When You Don’t Know What To Do As A Leader

Leadership is not black and white. At some point in your life or career, you are going to be presented with a circumstance or situation that will shake you. It will be difficult and you may not know what to do.

This happened to me in a recent Leadership Looks Like Podcast interview with Patti Domingo. In the interview, she shared her intimate story of how she survived an abusive relationship and what she did to escape.

Sitting across from her and listening to her story was a challenge for me. However, I can recall numerous times throughout my career when I was in a similar situation. The information may not have been the same, but I was presented with a circumstance that I wasn’t quite sure how to address.

It’s helpful to listen to Patti’s story for a number of reasons. First, if you are in an abusive situation or are abusing someone and may not be aware, the hope is that something in this interview stands out for you so that you have a clearer picture of what you may need to do in order to get help.

It’s ok that you don’t know what to do

Secondly, as leaders, it’s ok to not always know what to do. Don’t pretend that you have the answers. Instead, keep an open mind and listen in a non-judgmental way. Let the person know that you’re not sure what to do, but you’re there to support them. You may be able to reach out to your support system for more information or help the person connect with a resource that can help them.


When listening to Patti’s story, think about what you might do in a similar situation. Run through the conversation in your mind and practice your reaction. As a leader, chances are you’ll be faced with a similar situation and by practicing, you’ll be better prepared if a similar circumstance arrives. The more you’re able to practice, the more comfortable you’ll be.

Related: The Danger of Sexism and Gender Stereotypes in Leadership