Eric McNulty is a crisis and change leadership educator, virtual and in-person speaker, author, and provocateur. Eric serves as the associate director for the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard University. His responsibilities include conducting research, writing on leadership topics, and giving classes on the topic of leadership in high-stakes, high-pressure situations.

Eric McNulty is the primary author of the case studies that the NPLI has published on leadership decision-making in the response to the Boston Marathon bombing, innovation in the response to Hurricane Sandy, and the professional-political interface in the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He is the co-author of the meta-leadership paradigm and practice technique book You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most. He is also passionate about the environment, social entrepreneurship, and building inclusive, purpose-centric teams and organizations.

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    1. What is the importance of crisis management?
    2. The pressure on a leader during crisis management.
    3. What are the tips you can use when approaching a crisis?
    4. Why is it important to show empathy and kindness for people in traumatic conditions with the crisis?
    5. The importance of agility and courage in a crisis.

    To realize that jobs could be at stake, lives could be at stake, the community could be in danger . . . that’s a lot of pressure that can overwhelm you, and that’s when things tend to go the wrong way.”

    Eric McNulty

    National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard


      [04.19] A sneak peek into Eric’s personal life and passions.

      [06.25] When crisis management goes well, lives are saved.

      [10.35] How Eric prepares leaders for crisis and how he advises them during a crisis.

      [12:31] Eric’s entry into the LATTOYG Playbook

      [18.50] Showing empathy and taking care of people who are going to be traumatic in a crisis like families and friends is a high priority.

      [24.52] How Eric stays at the top of his game.

      [25:57] Signature Segment:  Eric’s LATTOYG Tactics of Choice

      [27.21] The importance of agility in a crisis.

      [30.58] Eric’s book on crisis management, ‘You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most.’

      [34:30] Signature Segment: Karan’s Take


      Eric McNulty is a crisis and change leadership educator, virtual and in-person speaker, author, and provocateur. Eric serves as the associate director for the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard University. His responsibilities include conducting research, writing on leadership topics, and giving classes on the topic of leadership in high-stakes, high-pressure situations.

      McNulty is the primary author of the case studies that the NPLI has published on leadership decision-making in the response to the Boston Marathon bombing, innovation in the response to Hurricane Sandy, and the professional-political interface in the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He is the co-author of the meta-leadership paradigm and practice technique book You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most. He is also passionate about the environment, social entrepreneurship, and building inclusive, purpose-centric teams and organizations.



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      Episode 45 | Leading Thru a Workplace or Event Crisis with Eric McNulty

      Eric McNulty  00:00

      The crisis leadership I look at I find very important because when it goes well, lives are saved. Communities are saved. It really is. It’s the most high impact situation that any leader can find themselves in.


      Voiceover  00:17

      Welcome to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast, where we equip you to more effectively lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. Each week, we help you sharpen your leadership acumen by cracking open the playbooks of dynamic leaders who are doing big things in their professional endeavors. And now, your host, leadership tactics, and organizational development expert, Karan Ferrell-Rhodes.


      Karan Rhodes  00:52

      Hey there superstars, this is Karan Rhodes, and thanks for joining another episode designed to help you better lead at the top of your game. Have you ever led through a major crisis? I mean, a truly significant one. I mean, think about the fraud that occurred at Enron or something like the E. coli scare that Chipotle had a few years back? Or do you think way back, you might remember the financial collapse of Lehman Brothers, and also the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon. But if you ever had to guide your team through such a challenging time, would you know what to do? To give us some tips on what leaders should do in times of crisis? We haven’t today’s show. Eric McNulty, Associate Director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard. His work centers on leading in high stakes, high pressure situations, and I want you to be sure to listen for when Eric shares with us the first three things that we should do whenever a crisis happens. And stay tuned to after the episode just for two minutes to listen to my closing segment called Karan’s Take, where I share a tip on how to use insights from today’s episode to further sharpen your leadership acumen. And now, enjoy the show. Hey there, superstars, this is Karan and welcome to another episode of the Lead at the Top of Your Game podcast. I am so pleased to have an expert on this today’s show, who will talk to us about crisis management and a lot of the things as it relates to leadership. And believe you me if you’re a leader, you’re going to come across crises at some point in time. And to be honest with you, you might be like a deer in headlights trying to figure out how to handle them. And so to help navigate us and give us some points and tips on what to do in those situations. We’re so pleased to have on today’s show, Mr. Eric McNulty, who’s the Associate Director of the National prepared Leadership Initiative at Harvard. His work centers on leading high stakes high pressure situations. And he’s the principal author of Case Studies on Crises such as the Boston Marathon Marathon Bombing response, Superstorm Sandy, and we all remember that, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and I was fascinated when that was happening, and even watch the movie afterwards to see if there any other any other information because all of those crises were top of mind, especially in the United States. He’s also the co author of the book, You’re IT, Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most. So welcome to the podcast, Eric.


