Our culture is laced with references to both going backward and forward in time.
“Monday-morning quarterbacking,” and “hindsight is 20/20,” are two examples of spending time looking backward. Similarly, “looking into my crystal ball,” or “just around the corner” are idiomatic phrases of focusing on looking forward in time.
While we can’t physically go backward or forward in time, we spend of good amount of time and energy – in our personal, work, and civic lives – in both places. And, if not overdone, there is value in looking backward to assess and looking forward to plan.
There is, though, a leadership approach to looking backward and forward that is most healthy, most compelling and admirable, and most effective. When we look backward in order to critique our own behavior and actions (to learn from, better ourselves, and make amends as appropriate) and look forward in order to plan how we can better include, engage, and help others, we build teams characterized by trust, integrity, results, and care.
Reversing this approach (i.e., focusing on the behavior and actions of others when we look backward while focusing on our own egotistical goals when we look forward), creates a leadership style characterized by blame, arrogance, and self-centeredness.