NPLI “Swarms” with Hoover Institution in DC

NPLI faculty and alumni gathered at The Hoover Institution in Washington, DC this week to discuss the latest meta-leadership research and practices. In a lively, 45-minute dialogue facilitated by NPLI Founding Co-director, Dr. Leonard Marcus, the group explored “swarm” behaviors in evidence when cooperation and collaboration are high as well as the opposite–suspicion-based behaviors that lead to discord and disunity.

Dr. Marcus presented the five behavioral principles derived through the NPLI’s research on the Boston Marathon bombing response: 1) Unity of purpose; 2) Generosity of spirit and action; 3) Staying in one’s lane; 4) No ego-no blame; and 5) A foundation of trust-based relationships. In other situations, the obverse is in evidence: 1) Disunity and confusion; 2) Selfishness; 3) Lane creep; 4) Ample credit taking and blame placing; and 5) Relationships riddled with suspicion and distrust. The group noted that numerous factors contribute to either outcome including political friction, incentives, organizational structures and processes, and lack of clarity from those who aspire to lead. While not every negative factor can be mitigated, intentional work by leaders can help foster the conditions for swarming.

The NPLI has a forthcoming article on swarm leadership in the Journal of Leadership Studies.

Dr. Marcus was accompanied by Eric J. McNulty, the NPLI’s Director of Research, and Rich Serino, Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the NPLI. Hosting from the Hoover Institution was NPLI alum and Hoover Research Fellow. More than two dozen alumni attended the event.

A reception followed where participants were able to make new connections and renew old friendships.