      Eric McNulty  03:44

      Thanks, Karan. I’m thrilled to be here. Oh, we’re so thrilled to


      Karan Rhodes  03:47

      have you and are you ready to crack open your leadership playbook on the area of crisis management?


      Eric McNulty  03:54

      I will do my best because there’s plenty of crises out there for people to deal with.


      Karan Rhodes  03:58

      That is true. If we all take one each event we can create a better world. Let me tell you. Well, before we dive in on your topic, Eric, we always love to learn a little bit about our guests. So as much as you feel comfortable, would you mind giving us a sneak peek into your personal life and passions?


      Eric McNulty  04:19

      Sure. I have a wide variety of interests. One of the ones that most people don’t know about is I’m really crazy about elephants. Yes, I elephants are so so close to us in many ways. They don’t look it but they’re emotionally complex. They live in really, you know, familial groups. They are long lived like us. And they are a keystone species in their ecosystem. Literally in Africa, this the African savanna would not exist without elephants. And so all these other species are dependent upon them. And I always think that’s a good good analogy, a different way for us to look at the world because if we don’t have a world where elephants will thrive, we don’t have a world we’re going to thrive very well. on either end. So there are big charismatic megafauna, and pretty much everyone thinks all we can see an elephant. But they’re really complex, really interesting animals. So I like them and a portion of all my speaking fees goes to support big Life Foundation, which does very holistic approach to species conservation and habitat preservation and sustainable development with the communities that cohabitate with elephants. So that’s when we put a lot of a lot of time and effort into


      Karan Rhodes  05:26

      Wonderful. That is so inspiring. And can you repeat that organization again, because I want to include that as a link in your show notes.


      Eric McNulty  05:33

      Absolutely. It’s a big Life Foundation, it’s And they do some amazing work every day for quite a while. And none of well large, well known organization, but they do some of the most important work on the ground.


      Karan Rhodes  05:45

      That is amazing. Well, I personally appreciate you giving a portion of your speaker fees, it sounds like a most deserving organization. And hopefully, our listeners will do the same as well. So thank you for sharing.


      Eric McNulty  05:58

      Thank you.


      Karan Rhodes  06:00

      All right, well, let’s take a pivot and began talking about some of those high stakes high pressure situations that you’re an expert on. So can you start by sharing with us a little bit about your area of focus, and a few, and why you got passionate about really doubling down and understanding crisis management.


      Eric McNulty  06:25

      Well, I think that the crisis leadership I look at I find very important, because when it goes, well, lives are saved, communities are saved, it really is, it’s the most high impact situation that any leader can find themselves in, it doesn’t call so much for a different set of skills as it does for practicing your core skills at the, at your absolute highest level. So think of think of, we just had the French Open, for any tennis players out there, you’re playing with the same racket the same balls on the same size court as the weekend hacker, but they’re playing at a whole different level. So when you’re in a crisis, you’ve got to be able to communicate well, demonstrate emotional intelligence, make decisions, you’re gonna be able to do all those things that are important every day, but with the pressure of a crisis with the glare of the media, perhaps with the high consequences. So you’ve got to really, really be able to perform at that high level. And I think understanding that was is really important to me, that really fascinated me. And also because it’s you know, we always talk about singular leaders. But often crises are resolved by a group of leaders working together, it’s rarely one person, right? And so again, the human dynamic here, I find really interesting, because we as a species, we’re social species, were meant to be in groups, and meant to work well in groups, yet, we all we do our best to confound that when we design our organizations, and a lot of the rules and protocols we put in place, have us always competing with each other. So that’s really what is intrigued me. And again, what’s really driving force has been that I get to work with a lot of frontline leaders, and when if I can help them do their job, just a little bit better lives are saved, and what more could you ask for than that


