#070: You're It - Crisis, Change & How To Lead When It Matters Most - Co-Author & Associate Director of NPLI Eric McNulty

Crisis will strike and we as leaders will have prepared ourselves and our organizations or we will fail in our response. 

In this Boston-based episode, Fran Racioppi sits down with Eric McNulty, Co-Author of “You're It: Crisis, Change and How to Lead When it Matters Most” and Associate Director of the National Preparedness Leadership Institute, to explain how success in crisis comes down to Meta-Leadership and our ability to lead down, up, across and beyond. Fran and Eric also discuss strategies to make sense of complexity, the perspective of the cone in the cube, knowns, forces, and a lightning round of crisis leadership do’s and don'ts.

Read Eric's book, "You're It: Crisis, Change and How To Lead When It Matters Most." 

Find him on Twitter @richerearth & LinkedIn. Learn more about the National Preparedness Leadership Institute at Harvard at npli.sph.harvard.edu and on Twitter @harvardnpli

Read the full episode transcription here and learn more on The Jedburgh Podcast Website. Check out our video versions on YouTube.


-Meta-Leadership requires a broad view of the crisis at hand and connections up, down, across & beyond. (5:57)

-People find themselves as “it” by position, default or appointment. Fran asks Eric to describe the type of leaders who rise to the challenge vs those that falter from the start. (8:47)

-Eric breaks down the difference between the four types of knowns and how we separate what is known from what can be known. (18:01)

-Fran and Eric discuss how “Swarm Leadership” defined the response to the Boston Marathon bombing, yet no one was clearly in charge. (23:45) 

-Leading in a crisis requires an understanding of systems, complexity and adaptation. (33:30)

-Eric explains why chaos is natural and important; but how it must be balanced with order. (38:58)

-The POP-DOC Loop (a descendant of the OODA Loop) allows leaders to separate the complex from the complicated. (59:35)

-Fran challenges Eric to a quick-hit session on crisis leadership. (1:14:08)


-”You can’t always prevent the initial incident…You can always prevent the secondary crisis of a fumbled response.” (7:02)

-”Failure is always an option. It may not be your preferred option…but things can go wrong.” (12:33)

-“You always want to know who you’re going to call upon to be on your team.” (15:38) 

-”Simplicity is an antidote to complication…get the complication out of the system.” (35:32)

-”When you try and control everything you often actually create more chaos.” (40:08)

-”Whenever someone is yelling at you, there’s a lot to learn.” (43:45)

-“We humans make sense of the world through pattern making.” (1:01:12)

-”No complex crisis is solved by one person acting alone.” (1:05:30)

Eric’s 3 Foundations to Success


-Conduct a horizon scan of the day’s news and events

-Walk the dog without a phone to be present and find calm 

This episode is brought to you by Jersey Mike’s, 18A Fitness, and Analytix Solutions