For business leaders spotting trends and knowing which ones will last can mean the difference between success and failure. In an ever-connected world, market trends in Asia, South Africa, or Europe can be just as crucial as trends in the U.S. However, an obsession with near-term results often creates blind spots to threats and opportunities. Leaders who can look to their industry’s immediate environment, as well as the broader world, are the ones who are able to spot developing trends and capitalize on them.
Seek to understand the root cause
It is predicted that in ten years, one-quarter of the Global Fortune 500 will be from China, so understanding how business functions in other countries is vital. As business relations continue to globalize, it’s important that leaders understand the political and social environment they are conducting business in.
The TRIUM Executive Global MBA program at the London School of Economics offers courses centered around conducting business in different countries. One course module focuses on deal-making in Asia; another on the rising business market in South Africa, which takes students to South Africa to better understand the risks and opportunities there.
The program challenges students to thoughtfully seek the root cause of issues and to understand the business climate of the locations they are doing business in. This kind of understanding is vital to spotting global trends, but global equity investor Vikram Mansharamani cautions not to become too narrowly focused and specialized.
Take a generalist’s view
When searching for trends, the usual response is to focus too narrowly or turn to specialists for help. Vikram argues that breadth is just as important as depth. In an interview with Tony D’Amelio, Vikram advises that we zoom out and take a broader more generalistic view when searching for trends: “I encourage, for instance, an economist, to read political information. I encourage those that are focused on politics to study sociology and perhaps education. Do that enough and you will arrive at some very interesting conclusions that conventional thinkers won’t see.”
While working as a global equities investor, Vikram says he spoke to many people other than just the business leaders of the countries he was investing in. He got feedback from government leaders, educators, journalists, and average citizens on the street. Vikram says looking at the bigger picture helped him develop a unique perspective and “identify opportunities and navigate through the crosscurrents in many risks that some of those emerging markets have.”
Connect the dots
Trendiness often makes real trends difficult to spot. But as you zoom out to a wider view and gain multiple viewpoints, your dots of information will begin to connect. Spotting a trend repeating across different areas—the media, universities, laboratories, the general public—means it’s quite possible there’s a real change manifesting.
Once you have identified trends, it’s time to act on them accordingly. Geoff Colvin, Senior Editor-at-large at Fortune, recognizes the political and economic uncertainty across the globe and offers four pieces of advice to leaders.
Stand up and be seen
“People need to see that you are active and engaged.” Geoff advises you let people see that you’re in the game, you’re working on the issues, and that you’re confident.
When it’s most difficult to make decisions is precisely when it’s most important to be decisive. Geoff tells leaders to explain to their team what they’re doing and why, and to explain that they’re adaptive: “If the world changes, then you’ll change what you are doing.”
“Explain to people exactly how you see the world,” says Geoff. Be very frank with them about the insights you have gained from identifying trends and connecting the dots.
Most importantly in uncertain times, Geoff advises that you give your team hope and reassurance by showing them the way forward: “That’s when followers decide to follow leaders.”
When spotting global business trends, it’s important for business leaders to use their knowledge of business to understand and anticipate global trends with steady reactions and not knee-jerk responses, which in the past have been the cause of political and business disasters. Following these trend spotting and leadership tips can help business executives identify and understand trends that will likely to emerge as real change and lead their team forward.
The content writers at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau are Experts on the Experts. They hold doctoral, masters, and bachelors’ degrees in business, writing, literature, and education. Their business thought pieces are published regularly in leading business publications. Working in close association with the top business, entrepreneur, and motivational speakers, BigSpeak content writers are at the forefront of industry trends and research.