Philie Group Blog

Develop Your Leaders, Work on the Business, and Stop Spinning Plates
By Mike Philie

Grooming leaders for your business isn’t talked about very much within small to medium sized organizations. Particularly from those companies that are driven by entrepreneurs. Yet, one of the biggest issues I hear from leaders and owners is that they feel they have to do everything themselves. They have no time to work on the business. I often hear that these other folks “are just not ready,” or that “it takes too much of my time to train them.” Both of these reasons may be true, but if you don’t tackle them at some point, nothing ever changes.


When my kids were young and began playing youth sports, I did what many parents do and signed up to be an assistant coach. I would show up at every practice, ready to go. I often stood by aimlessly while the head coach ran all the drills and did all the talking. In fact, there were three assistants and we all just stood and watched. We didn’t have any speaking parts in the play.


I remembered those days, when I became the head coach and decided to change the pattern. Before each practice I would send the practice plan to the assistants. I would outline what each of them were going to be responsible for during that practice session. Yes, that took more of my time to write down and share that information. However, the results paid for themselves over and over again. 


For each practice I would set the tone with the team and then we’d break up into smaller groups, each led by an assistant coach. The kids got a lot more individual attention and I was able to oversee the bigger picture of how we were developing as a team. I took this path because I didn’t enjoy my early coaching days as a bystander coach. As I took more coaching instructional classes, I learned that it’s what all good coaches do, and it’s also what all good business leaders do too.


It’s time to work at developing your coaching bench. If you have managers that are not as engaged as they could be, or you find yourself making all the decisions, maybe it’s time to share the game plan with the others. In your one on ones with each manager, let them know that you would like them to begin taking more of an active role. That doesn’t mean that they assume your position on day one. It means that you begin sharing the stage and let them speak and lead in the areas that they are responsible for.    


You may find that some of your managers are more ready than others to assume this responsibility. That may not mean the others are not qualified, it may just mean they need more guidance so that they are better prepared. You have several options when looking for help with this. The guidance can come from you, their peers, reading a book or participating in a program for emerging graphic arts leaders like the Graphic Communications Leadership Institute. Plenty of options to choose from.


Your commitment to developing the next leaders within your organization will be hard at first. But, the payback is that you’ll have a bench of qualified and motivated leaders to help run the business. You’ll then be left with more time to work on the business and maybe even retire from spinning plates.


If you have any comments or thoughts as to how you’ve approached these issues, please send me a note or include them below.


Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at, LinkedIn or email at


Originally published in Printing Impressions



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