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Monday, March 7, 2022

Be a Soothsaying Leader

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Let’s face it: The world of business has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated trends that were already emerging before the outbreak. From increasing globalization to the surge in hybrid and remote work environments, leaders find themselves in vastly altered circumstances than those which characterized the modern workplace only a decade ago.

Indeed, while change may be inevitable in the contemporary business world, that does not mean it has to be disruptive. Under the right leadership, change can be a catalyst for growth, evolution, and innovation. And that’s why, now more than ever, it helps to be a soothsaying leader.

What is a Soothsaying Leader?

You may not yet have heard of “soothsaying” leadership, but odds are that in these volatile times you’ve encountered the need for exactly the kind of foresight that such a leadership style requires. A soothsaying leader doesn’t seek to avoid or mitigate the impacts of change, whether within the organization or in the marketplace.

Rather, such a leader prioritizes change, particularly the effort to identify and prepare for internal and external trends before they can become disruptive or damaging to the organization. Thus, the soothsayer leader fosters a proactive rather than reactive corporate culture, privileging agility and responsiveness over the status quo.

In closely monitoring emerging trends, these future-oriented leaders aren’t just protecting their companies from being caught flatfooted in periods of significant change, but they’re also staking an important leadership position within their industry. And there’s perhaps no better way than this to keep the organization healthy and its competitive positioning strong.

Mind the Data

If you want to be an effective soothsayer for your business, then the first thing you’re going to need to do is to focus on the data. To detect and understand relevant changes in the market, the industry, or your company, you must know how to collect, analyze, and translate salient data into actionable business strategies.

For example, data analytics can alert you to significant shifts in consumer demand. This can enable you to begin modifying both your product portfolio and your brand strategy to align with and even to lead and direct this evolving trend. For example, today’s consumers are far more socially conscious than in decades past, and organizations that were able to establish themselves effectively as leaders in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) or the green/sustainability movements early on now have a definitive advantage in the marketplace.

The Role of Inclusivity

In addition to harnessing the power of data analytics to support a forward-thinking leadership model, one of the most important things you can do to be a soothsayer for your team is to emphasize workplace inclusivity.

Groupthink, after all, is a persistent threat in any team environment, but that risk increases as diversity decreases. If you want to be a future-focused, agile, and proactive leader, then you need to build an inclusive and diverse team that provides an array of perspectives and experiences.

Consider, for example, the issue of gender identity and its implications for marketing. It is only in recent years that the concept of gender fluidity and non-binary persons has arrived at the front of social discourse and consciousness, perpetuating the marginalization that too many in the LGBTQ+ community have traditionally felt. Today, however, binary gender can no longer be considered an unquestionable given, whether in marketing, business, or leadership

Soothsaying leaders, in other words, will understand and act upon the implications of these important social, cultural, and marketplace innovations. Future-oriented business leaders in the fashion industry, for instance, may lead product design and creative marketing teams in innovating and promoting gender-fluid apparel for a rapidly changing market.

Teambuilding as a Soothsayer

Any experienced leader knows that there’s a profound distinction between work groups and cohesive teams. Leaders also know, though, that bridging this gap, transforming groups into teams, is no mean feat.

Soothsaying leaders, however, have a unique advantage in achieving this pivotal goal because their forward-thinking attributes can be leveraged to unite individual group members in a shared vision of success. This is an outstanding way to ensure that a disparate group gels into a highly-functioning team than by ensuring that your employees are all pulling in the same direction, all striving toward a shared target of what tomorrow will, should, and must look like.

The Takeaway

The world of business today is one marked by uncertainty, one deploy inflected with the unexpected. But that does not mean that change has to be either disruptive or damaging. Indeed, soothsaying leaders can transform inevitable market and workplace evolutions into opportunities for innovation and improvement. All that is required is the cultivation of a future-oriented leadership style that privileges both data and diversity. In this way, the soothsaying leader leverages the power of numbers and the perspectives of their people to help define what tomorrow will look like. Armed with such knowledge, the forward-focused leader builds a business strategy that is proactive, agile, and innovative, all key ingredients for long-term success.

About the Author: Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and business topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

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