Turn From the Past

It is vital for transformational leaders to have a clear vision of the future state of the organization they lead (Northouse, 2012, p. 197), and this vision of the future must be attractive, realistic and believable (Bennis, 1985, p.89). This necessitates the transformational leader to not dwell on the past, whether a positive or negative past, but to intentionally envision the future. Particularly when it comes to the development and growth of the organization, leadership must prepare to handle future customers, cultural shifts, and the growing global village. This is why leaders must let go of those things that have happened, and embrace the things that are going to happen.

A core skill for a transformational leader is to see the future and clearly communicate a future reality to members of the organization. It is through vision casting of the future that current culture is created (Gabris, 2007, p.112) by shaping an intangible future reality into tangible goals and objectives for members of the organization to carry out. (Gabris, 2007, p. 113) As members focus on reaching goals and objectives focused on a future reality, their organizational focus turns toward the horizon of the future rather than dwelling on the reality that has passed by. This shift in focus indirectly pulls the attention of members toward how they fit into the future reality of the organization and can act as a compelling reason to work hard for the desired future vision. (Northouse, 2012, p. 197)

There is a constant reality for everyone: the future is coming, and the past has gone by. There are times when the past should be recognized, honored, and even memorialized, but it should not take away from building for the future. A misguided focus on what is behind will create an inability to properly prepare and welcome the future the organization will exist within.


Gabris, G. T., & Ihrke, D. M. (2007). No End to Hierarchy Does Rank Make a Difference in Perceptions of Leadership Credibility? Administration & Society, 39(1), 107–123. doi:10.1177/0095399706296616

Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

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