      Karan Rhodes  08:05

      Not a thing. I mean, that is so critically important, because you’re right when, and I’ve helped leaders do a few of those I’ll and won’t mention them just to protect their identity. But they’re, you know, enterprise level companies and organizations that had to really straddle that difficult time. What I have found, and I want to understand if you agree, and it’s okay, if you don’t, you can throw tomatoes at me Eric. But I have found that those traits that are areas of opportunity for growth for leaders, those behavioral traits really come out there in crisis leadership, meaning that it gets even worse, and it may hold back their effectiveness. And sometimes they need a coach or mentor someone to kind of call them out on it to or help them through it, so that it doesn’t derail the corrective efforts that you are trying to implement. Do you see that as well? Or do you see something different?


      Eric McNulty  09:07

      No, absolutely. Because I think in a crisis, things tend to feel a bit out of control. So what do people try and do they try and assert control who they want, they want to bring some semblance of order back to a situation which is, which is important. But often people, leaders will get into a situation where they begin micromanaging or they centralized decision making, they become a bottleneck, and even sometimes a single point of failure, and they become much less effective. And so that sort of almost instinctual response to I’ve got to do everything is the exact wrong thing to do. Again, you could always tell the difference between someone who’s facing their first crisis, or someone who’s been through two or three before because they don’t panic quite as much. And they’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. And as I mentioned earlier, you’ve got to be able to make decisions. You’ve got to be able to demonstrate high emotional intelligence to keep your team functioning really well. You’ve got to be able to keep a good broad perspective on the situation because you’re in, you know, you’re, you are that person that you’re leading in who people are looking to. And so you’re creating the conditions in which others can help solve the problem, which others can rise and do their best, which is what you’re going to need in a large crisis.


      Karan Rhodes  10:18

      That’s so true. That is so true. So the type of consulting or advisement work that you do, do you help prepare leaders for such situations? Or do people typically have you on speed dial, when it’s hit the fan?


      Eric McNulty  10:35

      Well, a lot of it is preparing leaders, I will say, although we do get the opportunity to be with leaders in the midst of crisis or soon thereafter. So the things you met the event you mentioned earlier, deepwater and Sandy, and the Boston Marathon bombings, those were events where I was able to be on the ground with leaders, those are often former students who’ve come through an executive education program at Harvard. So they feel comfortable reaching out and saying, Hey, can you come be someone I can talk to this? Definitely, there is a consultant. But then there is someone they can talk to. Right. And that’s, that helps a lot to have someone who’s knows enough about what’s going on, but isn’t intimately involved in situations, you can just talk to you and say, what are you seeing what’s going on or give it I’m thinking about doing? That sounding board is really, really important. And so, then being able to share those lessons, when that part of apparent is, is walking through events with with people who come to an exec ed program, or I meet in a one on one kind of situation, to say, you know, here’s the situations you might face, let’s talk through what it’s going to feel like what you may have the decisions, you may have to make the really tough calls, if you may maybe call debate to have to decide, those are really critically important. And unless you’ve been through both the sort of technical operational piece, and I think even more important, the emotional piece, because the feel that pressure to really do realize when things are, you know, jobs could be at life, save lives could be at stake, your community could be in danger. That’s a lot of pressure if you haven’t experienced those emotions before they can overwhelm you. And that’s when things really had to go the wrong way.


      Karan Rhodes  12:08

      I so agree with that. I’m wondering if you can, because I’m sure you talk through case studies and have them practice ahead of time. Is it possible that you could share with us maybe one or two tips that you always make sure that you’re including in your discussions with the teams, you know, on how they should think about our approach times such as those?


