National Preparedness and the Five Dimensions of Meta-Leadership

Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D.; Isaac Ashkenazi, M.D., M.P.A.; Barry C. Dorn, M.D., M.H.C.M.; and Joseph M. Henderson, M.P.A.

Achievement of national preparedness – given current natural and man-made threats – requires a heightened capacity for effective cross-sector government, business, and nonprofit, coordination of effort. This objective is hindered by the tendency of leaders to advocate the specific interests and purposes of their narrow SILO of activity.

META-LEADERS think and perform differently. They recognize that achieving genuine national preparedness demands a spirit of cooperation combined with tangible inter-agency mechanisms that activate JOINTNESS.

By intentionally linking and leveraging the efforts of many sectors of the community, meta-leaders galvanize a valuable connectivity of effort and a stronger community of fabric.

META-LEADERSHIP reframes the process and practice of leaders. It has three functions: 1) A comprehensive organizing reference to understand and integrate the many facets of leadership; 2) A strategy to engage collaborative activity; 3) A cause and purpose to improve community functioning and performance. There are five dimensions to the learning and practice of meta-leadership:

  • THE PERSON OF THE META-LEADER: Emotional intelligence: self awareness and self-regulation. The capacity to confront fear, which takes you to your emotional “basement.” Meta-leaders lead themselves and others out of the “basement” to higher levels of thinking and functioning.
  • SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: With often incomplete information, the meta-leader creates a broad “frame of reference,” used to determine what is happening, the presenting choice points, and then to chart and meta-lead a course of action, effectively recruiting wide engagement and support.
  • LEADING YOUR SILO: The meta-leader triggers and models confidence, inspiring others to excellence. The meta-leader drives the learning curve to elevate quality and performance, encouraging strong, effective subordinates who themselves further galvanize cross-silo connectivity.
  • LEADING UP: Validating the power-command equation, the meta-leader effectively “manages the boss.” Truth to power, effective communication, and being a great subordinate are critical, especially when subject matter experts report to and guide political, business, community leaders.
  • LEADING CROSS-AGENCY CONNECTIVITY: Meta-leaders strategically and intentionally devise cross-silo linkages that leverage expertise, resources, and information across the spectrum of public agencies and private constituencies, integrating and thereby optimizing capacity and response.

Leading Up & Leading Down together are Vertical Connectivity. Leading Across Silos is Horizontal Connectivity.

This post re-produced with the expressed permission of Leonard J. Marcus, Ph.D. Originally seen at

Dr. Marcus will be leading an intensive meta leadership training at Forum in Tulum, Mexico.