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Spring Journal

Volume 28, Issue 2

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Improving Situational Awareness: A Meta-Leadership Approach

Written by  Dr. BARRY C. DORN & ERIC J. MCNULTY Wednesday, 04 January 2012 20:00

Achieving optimal situational awareness is critical in any disaster response. The more complicated the event, the more difficult the task. There has been significant investment in incident command and management systems that clarify organizational structures, domains of authority, lines of responsibility, and common operating pictures (COP). These are excellent tools but they are insufficient for disaster response leadership. A view that encompasses the deeper, more complex dimensions of any crisis is required. At the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI), a joint program of the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the meta-leadership framework and practice method has been developed by observing leaders in high-stakes, high-pressure situations including large-scale natural and man-made disasters. One recent example: NPLI faculty and staff observed the slowly unfolding Deepwater Horizon disaster at the behest of Rear


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