      Eric McNulty  12:31

      Absolutely. And so the the first thing I always tell people, and this may seem overly simplistic, but it’s really critical, is breathe, like breathe with because when you control your breathing, you control everything else that’s going on in your body. So when you take some slow, controlled breaths, just back out again, you slow down your heart rate, you calm things down. And you get, you can get control, you can get out of what we call the emotional base, which is a deer in the headlights, freeze flight fight, panic response, that exerts some some control over your body and calms you down. So that’s the most important thing. Don’t forget to breathe. And then the second thing is actually to look at what you can slow down. Because price is everything seems to move more quickly. And some things do have to move really fast. But often, there are things which aren’t moving fast. But will we ever get a better outcome if you slowed down a bit? So look and say, okay, which things are really in me of immediate concern, which things should Can I have the time to take to talk about a little bit to think about before I do them, and so exerting some control over the pace of what’s happening, is really important. And then the third thing, I think, is to distribute leader a decision making authority. I mentioned a few minutes ago that in a crisis, again, leaders tend to pull things in. And they want to do it all themselves, they tend to micromanage. They start to centralize control. And what you do then is you create a bottleneck that can slow everything down. If you can distribute decision making and authority. Again, the people who weren’t doing their job yesterday, you’ve got were perfectly competent, are still perfectly competent today. So let them do their job if you can, if people are grounded in the values of the organization that the organization really believes in, not stop, they just say they do, what they really believe in, and the core operating principle to the business. They’ll know how to make the right decisions, they’ll know how to get things done, you got to let them do that. Yes, you want to be informed Yes, in certain decisions only you can make if you’re in a senior executive role. That’s great. Make those and the other ones push out your take some things off your plate, which gives you the room to have that broader view who have a bigger perspective and be able to make the right strategic decisions not just be sucked into all the tactical stuff. So breathe, distribute that power and authority. Now that’s really going to get get you where you want to go and slow things down where you need to don’t be afraid to slow things down. That was a third piece there. Yes.


      Karan Rhodes  14:53

      I love this. I love all this three and I was taking this and writing this down. I have a question on your for the last one. about when you’re distributing leadership decisions. I agree 110%. But how does the the ultimate executive or leader, how do they instruct their teams on which decisions to escalate to them versus not.


      Eric McNulty  15:17

      So this is where exercises, and it’s a scenario building is so important. So you can decide, okay, if we have to close a facility, I want to make that decision. If we need to evacuate part of it, or make some move to shut down part of our production line and move some things over here. Great, you, you’re more expert than that, you just go do it. It may be again, if there are lives in Lyon, I have been in situations working with organizations where they’ve been employees kidnapped, and so you decided to negotiate or not, and there’s a whole science to that. And they’re a specialist in kidnapping response and Ransom situations, but they’re the country managers working with said, you know, ultimately, I want to hear everybody’s opinion on that one, what we’re going to do, but I have to make a decision, because if it goes wrong, and that person doesn’t come home, I have to own that, I have to talk to the family that’s on me, I’m not going to put that on you. So by talking through what the consequences may be, and say, you know, I need to own that decision. But a bunch of other ones, let’s figure out how you push them out and distribute them. That way they can get, they can get done more quickly. Because if I’m a very senior executive, and I’m deciding what sandwiches to order for the War Room, that’s bad, right. And that’s an extreme example, but you do get people who start again, they tend to micromanage or go into that operational role. And it bogs them down, it slows everyone else down. And it keeps them from doing what they should be doing, which is looking at the big picture, anticipating what’s going to happen next, and making sure the organization is ready to get ahead of the crisis. Because once you get behind it, it’s really, really hard to catch up.


      Karan Rhodes  16:47

      Yes, it sure is. You’re so spot on with that. And I’m just curious, and it’s okay, if you you’re not quite sure what you would do. But right now, and I’m kind of dating the episode, because right now in the news, or we’re all waiting to hear about the vessel, the vessel that is was looking for at the Titanic, and it’s missing right now. And I’m sure the the lead organization is going through crisis management right now. Because they don’t know if people are, you know, alive or passed away. There’s, you know, so many agencies and entities involved in trying to search for the vessel. It’s on the news 24/7. And I’m just curious if you were brought in to advise the people in this situation, because I think the CEO is in the vessel as well. So the ultimate leader is not available. I’m curious if there’s one or two things that you would advise the rest of the staff right now, is it? I’m sure it’s to breathe, number one. Number two, see what they can slow down, if anything. And then what else? Would you try to guide them?


