“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
~Harold R. McAlindon

Sometimes the hardest, and most exciting, part of leadership is blazing new paths and forging new ways. While it can sometimes seem, and be, easier to simply follow what others have done before you, charting a whole new road is much more inspiring.

To truly lead you need to be willing to “go where no man has gone before.” To navigate new routes. To try new things. To innovate and sometimes improvise. Because, as they say, “if you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” And leadership is about strengthening what is and knowing what’s to come…and walking the untested journey when necessary.

You also need to leave a trail – to leave “markers” along the way – so that others can follow you. Because it’s generally not enough if you try new things on your own, you need your team or organization (or family, if that’s whom you’re leading) to be able to follow in your footsteps and take the new path.

But how do you know when it’s “right” to stay on the path in front of you, and when it’s “right” (or “righter”) to venture out to someplace new and uncharted? Unfortunately I’ve found that there is no set answer for this question – and it’s a good, important question. In order to know, or at least best guess, you need to have:

  • A sense of when and how to trust your instincts.
  • A strong team and great backup in case things don’t go as well as you hope they do.
  • Done your research and know your marketplace and your strengths and development areas (your own and your team’s and your organization’s).

In other words, you need to have done your homework – both internally and externally – and covered your bases.

But true leadership is about forging a new path and finding new ways. That’s what excites so many of us, and that’s what excites the people behind you to keep moving forward on your trail.

How do you go where there is no path?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in “going where no man has gone before,” contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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