared course of action and a commonality of purpose among people and agencies that are doing what may appear to be very different work. Meta-leaders are able to imaginatively and effectively leverage system assets, information, and capacities, a particularly critical function for organizations with emergency preparedness responsibilities that are constrained by ingrained bureaucratic patterns of behavior. Download the PDF: metaleadership.biosecurity.july06

Article – The CEO Can’t Afford to Panic (HBR Case Study)

Eric McNulty

Abstract: When a bomb explodes in a train station in Boston, the executive team of a financial services firm across the street is plunged into crisis mode. No one is prepared for the city’s request to use the firm’s lobby as a triage center and temporary morgue. The CEO’s instinct is to say yes, but as his team debates the consequences—liability issues, the effect on traumatized employees—he realizes just how complicated a decision it is. Purchase the HBR case study and commentary.

Paper – Leading in a Crisis: Six Mistakes You’re Bound to Make (Unless You Read This)

Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D
Isaac Ashkenazi, M.D., M.P.A.
Barry C. Dorn, M.D., M.H.C.M.
Eric J. McNulty

Abstract: Executives increasingly find themselves caught in the role of crisis leader and manager. A simple scan of the headlines reveals many common examples: a product recall, scandal, unexpected death of an executive, sudden loss of liquidity, weather-related destruction, or a hostile takeover bid, to name but a few. Having observed hundreds of leaders in high-pressure, high-stakes situations—from earthquakes to terrorist bombings and beyond—we have identified the six most common mistakes leaders commit when confronted with a crisis and the steps to avoid them. Download the PDF: Leading in a Crisis Six Mistakes

Meta-Leadership Case Histories

Each case history presents meta-leadership lessons learned from events in which NPLI alumni have been involved and often where faculty were able to undertake firsthand observation and research.

 

The following report distills lessons learned from leaders of response to terror attacks in London, Madrid, Israel and other non-U.S. locales.