      Eric McNulty  18:07

      First of all my heart goes out to the family and friends of those on that vessel. This is tragic, and I hope is a good outcome to this. We won’t know for another few hours. But yeah, there is. But so this is where I would say that my advice to people is you have multi level multi level crisis, okay, you’re the vessel which may be lost, because people on boring to you, but and it’s all over the international news. And you’ve got a crisis at that level, if your questions about whether the company did the proper certification and testing of the vessel, which is a second crisis. And then you have your CEO on board, as you mentioned, so you’ve got a continuity crisis within the organization. So what I would say there is, first of all, put people first, make sure you’re demonstrating empathy and taking care of people this is gonna be traumatic, obviously, for those who, you know, the people on board their family and friends, for the organization itself, with their CEO down there and having lost customers. You know, it’s one thing is, this is transactional people paid to be there. But you get invested in the people who are taking part in something like this. And yes, it’s high risk. They knew what they were getting into. This is like climbing Mount Everest, right? People die every year trying to do it, but people keep trying to do it. This is a high risk endeavor. But still you you’ve got to take care of that. So I think, you know, this is a story. In the book, I got advice from a CEO who went through a big crisis a 911. And said, I put the people issues in one hand and I put the business issues in the other hand, anything when I found out was the more insecure the people issues, the human stuff, the more the business issues seem to resolve themselves, and gotta take care of the people first, both in your organization, because people who are on the vessel, those who are who are connected to those on the vessel, take care of those people. And you know, the rest of it, you’re gonna you’re gonna worry about messing things you can slow down. Yes, you’re gonna get sued. We’ll deal with that later. That’s going to happen no matter what most crises that have happened at some point. But have that empathy is for yourselves. And for those around, you take care of each other, really, really, really resilient organizations are full of people that take care of each other. So do that and then express empathy for all those who are affected by this.


      Karan Rhodes  20:12

      Mmm hmm. No, that sounds good. And I, I agree. And I concur. My our thoughts and prayers are with the families and with everyone involved, because you’re right, I think the whole world is invested and the individuals and story right now, and I hope things work out well. But I was just curious, because this is a real time crisis. And we we didn’t plan this you and I, we’ve been trying to get you on the podcast forever. But it just so happens that this is in the news right now. So it kind of popped up top of mind. I know you’ve done various case studies on you know, different types of crises is there’s one that’s kind of additional one that’s very memorable for you that you have thoughts about?


      Eric McNulty  20:54

      You know, one of the ones that I hate to say I enjoyed the crisis, but it was really, really interesting was then that Superstorm Sandy response, I was going down to New York, in New York in New Jersey. And I got to deploy with a FEMA innovation team. So the Federal Emergency Management Agency, at the time had a, a innovation team. It was two people from inside FEMA, and then a bunch of self deployed volunteers. They were technologists and designers and supply chain people. About three dozen,


      Karan Rhodes  21:25

      How did you get in there? I got to know Eric, how did you get connected.


      Eric McNulty  21:29

      One of my former students was one of the two people who went from FEMA and her bosses, it was now a faculty colleague of mine, but with somebody else who I knew through through my work at Harvard. And so they said, you know, come again, come on down. And also the District Commander for the for the Coast Guard was a former student, and I spent time with him as well. So that’s where you have those connections, because they Yeah, come in, be with us. And I get to be with him for several days, seeing what they were doing, being part of that seeing how frustrating bureaucracy can be sometimes how you work around it, and really seeing the ingenuity of people and this team went out and they what they get as an innovation team was a let’s look for the gaps. Where are the things that the agencies on the ground are getting to or the people they’re overlooking, let’s see if we can help figure out those problems. And that was everything from finding a wheelchair at the local Akia to get to somebody who needed a wheelchair. And you know, making that happen to building mesh networks in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, and setting up to allow people to communicate. And so it’s just really, really interesting to see how that happened to me and how people self deploy, they weren’t getting paid. Nobody really knows who they are. And they were getting a lot of credit, it was really because they wanted to help. And so seeing that work, so connected to many of those people who I met on that trip. That’s when it really touched me. And I think as we look at the many crises we face going forward, the more we can tap into community to tap into that human human spirit of helping each other and seeing all the talent around us. And rather than okay, you know, you haven’t got the right uniform on you go away to help tell me what you have to offer, let’s figure out how to take advantage of that, overuse that and bring you into the response, as opposed to saying go sit on the sidelines. That’s really when when we’re at our best as communities,


