Keynote Presentations

In the age of networks, the ability to adapt and transform is paramount. Drawing up his extensive research on the extraordinary collaboration and cooperation in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings as well as the latest research on swarm intelligence, psychological safety, teaming, and trust building, Eric presents a powerful and pragmatic framework for building highly adaptive, resilient, and trustworthy organizations.

Coping with a VUCAST World. These are challenging times for leaders. Some refer to this as VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. To this I add two elements: System-scale change (e.g. climate change and urbanization) and ubiquitous Transparency. I explore the implications for leaders and offer practical guidance for making sense of and increasing impact in an uncertain world. The antidote is building adaptive capacity, resilience, and high levels of trust into the organization.

Leading in the 21st century requires an artful blend of “same as it ever was” and “you’ve never seen this before.” Leading today requires embracing complexity, fostering adaptive capacity, and building resilience–all on a foundation of trust-based relationships with stakeholders. I present the concepts as well as pragmatic tools for putting them into practice.

Leadership moments come for all of us–some planned and some utterly unexpected. Will you be ready to set direction, make decisions, and inspire action when it is needed most? I use the dimensions of meta-leadership, the core of the curriculum at the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard, developed through work with hundreds of leaders in high stakes situations to help participants develop both their leadership capacity and capability.

Too often, firms think that risk communication is a tactical issue. It’s not. It is strategic and one of the greatest challenges for leaders. In this talk, I address the neurological and psychological barriers to risk perception; the three distinct phases in every risk-based incident—and how to “code switch” in order to achieve relevance in each; and how to maintain disciplined thinking and action amidst fast-changing events.

Leading in health care in the 21st century requires an artful blend of “same as it ever was” and “you’ve never seen this before.” Leading today requires embracing complexity, fostering adaptive capacity, and building resilience–all on a foundation of trust-based relationships with stakeholders. I present the concepts as well as pragmatic tools for putting them into practice.

Few sectors are evolving as quickly and dramatically as health care. Navigating this turbulence—in everything from technology to patient expectations to reimbursement models and more—requires leaders who take an enterprise view. They influence well beyond their authority up, down, and across their organizations and beyond to the full range of stakeholders. It requires leaders facile with multi-dimensional problem solving and systems thinking. The talk includes practical tools for putting the ideas to work.

Health care is an industry in transition—and sometimes convulsive turbulence. Technology and treatments evolve rapidly. Roles shift as business and care models shift. A more diverse workforce brings different backgrounds and expectations. More educated patients come prepared to negotiate their diagnosis and treatment.

Everywhere one turns, the system is rife with potential conflict. The ability to mitigate, manage, and resolve conflict is the new core competency for administrators and clinicians alike. In this session, McNulty presents the original, four-step Walk in the Woods framework and practice method for negotiation and conflict resolution that has been used effectively in settings as varied as interpersonal relations and hospital mergers.




Meet Eric McNulty

Eric J. McNulty holds an appointment as Director of Research and Professional Programs and Program Faculty at the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI), a joint program of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and as an Instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health. His work centers on leadership in high-stakes, high-stress situations. He teaches in multiple executive education and graduate-level courses on leadership, negotiation, and conflict resolution. He is currently working on a book based on meta- leadership, the core leadership framework of the NPLI curriculum. McNulty is the principal author of the NPLI’s case studies on leadership decision making in the Boston Marathon bombing response, innovation in the response Hurricane Sandy and the professional/political interface in the Deepwater Horizon response drawing upon his firsthand research as well as extensive interviews with leaders involved in the responses.

He is the co-author, along with Dr. Leonard Marcus and Dr. Barry Dorn, of the second edition of Renegotiating Health Care: Resolving Conflict to Build Collaboration (Jossey-Bass, 2011). He is co-author of a chapter on meta-leadership in the McGraw-Hill Homeland Security Handbook (2012) and the e-books Your Critical First 10 Days as a Leader (O’Reilly/Safari, 2015) and Three Critical Shifts for the Evolving Leader (O’Reilly, 2016).

McNulty is a widely published business author, speaker, and researcher. He writes a regular online column for Strategy + Business and contributes to O’Reilly Media. He has written multiple articles for the Harvard Business Review (HBR) as well as articles for Harvard Management Update, Strategy and Innovation, Marketwatch, Sloan Management Review, and Worthwhile magazine among others. His HBR cases have been anthologized and have been used in business education curricula in the United States and as far away as France and the Philippines.

Eric has spoken at conferences and other events for organizations such as Accenture, the Arthur Page Society, BeDo, Clean Gulf, Coca-Cola, Columbia Business School, the Executive Council of New York, Harvard Business School Publishing, HMG Strategy, IBM, International Institute for Analytics, MIT, Nuance, Oil Spill Response Group, O'Reilly Media, Premier Farnell, SAS, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), UPS, Virtuoso, and other major organizations subject to confidentiality restrictions. Previously, McNulty held management and communications roles in the private sector. McNulty holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics (with honors) from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Lesley University.


“Thanks so much for your presentation- it was so well received and a great start to our content. We enjoyed working with you and we are very pleased you could join us. [One CEO attendee] made a particular effort to tell me your material was exactly on point for him.”

Conference organizers of one 2016 keynote presentation

“[McNulty’s] ability to synthesize research with real world experience and present concepts in a holistic manner is unrivalled. He engages the audience in a way that galvanizes concepts so that they are easily recognized and implemented during times of crisis. Eric is an exceptional speaker, teacher and facilitator.”

G. Solecki, Vice President, International Association of Emergency Managers/Canada (NPLI participant)

“Eric McNulty is a rare talent: equal parts visionary, story teller, thought leader, and teacher. His views on leadership are breakthrough yet accessible to senior executives and aspiring leaders alike. But what truly sets Eric apart is his ability to communicate as a speaker. If your organization is searching for an authority on the topic of leadership, then you must bring Eric in to speak. You and your audience will be delighted with your decision.”

E. Lowitt, CEO, Nexus Global Advisors

“Eric is an accomplished speaker and possesses the ability to keep large groups intrigued and engaged while presenting complex materials - no small feat!”

S. Hoffman, FEMA (NPLI participant)

“Eric has a deep understanding of executive audiences and knows how to craft a compelling story for the listeners.”

A. Herrin, Harvard Business Review

“I recruited Eric to serve as moderator for a Columbia Business School Alumni Club of NY conference. Eric's leadership and intellectual contribution resulted in an extraordinarily smooth and engaging evening. The organizing committee and many participants commented that the event was among the most informative and enjoyable in the series. I would eagerly work with Eric again on future projects.”

N. Zeller, Columbia Business School Alumni Association

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