Leadership: Building Future Fluency

As a leader, if you are not “selling” the future, you are most likely still “buying” the past…

One of the priorities for today’s modern leaders will be the necessity to create and build their capacity with fluency for the future.  Which has not been seen as such a demanding requirement for leaders or leadership in past times, but is quickly becoming a much more necessary and needed skill-set.

So, when considering future fluency, you could possibly visualize it like this…

Leadership of the past was more like an art museum.  You had time to wander at a more leisurely pace, spending time looking deeply at the pictures, taking in the nuances, considering, creating connections, building understanding.

Leadership of today is more like a fast play movie of that museum.  Hundreds of thousands of images flashing by at a quick and unremitting pace.  Yet, unlike a movie where the story is pieced together for you, you have to distinguish this barrage of images and piece together your own understanding, your own connections, your own meaning, your own story.

We all understand and acknowledge that change is difficult, but why would future fluency be necessary for today’s leaders?  

The future is coming at us in such quick explosive waves, that we spend most of our time in a reactive mode, reacting to change.  A constant scramble to keep up with the speed and the volatile nature and upheaval of change.

Whereas, modern day leaders, to be effective, need to embrace a more aggressive mental stance towards change that allows them to be more proactive in thought and action.  Today’s leaders need not only be prepared for the future coming at them, but to effectively and proactively assess the trends of where change is pushing us, as well as how that change will eventually affect us.

Which requires ahead of the curve and around the corner thinking and action, and why future fluency is so important for modern leaders.  

And to best represent this, we can begin by comparing the necessity of fluency for a reader and reading.  When fluency is lacking, reading is a struggle, it can be disjointed, cumbersome, and laborious.  In comparison, when a person can read quickly and accurately, they can turn their efforts and attention towards comprehension, making connections and meaning with the reading.

Which is the why behind building future fluency, rather than trying to spend inordinate amounts of time trying to decode the changes coming at them, leaders must be able to quickly read and ascertain the writing on the wall of what those changes mean and what will be required for them to effectively move forward supporting the organization and their people.  Just like a fluent reader, they can recognize the change for what it is and comprehend its overall meaning, simultaneously.

And for a reader to truly be fluent, it is not just recognizing words in isolation, it is being able to comprehend those words in a passage or text.  The same rings true with leaders and change.  It is not enough to recognize change in isolation, but how those changes will affect the organization and all within the organization.  Understanding how those changes work beyond their isolation, seeing connections and how they ripple out in a variety of different ways within the organization.

Which is why future fluency is so important for leaders, they have to be able to see the connections and ramifications of change in real time as well as down the road.

Which is why the following definition from NAEP on reading fluency, has real benefits for a leader, when seen through the lens of change and creating future fluency

As provided on the LearningRx website, “Reading fluency is defined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) as: the ease or ‘naturalness of reading, including how a reader (1) groups or phrases words as revealed through intonation, stress, and pauses; (2) adheres to the writer’s syntax; and (3) expresses oneself in feeling, anticipation, and characterization during oral reading.”

Or in future fluency leadership terms, this same definition can be seen through this lens…

“Future fluency can be seen as: the ease or “naturalness” of how a leader (1) realizes how change affects the organization, the impressions and influence it has, as well as the stresses and strains that it causes, and the need to determine the speed at which to move as an organization and as individuals; (2) future fluency is not just the organization and people within adjusting to the actions and reactions of the leader and leadership, but leaders and leadership adjusting to the needs of the organization and those within; (3) and how the leader expresses and creates an environment for change and moving forward in a positive and conducive manner that creates positive momentum.”

What thoughts or ideas would you add to building the future fluency of leaders and leadership?


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