      Karan Rhodes  23:13

      I definitely agree. And we have a person we have interviewed that will be on an upcoming episode who has a nonprofit that specializes in natural responses to natural disasters. And she was saying, it’s just when ingenuity really popped in when you said that it reminded me of my conversation with her. She said, It is just amazing how we as humans, can are you know, really drive ingenuity and during times of crisis and hidden gifts and traits, and everything comes out during that, that time and people are so open and accepted to that and she’s you know, makes you wonder, why aren’t we in everyday life? You know, using all of these gifts and being accepting of everyone’s ingenuity at that time? Why does it have to be a crisis? When our guard rails, you know, fall and we’re all in it, it just helps support the crisis in general. But it was a fascinating episode. And I bet that was fascinating to watch. You had a front row seat, if you will. I’m not celebrating, you know, the storm but but you got to see the you know, human behavior during that time. And I bet it was just absolutely fascinating.


      Eric McNulty  24:30

      It really was interesting. I used to live in New York In New Jersey, so it was a being able to go back to the neighborhoods I knew and see people working like that it was really inspiring.


      Karan Rhodes  24:40

      That is the main thing. So I’m curious, Eric, because you study this so much. What does it take for you to lead at the top of your game in your this niche area that you study?


      Eric McNulty  24:52

      I have learned that I need to create a little bit of space for myself to be able to process and reflect to part of where the slowdown He’s really works well for me is and I also, I’ve learned that about myself, I need this kind of process for a couple of seconds and then figure it out, I’m actually pretty good at seeing patterns emerging so much faster than other people can see them. But only if I have a tiny little bit of time to reflect and kind of take that take that bigger view, that I love to be surrounded by people who are smarter than me. And more. Yeah, that’s, if I’m the smartest one in the room, we’re in trouble. But I’ve really learned through a number of roles I’ve had in life, even before I was doing this work, that when you’ve got people who’ve got expertise, trust in their expertise, and listen to them, and and they will guide you, they will get you there, you may have to provide some direction sometimes, or some motivation or some inspiration or just create some top cover for them. But when you’ve got people who know what they’re doing, let them do it and tap into that that’s a, let them lead from where they are. Even if they don’t have the highest title in the organization.


      Karan Rhodes  25:57

      That’s part of the yes, that is a negative goal, I learned the hard way through, through my time in corporate America. And you know, by the end, you know, I was very proud of being able to build high performing teams, because that was a lesson that I learned, you know, during my, you know, leadership times there. And it’s extremely important. And it’s no matter what company or industry you’re in, whether you’re work at a nonprofit or business or entrepreneur, you know, doesn’t matter. Allow those that are around you to give them like you said space to show their expertise, allow them to shine and just be there as a guiding mentor, if needed. So I love that. Definitely not Eric, one of the things that we love to ask our guests on the podcast is, if there were any of the seven leadership tactics that I write about in my book that really resonated with them, and you were so kind to share that you really love leading with courageous agility. And for our audience members, if you remember leading with courageous agility is all about having the courage and the fortitude to do what’s right and still move forward. Even if the feature is unclear, uncertain. And based on your area of expertise is not quite as surprised that you select that one. But I would love to hear from you in your in your words, why leading with courageous agility really resonated with you.


