Having recently facilitated a manufacturing roundtable at the Vistage Executive Summit and now participated in the BDO Wisconsin Family Business Ambassador Session, everyone agrees – times they are a changing.

Yes, there have always been business owners who have fostered growth through thoughtful planning sessions while cultivating customers and employee contributions. I hear more and more who are doing so, and the people who are left riding the waves of good fortune and past reputation are in decline.

The issue is not that business conditions are dramatically changing, but that actions are required to address today’s realities.

Leadership as the top executive is still happening in uncertain times and is more important than ever. While we’ve always experienced recessions or economic swings, the pandemic is new with a bonus of social unrest. On top of that, private and public companies are wrestling with the demands of return to work, dramatic increases in commodity prices, and the newest challenge of supply chain shortages.

These are major disruptions I’m hearing from companies and advisors alike. What’s an owner or CEO to do?

First, recognize that your employees, suppliers and customers see you as the company leader. While you’re also wearing other hats others see you as the leader at the top, and hope you accept that role.

Next, do the analysis of the forces impacting your company. Prioritize and develop plans to learn more and address the major forces knocking on your door.  You need to speak to and learn from your major stakeholders:  customers, suppliers, partners, advisors and yes, employees.

Following that, develop or revise your strategic plan. It doesn’t matter if it’s one or thirty pages. What matters is it describes your purpose, values, priorities; and most of all, has the full backing of your management team.  It must be a plan created and aligned among the team

Finally, find a small tribe where you can share your concerns and fears openly and in confidence. Leadership and planning for the future is not meant to be done alone. For some, you simply bring your trusted advisors together quarterly. For others, you have a trusted group of peers that meet regularly. Still others have chosen to join a peer group under Vistage. These 12 – 16 members meet regularly, share insights and challenges, and most importantly, help shape an action plan to address the challenge, with the full support of others in the room.  Support goes hand in hand with accountability.

My tribe is a group of eight chairs from Vistage who serve me in the same way that a member of my Vistage group does. In addition, while I am not a member of my group, I know I can count on the members of my Chief Executive Roundtable to listen and support my challenges and plans as well.  Just because I am a Chair doesn’t mean I have it all figured out.

Change is happening. Leadership of others is increasingly difficult. Who do you go to or need in your corner?


Dan Loichinger is the founder and Chief Leadership Officer of Loichinger Advantage LLC. I coach CEO’s, business owners, and executive leaders who aspire to go from good to GREAT, who want to improve their organizational leadership as means to additional growth and alignment, and are open to constructive feedback.

My 30+ years of leadership development and OD consulting fuels my belief that working with second stage and middle-market companies is the greatest opportunity for growth, jobs and economic prosperity, while lighting the path to sustainable growth and competitive advantage.

That experience has given me the ability to develop processes to help leaders, along with a reputation for developing ‘Proven Leadership Results’ with executives and leadership teams who intentionally aim at targeted results, organizational alignment and shared ownership.