• A symmetical swirl of wood slats

In Search of Elegance

One of the challenges of leading is the "simultaneous solve." That is, leaders must often solve for multiple variables or meet the needs of different stakeholders at the same time. It requires comfort with paradox and skill at finding common ground. In a recent piece for strategy+business, Eric McNulty explores the challenges and opportunities in finding "elegant" solutions that meet this need. He says: A fundamental challenge for [...]

  • A group of people silhouetted against the window of an airline terminal.

Covid on the Plane? Keep Those Masks On

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Leonard Marcus has been working with leaders in the aviation industry to help create consistency in evidence-based safety protocols across the major U.S.-based carriers. This work was done through the Aviation Public Health Initiative (APHI) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. A full report on the APHI's work can be found here. Dr. Marcus has been a frequent commentator in [...]

Eric McNulty Interviewed on Transfomational Energy Leadership Podcast

Recently, CML's Eric McNulty was interviewed by Dr. Matthew Allen Woolsey, host of Transformational Energy Leadership on Voice America Radio. They discussed many facets of crisis meta-leadership and the "you're it" moments included in the new book written by CML principals, Leonard Marcus, Eric McNulty, Joseph Henderson, and Barry Dorn. Listen to the full program here.

New Book Arrives June 11, 2019

  The authors at Harvard Law SchoolRose Lincoln Photo You're It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most is the latest book from CML principals Leonard Marcus, Eric McNulty, Joseph Henderson, and Barry Dorn. To be published by PublicAffairs Books, You're It distills more fifteen years of field research and teaching into a highly readable, highly practical guide to leading effectively in high-stress, high-pressure [...]

The Future of Leadership

In a recent article for the Journal of Leadership Studies, CML principals Leonard Marcus and Eric McNulty argue that leadership will remain a profoundly human endeavor. They draw examples from healthcare where, as in many industries, artificial intelligence and advanced analytics are making once judgement-based decisions more routine. While this takes some work off the plate of those in leadership positions, there is still plenty to do involving [...]

Turning Five Crisis Leader Pitfalls into Opportunities

Crises are among the most daunting challenges for leaders. The very nature of true crises – complex, high-consequence events that threaten physical, emotional, economic, and/or reputational health – test a leader’s ability to discern what is happening and what is to be done. The word “crisis” derives from the Greek “krisis” or decision. The contemporary understanding of the word stems from Middle English usage of the medical Latin [...]

The Evolution of Meta-Leadership

Dr. Leonard Marcus (left) shared insights with readers of Domestic Preparedness Journal into how the Meta-leadership framework has continued to evolve through field research, learning through customer engagements, and continual exploration of fields such as applied neuroscience. The meta-leadership concept continues to evolve. The team learns both from research with leaders in the field as they prepare for and respond to crises as well as from participants in [...]

Reviving the Art of Argument

This recent post by Eric McNulty at strategy+business discusses the importance of constructive argument for innovation and organizational agility: Becoming too entrenched in your own position can lead to blind spots resulting from cognitive biases and positional prejudice — the same situation can look quite different when viewed through the lens of finance versus that of legal or marketing. The actual conditions are likely more nuanced and complex [...]

Five Principles for Leading the “Swarm”

Swarm Intelligence in nature can help inform leader behaviors This post by Dr. Lenny Marcus originally appeared at NatGeo.com. In the course of our research on leaders of the Boston Marathon Bombings Response, we discovered an extraordinary phenomenon. Though many people took charge of aspects of the response, no one official was in command of it all, including the range of law enforcement, medical and recovery [...]

The Narrative of Crisis: From Anticipation to Legacy

A public memorial after the Boston bombings I spent several hours watching the first House hearing on the Boston bombings last week. Witnesses included retired Senator Joe Lieberman, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, MA Undersecretary for Homeland Security Kurt Schwartz, and USC professor Erroll Southers. Watch and make your own judgements about this specific hearing. What is important for meta-leaders is to understand the three phases [...]

Reflecting on the Leadership and the Boston Bombings

A memorial in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings We have studied crisis leadership for years. The Boston Marathon bombings brought the issue right to our backyard. We saw many instances of meta-leadership as well as the inevitable lessons to be carried forward to a future event. We wrote about our observations of crisis leaders during the bombing response for HBR.org: It is in difficult [...]

Leadership Moments Come Unexpectedly

We have spent a lot of time looking at graphic images and hearing compelling testimony about the horror of terror attacks. They are part of what we research, write and teach about as we prepare leaders for high stress, high stakes situations. Monday's bombings at the Boston Marathon, however, hit close to home and gave us yet another perspective on the challenges of leading through random violence. We [...]

Crisis: A Perfect Time to Innovate?

From left: Richard Serino, Janet Napolitano Richard Reed, and Leonard Marcus Crisis -- a time when many organizations hunker down. They tighten restrictions on what people can say or do. They adopt a bunker mentality. That wasn't the case for FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) in the aftermath of super storm Sandy. FEMA deployed an Innovation Team and gave them just two guiding principles: solve [...]

Be Careful Who You Designate a “Leader”

The recent departure of Steven Sinofsky from the ranks of Microsoft's senior management presents an ideal opportunity to use the five dimensions of meta-leadership to dissect why some succeed and others fail as leaders. Part of the problem may be that too many in organizations and in the media automatically call senior executives "leaders" whether or not they actually demonstrate leadership. "At the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, we [...]

The Limits of Leader Control

This post originally appeared at HBR.org. The rambunctious, topsy-turvy U.S. Presidential campaign took its latest turn on Tuesday night. From jobs to gas prices to world events, central to the arguments advanced by both candidates was the idea of exerting control. Governor Romney, in particular, has criticized President Obama for "leading from behind" rather than using U.S. power to direct the evolution of events such as the Arab [...]

Renegotiating Global Health Leadership

Humanitarians increasingly find themselves in conflict-stricken areas making their jobs more trying and dangerous than ever before.  Yet the need has never been greater: not only must they tackle the traditional challenges of infectious disease but now must also deal with "first world" maladies such as diabetes and obesity. In this piece originally published in PUBLIC, Lenny Marcus, Barry Dorn, Eric McNulty, Isaac Ashkenazi, and Colleen Mullen argue [...]

Lenny Marcus and Barry Dorn Interviewed by the Washington Post

"...the first, overarching lesson from our research is that bad leadership – much like smoking – is a public health risk factor. Whether in the aftermath of a terror attack or a natural disaster, we have seen that when leaders don’t perform well lives are lost and people abandoned" Lenny Marcus and Barry Dorn share thoughts on leading in a post-Bin Laden world in the Washington Post. Read [...]

Assessing Steve Jobs as a Leader

Eric McNulty takes a look at the leadership impact of Apple CEO Steve Jobs -- with a view to why the many assessments that poured forth after his death were premature. Apple certainly makes wonderful products but it will take time to determine if Jobs was as great a leader as some have dubbed him after his unfortunate early death: In natural systems, hierarchies are built from the [...]

The Complexity of Complexity

Much of management is about simplifying complexity—leadership requires embracing it. Spreadsheets, process flow diagrams, slideware, organizational charts: Each of these helps codify a commitment to a worldview that is linear, orderly, and predictable. Relationships are precisely delineated.  Plans march step-by-step toward a predetermined end. Cause and effect are crystal clear. Unfortunately, the world in which we all operate is far more complex. While these snapshots of simplicity can [...]