NPLI Faculty, EEP Alumni Share Leadership Lessons at Inaugural IAEM Canada Conference

It was a terrific week in Calgary at the inaugural IAEM Canada Conference, where attendees gathered together for thought-provoking discussions around crisis leadership, preparedness, and resilience. One of many NPLI Executive Education Program alumni in attendance was Greg Solecki (EEP Cohort XIV), IAEM-Canada President and an organizer of the conference, who invited our associate director Eric McNulty to give the Friday morning keynote.

During his keynote, McNulty outlined how the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) framework has evolved. “It’s now VUCAST.” The S stands for a Systems Scale Change, encompassing phenomena such as climate change and aging populations. The T stands for Transparency in an age where “almost everyone can see almost everything in almost real time.” It’s in this evolved reality of emergency management and crisis leadership that NPLI dedicates its work to build leadership capacity and capability. McNulty said to the IAEM audience that the leadership themes of adaptive capacity, resilience, and trust are where the big dividends will pay off in the relationship between leadership and outcomes. Leaders must evolve what they’re doing — and how — in real time.

McNulty said that leadership is about “the human factors.” Recently published NPLI research found that less than 25% of responding crisis leaders have had any leadership training on the impact of leader behavior on team performance in an Incident Command System (ICS) or National Incident Management System (NIMS) environment. Given obvious ties between good and bad leadership behavior and outcomes, McNulty said, this leadership work is imperative.

McNulty highlighted how other IAEM Canada attendees, and NPLI EEP alumni, inhabited these traits. He pointed out how Desi Matel-Anderson (EEP Cohort VIII), during her role as head of the FEMA Innovation team during Hurricane Sandy response and recovery in 2012, built trust between multiple groups and stakeholders to coordinate an effective response. Mark O’Byrne (EEP Cohort XI), another NPLI EEP alumnus, built adaptive capacity in the Hurricane Harvey Response using his team in Canada to provide employee assistance backup to their colleagues in Houston. Both Matel-Anderson and O’Byrne spoke at the conference.

Other NPLI alumni in attendance included Ryan Turner (EEP Cohort XIII), the Las Vegas Division Chief of Emergency Management and Safety, who spoke earlier at the conference about the 2017 concert shooting and his experience and response, and IAEM Global Board Chair Ellis Stanley (EEP Cohort II)

The world in which we manage disasters today is increasingly more complex, which is why we were encouraged at IAEM Canada to see so many continuing to make personal and professional investments in leadership. We hope the old and new friends we saw will reach out and let us know how we can continue to serve them in their crisis leadership development.

Check out some of the other event highlights on our Twitter feed @HarvardNPLI and share your photos and key takeaways on Twitter using the hashtag #IAEMCanada18.