As leaders we often face moments of doubt or uncertainty – situations that knock us off our stride and cause us to as, ‘now what!?’  These moments, while unpleasant, offer an opportunity for self-assessment and reflection. Here are twenty questions to think about and discuss with your team the next time you face a ‘now what!?’ leadership moment. Mindset: start by asking about the leader sitting in your chair.
  1. How am I responsible for this situation? Set aside notions of ‘fault’ and ‘blame’ – focus instead on ‘ability to respond’. How are you able-to-respond… this situation?
  2. What is possible in this situation? This isn’t about ‘predictable’ or ‘likely’ – but what could or might be accomplished.
  3. What is your commitment? Given your ability-to-respond, and the possibility you see in this moment, what are you up for? What are you willing to stand up for?
Mission: explore your motivation for taking on the work at hand.
  1. What will it mean to accomplish your goal? What will it say about you, your team or your organization; how will the world be different?
  2. Why does this matter to you, as a person? Not as a manager, or in terms of your business – but as a person… why do you care about this?
  3. Why does this matter to the people on your team? Their motivations may be quite different than yours – that’s okay.  What matters is that they care like you do.
Relationships: examine your access to / understanding of the people whose help you need.
  1. Whose support / participation / commitment do you need in order to be successful?
  2. Who has the greatest influence with the people around you? Who casts the longest shadow in terms of how people think, talk and act?
  3. How often / how much time do you spend with these people and what is the quality of your conversations?
  4. What conversations could you have with them… what questions could you ask… such that they better understood your mission and mindset, and you better understood theirs?
Habits: look at the messages you are (or aren’t) sending through your personal behavior
  1. Where do you eat lunch? Who do you eat with?  Could someone approach you if they wanted to talk?
  2. Who do you speak to informally? What do you talk about most often?
  3. How do you spend your time when you have nothing planned?
  4. What do you do each and every day / week no matter what?
  5. If someone were to observe you at work, noting where you went, what you did, who you talked to and what you said – what would the observer conclude is most important to you?
Rituals: look at the messages you are (or aren’t) sending through your group activities behavior.
  1. What was is first and last thing discussed by your teams every day?
  2. Which group activities are nevercancelled, postponed or rescheduled?
  3. Which meetings do you attend no matter what? Who talks the most / least during those meetings, and how much of the talking is conversation vs presentation?
  4. When your management team does a site tour or area walk, what do they focus on? What do they look at, notice, record, and talk about later?
  5. What triggers a celebration or recognition in your organization? What are the occasions that cause someone to say, “let’s bring in a cake tomorrow”?
  6. If someone were to sit in your weekly staff meeting or daily production review… if someone sat is on your crew’s daily tool-box talks or shift-handover meetings… if they were to observe your organization’s new employee orientation… what would they conclude is most important to your organization?
Interested in learning more?  Ready to leverage your ‘now what!?’ moment?  We’re ready to help.  About the author: Andy Erickson is a founder and principal consultant at Humanus Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in people-centric leadership. He can be reached at