I have been pondering the subject of leadership and role models, and the part they play in innovation and encouraging learning and development.
Of all the potential links between role models and innovation, the one that resonates most strongly for me is inspiration; something or someone that stimulates the mind and can foster feelings of confidence and encouragement. All of which help provide a fertile ground for innovation.
Sharing stories, explaining experiences and interacting with others provide the insights, spark the ideas and bring the human dimension needed to fuel creativity and the desire to make a difference. Both necessary to bring about innovation. This is particularly important in STEM. Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths are part of our lives every day but not everyone appreciates or understands their contribution to society and the economy.
Therefore, we need role models who help raise awareness, showcase innovation in action and present STEM in a real world context. And the best people to do this? STEM professionals and their real life experiences.
In The Spotlight. Ready Or Not!
Like most people, scientists and engineers don’t wake up in the morning and declare, “Today, I am going to be a role model”. It is a status bestowed upon us by others who see us as a positive example to be emulated. This means it can happen at any time with any person. Therefore, as STEM professionals and leaders we need to recognise the influence our behaviours and values have on others. As well as embracing the fact that we have the chance to inspire those around us.
A great example comes from one of my clients; a scientist and director in the environmental sector. During our work together she learnt she was viewed as a role model by other in the company who were pleased to see a woman on the Board.
She told me… ”When I learnt I was viewed as a role model it was an amazing revelation to me, and made me even more determined to communicate successfully and be a positive example”.
A Stereotype-free Zone
Finally, there is an assumption that role models are people older and more experienced than us. This is not necessarily the case. Inspiration doesn’t have such a narrow outlook. Personally, I continue to be inspired by the young people who I meet through working with educational charity SATRO. Their ideas and fresh perspectives on the world add a new dimension to my own view; something I cannot achieve alone. Plus meeting them makes me strive to be even better myself. If by chance they see me as an example, I certainly don’t want to let them down!
Regardless of age, background, experience and aspirations, we all have the ability to inspire others to be their best, to innovate and to make a difference. It’s a gift and it’s powerful. How are you going to share your gift today?