Meta-Leadership and Cyber Security

Cybersecurity is as much about leadership as technology.

In late 2016, the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and the United States Air Force Cyber College co-hosted a one-day dialog on the leadership challenges in cyber security at Harvard Law School. The participants included representatives from the private sector as well as various federal agencies. The dialog was facilitated by the NPLI’s Dr. Leonard Marcus and Eric McNulty.

The overarching take-away was that the greatest challenge is not technical, but rather rooted in human factors. There was an expressed need for leadership that would foster broader thinking and greater collaboration across organizational and jurisdictional boundaries–classic meta-leadership challenges. The sub-themes animating the discussion were:

  • Moving to a “whole of nation” cyber strategy that better integrates and leverages public and private resources and capabilities;
  • The “need for speed” in identifying threats, catalyzing collaboration, and disseminating counter measures;
  • Finding the right metaphor to set expectations of behavior: war,public health response, natural disaster response, and rules of the open seas were all offered as options.

A summary of the discussion provides greater details on each of these topics: National Leadership Dialogue on Cyber Security

The NPLI’s involvement in cyber issue evolved from a series of meta-leadership projects undertaken by teams in its residential executive education program. Thanks to all of those who participated in these projects.