Philie Group Blog

Leading Through Uncertainty
By Mike Philie

Leading through uncertain times can create challenges that no one has really prepared for. Deciding when to act when dealing with situational fatigue is difficult. Particularly while facing potential irreversible business trends. These times create an unprecedented need for rational thought and problem solving. There will be many unknowns as business tries to emerge from a health crisis and economic challenges. Your ability to gather the team and share your thoughts on how the business will thrive will be tested.

Challenges and Opportunities

The need to anticipate what’s next has never been more important. Capture the next new opportunity, or better yet, create it. Stay close to the front lines. Listen to your customers, your sales team, the customer service group, your suppliers and all those with an ear to the marketplace. Use that information to plan ahead using different scenarios and models. For many, the market conditions are not very clear.  Your planning horizon might only be three, six, or 12 months at a time. Plan, execute, and adapt.


With these uncertainties though, come opportunities. Don’t be tethered to your past practices. Don’t allow them to become a barrier to your transformation and your ability to innovate. In a world you’ve never seen before, just having an idea of what to do and when to do it may be enough to break away from your competitors.

Learning and New Skills

The business landscape has changed and may not revert back to the past for quite some time, if at all. If that’s the case, the concept of lifelong learning has never been more important.


Take stock of how you’ve adapted these past few months and apply it to all of your customer and employee interactions. Becoming more agile and not waiting for tomorrow for things to get better will soon become table stakes. The good sales reps have realized that past customer engagement and business development practices may soon be irrelevant. They are focused on being a resource in solving client problems and have shifted in how they sell — including how to create value and provide solid business cases through virtual meetings.

Employees and Culture

Employees (and leaders too) are battling fatigue. I hear it daily in my conversations with company owners and staff. Everyone has financial and health concerns. Families are worried about how to deal with schools, the elderly and day care.


Owners are concerned about the retention of a skilled workforce. Leaders are being asked “is there a plan, and will we make it?” As a leader, you need to create and share your path to tomorrow. The challenges you face head-on today will make you a better leader tomorrow. Your team will recognize and appreciate that this isn’t easy for you or anyone. Give them a reason to rally around your vision, break down any remaining silos and show them how to work together to make it through these times.


I welcome any thoughts or questions, please add them below or reach out to me directly.


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 counsel, 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


The blog originally published in Printing Impressions


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