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A True Trailblazer

On Sept. 18, 2020 we lost a true Trailblazer, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when she lost her battle with cancer. Justice Ginsburg was smart, courageous, determined, hardworking, and an advocate for women. She faced discrimination at every stage of her career as one of the few women who attended Harvard Law School and then Columbia in the 1950’s. She was also a mother, wife, friend, teacher, and native New Yorker.

Can you even image what it must have been like attending Harvard Law School when a majority of men did not think of women as equals? Ruth must have been fierce and determined to succeed.

When I deliver change management training programs, I refer to The Cowboy Model to describe different types of people. The Cowboy Model includes Trailblazers, Settlers, Stay at Home types and Saboteurs.

The Trailblazer type thrives on change. A Trailblazer has lots of courage and confidence and is willing to go where no one has been before. The Trailblazer takes risks and isn’t interested in having a map. They create their own path. Trailblazers go full speed ahead and solve problems as they occur. They are often innovative, full of passion, and love imagining a better future. If a Trailblazer encounters a raging river up ahead, he or she will decide what to do when he/she gets there. The Trailblazer won’t worry about crossing a river before the trip. There are a few Trailblazers in organizations. Often, a leader is a Trailblazer type. The attitude is I’ll figure it out when it happens. Justice Ginsburg clearly created her own path and fortunately many women followed in her footsteps. According to recent data, women slightly outnumber men in law school.

The Settler type likes company and is a bit more cautious than the Trailblazer. They go along with the group as long as they have their questions answered. They are positive and willing to go along with the change. They want to have supplies and resources before the change occurs. Settlers want maps, plans and insight about the future state. There are usually many settlers in organizations. Settlers are good at executing plans. The Settler type will ask other co-workers if they are attending a company event before making the decision to go or not to go. The Settler does not want to be alone with no one to talk to. The Trailblazer type will just go and enjoy or leave.

The Stay at Home type wants to be left alone. They have worked long and hard to build their log cabin. They will wish others well, but they do not want to change. They are resistant to change and willing to take their chances doing things the way they have always been done. These are not bad people; they are just not change adept. They do not want to take the new journey. The Stay at Home type might be counting the days, minutes and hours till retirement. They might also be in denial about the change.

The last type is the Saboteur. The Saboteurs are dangerous. They will undermine the change and spread negative information about the change. Saboteurs can suck the energy out of us! When going through change, we need co-workers to lift us up not put us down. Unfortunately, there are saboteurs in every organization.

Learning about Justice Ginsburg and following her actions and her career has been a delight, she will also be a true hero to me.



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