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What’s Next: A Cornerstone of Leadership Development

Thoughts on effective leadership

What's NewLeadership development can be a transformative experience when you put the right questions on the table and use them to drive the process. As an Executive Coach, a question I often use with my Leadership Development clients is: What’s next? For the person on the receiving end, this simple question is usually seen as a curveball they didn’t expect and its effect is extremely powerful. It makes them pause and think about something that is not on their radar. As the coach, I  ask the question without any expectation to what the client’s answer will be. I wait for them to put things into focus.  That’s when new opportunities arise in their path to leadership development.


So, when is the best time to ask “What’s next”? Sometimes it’s right after a leader has overcome a tough situation and is ready to turn the page. Other times, I use it when I sense that they are stuck in a status quo that doesn’t make the most of their talent. Case in point. This week I was doing a leadership development session with the head of a financial services firm.  He was bogged down with personnel issues and arranging for an upcoming strategic planning meeting with the firm’s partners.  He was busy delivering the expectations of his role and it was clear to me that it was exhausting his energy. So I said, “Let’s shift gears for a minute; what’s next for you?” He sat back in his chair, smiled and his face lit up.  I know he is a natural visionary, who gets bored with the day-to-day and is most alive when creating and focusing on new frontiers for his firm. His response reflected that: He was thrilled to spend some time using his visionary talent and then brought the renewed energy back to the staff and planning issues we had been discussing. The digression created by “what’s next” was short, yet transformed his approach to tasks he considered mundane. Like my client, I also deliver many routine responsibilities on the job and at home, yet I know I am more engaged and energized when I have something new on my horizon.  So, when I have a natural pause in my action, I ask myself the power question. It is a bit of self-coaching!  I always smile at the question and love to consider what could be next for me.


How about you?  What’s next?  Spend some time thinking about it when you have a moment.  Do it even if you are so busy that you can’t afford the time to stop. That might actually be the best time to ask yourself, What’s Next? Thinking about your own Leadership Development? Contact me if you’d like to know more about my coaching process.

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