      Eric McNulty  27:21

      Absolutely. I love this one absolute absolute, because, again, in crisis calls for courage, we talk a lot about that. And you don’t really know what it means that the you have to stand up and, you know, again, make a decision that could cost or save someone’s life, where you may have to tell truth to power to someone more more powerful than you are, which will put your job at risk. And you really have to be willing to stand up for what you believe in, and what you think is right and for doing the right thing in that moment. So that courage piece is really important. And then a crisis because things are moving quickly. You usually don’t understand all the information yet, right? That picture really isn’t clear that agility is very important. You’ve got to be able to adapt and adjust. But we’ve talking in my book with my colleagues about being able to pivot and knowing which put the plant in which foot to move. You think about a basketball player, right? You’d have to move both legs. And so having that agility and being able to think quickly, act quickly. And again, it’s part of why I emphasize distributing decision making an authority in a crisis because that makes the organization more agile. They need to make a decision, it’s all going to it’s all going to bog down. But if we are if everyone’s sensing what’s going on, and they’re they’re rooted in values, they’re rooted in core operating principles, so they know the terrain, and they know where the guardrails are, then they can make independent decisions, they can take action more quickly, because they’re closer to the ground closer to the action that makes us more agile. So I think that courageous agility is, those are the, we’ll put that on the t shirt. You know, we


      Karan Rhodes  28:51

      I’m working on that, actually. Yeah. That’s wonderful. Well, thank you. Thank you for sharing that and fantastic. And I’m always fascinated about what it takes to differentiate some leaders from others, like, what is it that made them more special than maybe 90% of their peers or what have you? And so I’m curious, Eric, is there an individual or brands or an entity out there that you really, really admire as being someone who’s leading at the top of their game?


      Eric McNulty  29:27

      Yes. And I know earlier, we talked about Yvon Chouinard from Patagonia who I think is fabulous. And he just stepped down as as CEO to build a fabulous brand there, but actually, I’m gonna go to somebody else given what’s happening in the world right now. Sure. Chef, Jose Andres from World Central Kitchen.


      Karan Rhodes  29:44

      Love him! Love him. Yeah.


      Eric McNulty  29:47

      I love him. He has stepped up in so many ways, and not just him. But again, the people he has empowered the people he has brought together to defeat people in Ukraine. It seems like anywhere anything bad is happening. They show up with the most simple Working thing which is food and love, they bring together and and I think he has gone from being obviously a top flight restaurant tour top flight. best chef in the world. I’ve never actually one of those meals, but I’ve heard he’s the was the best chef in the world to say, you know, I’m gonna go cook words not pretty. And it’s you know things are going sideways. We’re gonna go cook and take care of people and so to me that is absolutely leading at the top of his game.


      Karan Rhodes  30:28

      Oh my gosh, he is one of my faves. I actually talk about him when I speak many times. I have a list of those I’ll pick from based on the audience, but he’s definitely one that I pull for him and talk about. So we’re like minded people think like you and I, Eric. So I can’t let you get off the episode without you sharing a little bit about your book. Can you talk to us about your book in and some of the highlights that’s contained there in?


      Eric McNulty  30:58

      Well, thank you who book is You’re It! Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most. It brings together 15 years of of practice and research from the national preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard. So it takes you inside some of the academic thinking, but also a lot of practical on the ground stories from places like Sandy and the other crises you mentioned, because that’s how we’ve learned, we’ve learned by watching leaders do things well do things not so well. And then trying to crystallize them into easy concepts and tools for other people to be able to pick up and use. And so distilling that wisdom and trying to get people a little bit wiser faster, I guess, is the best way to say it. That’s what’s in the books. There’s a lot of stories there from not just us, but the people we’ve been with leading in a whole variety of situations where the consequences were high, what they did, and then to crystallize that in terms of understanding who you are as a person, understanding the situation around you. And then the conductivity the relationships down to your team, up to your boss across to your peers, and then beyond your external stakeholders. If you’re leaving in a crisis, and you’re those are really good lenses for figuring out what’s going right, and what’s going wrong. You know, am I centered? Am I calm? Am I sure what’s going on? Do I really understand the situation? And then where’s that conductivity, strong or weak PTR people working together or against each other. And that’s, we’ve tried to make it very approachable and practical book. And I hope folks who hear this will want to go pick up a copy and read it. And I’d love to hear from them if if they like it, or if they don’t like it. I want to hear from them anyway.


      Karan Rhodes  32:29

      Well, I’m going to be one to pick it up. I was fascinated when I saw the summary. So that is going to probably be my next purchase on Amazon. But we will have links to where to find it in our show notes, audience member, so definitely, definitely pick that up. And, Eric, if anyone wanted to reach out to you for consulting or advice, is there a best way to find you?


