Future, Present, Past – Three views of a leader

Losers-live-in-the-past_-Winners-learn-from-the-past-and-enjoy-working-in-the-present-toward-the-future_It appears as if the order of the words in the title are backwards – Future, Present, Past. But when it comes to leadership this is the correct order. Let me tell you why I say focus first the future, then the present, then the past.

When you are leading a team the first question they will have is, “If we follow you where will be going?”  Your team views the future possibilities with you as their leader.

The second question they have is “Now that we are following you do I like where we are going?” Your team views the impact of you as their leader in the present.

Their last question is “Now that we have followed you, do I like where I ended up?” Your team views the past and what they learned that helped them become the leader they are today.

Future Think of being a new leader on an existing team or leading a new team as a job interview.  Your new team already has expectations of what they want in a leader. Each team member will have their own particular requirements specific to their circumstances, but in the end they all want to be successful.   How are you going to do that?

The first thing you do when you start leading a team is to share stories about your past experience and success in accomplishing similar goals in similar situations.  This is so the team can be comforted that you fit their requirements of a leader – you have the experience to lead them to future success.

 “The past is where you learned the lesson, the future is where you apply the lesson”

Present Now that your new team trusts that you can lead them to future success, they need to see it in action in the present.  There are two ways that you will serve your team:

You first help your team succeed by demonstrating how to accomplish each goal; you are their model for success. Then you serve them by providing your guidance, teaching, and resources so they can accomplish the goals on their own.

“The future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.”

Past This last view of a leader comes when your team members are all successful leaders on their own.  They can look back with gratitude at all you have poured into them.  But the view of the past is only for a moment as they now prepare for their own team’s views of them  – future, present and past.

“Losers live in the past, Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present towards the future.” – Denis Waitley


2 Responses to Future, Present, Past – Three views of a leader
  1. Zach Slade


    Especially like the “ENJOY working In the present” idea. Leaders learn from mistakes and have game plans in the future. However, many don’t always enjoy everything that the current scenario brings (opportunities, etc). When we enjoy & appreciate we preform the best! At least I know that I do…



  2. Denis G. McLaughlin

    Great point Zach. Wherever you are is an opportunity to succeed or to learn how to succeed.