      Eric McNulty  32:55

      Sure. Well, I is my website. There’s a contact form there, you can get me I’m easily found on LinkedIn. And the program at Harvard is in, you can find my me and my colleagues at a lot of our case studies and things there. If people want to read more


      Karan Rhodes  33:13

      wonderful, and audience members, we will definitely have links to those as well in the show notes. So Eric, I cannot believe time is up. But this has been a fantastic episode. And thank you so much for the gift of your time today.


      Eric McNulty  33:27

      Okay, thank you so much for asking me your great question. Asker. So I really appreciate the conversation. It’s been a lot of fun.


      Karan Rhodes  33:34

      Oh, that means a lot coming from you, sir, I tell ya. And thank you also audience members, we definitely would love for you to like and subscribe to our podcasts. And please SHARE with just one friend. Because when you do so that helps us extend our reach and help others just like you to lead at the top of your game. Thanks again for the gift of your time and see you next week. Well, I hope you enjoyed our conversation today with Eric McNulty, Associate Director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard, and also the author of the book You’re It! Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most. Links to his bio his entry into our leadership playbook. And additional resources can be found in the show notes book on your favorite podcast platform of choice and on the web at lead your game And now for Karan’s take on today’s topic of response during a crisis. I’ve led many a workplace crisis and believe you me It’s never easy. So I wanted to take this time to share 10 quick tips on what you can do as a leader when you find yourself right dab in the middle of what. So the first quick tip is to create a crisis management team that contains expertise related to the crisis. This is not the time to include every single leader within your organization, be very specific and keep the working team small. Your second tip is to clear all of the teams table of any other unnecessary responsibilities. If it’s not urgent, then clear their calendars. The third tip is to focus on gathering the facts, but search with empathy and compassion, because chances are, there’s going to be some bad information that’s going to be part of the story. That’s what made it a crisis in the first place. Your fourth tip is to resolve what you initially can as soon as possible because fear paralyzes people, try to make some early wins to buy time, for the longer tasks that you’re gonna have to tackle down the road. The fifth task is to be present. No non-essential activities like non urgent meetings are non-essential business trips, or social events like golf outings, stay focused on the crisis. The sixth tip is to always be poised and positive. Others are going to feed off of how you react during the height of the crisis. So remain resilient and calm. The seventh tip involves crisis communication, be sure that you over communicate during this time, because attention spans get diverted because the heightened emotions that everyone is feeling. So over communicate over communicate over communicate. The eighth tip is to take ownership of what went wrong. Once you get a good feel for the details, immediately share with all stakeholders and take ownership. The ninth tip after the crisis is averted or solved, posted after action audit. During this audit, be sure to evaluate your response by conducting a debrief on what went well, and where there are opportunities to improve in the future. And the 10th and final tip, announce the close of the crisis activity, and deliver instructions on how all involved should move forward, you need to make sure that you close it out with everyone so that they know that the urgent response period is over, you’ll start slowly transitioning back to normal. And they’ll get instructions on any course corrections and they need to personally make if necessary. Now these are just some initial thoughts to get you started. But obviously there is more that can be done during the planning phases. So I’ll include a few resources in the show notes for you to learn a bit more. And I thank you for staying tuned for to Karan’s Take. Please remember to subscribe to the podcast and share with just one friend because this one selfless act will empower you to help others just like you to also lead at the top of their game. Thanks so much for listening and see you next week. And that’s our show for today. Thank you for listening to the lead at the top of your game podcast, where we help you lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. You can check out the show notes, additional episodes, and bonus resources, and also submit guest recommendations on our website at You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by searching for the name Karan Rhodes with Karan being spelled K a r a n. And if you like the show, the greatest gift you can give would be to subscribe and leave a rating on your podcast platform of choice. This podcast has been a production of Shockingly Different Leadership, a global consultancy which helps organizations execute their people, talent development, and organizational effectiveness initiatives on an on-demand, project, or contract basis. Huge thanks to our production and editing team for a job well done. Goodbye for now.

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