Educate to Innovate – calling all Lionesses!

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For my annual December article, I always write something for the ladies. Whilst I use the analogy of the male lion for my EnQ work, it’s a leadership analogy and not a gender one. From early in my professional career, I chose to ignore gender and I still do.

However, there is no doubt that as women in business we play a slightly different role at times and in many cases, a powerful one. I believe that one of the most powerful roles that we play in business leadership, is as mothers. Behind many a successful entrepreneur stands a woman who has taught them to innovate. Our next generation is being told that they have a choice to become innovative or unemployed. This is a wake up call – innovative thinking is going to be needed by everyone, not just the business leaders.

An example of a woman who played a vital role in the development of innovation in her child, is Richard’s Branson’s mother. He writes about the influence of his mother in his books. Another shining example of an innovation inspiring matriarch is Trevor Noah’s mother. (For anyone who isn’t sure of who Trevor Noah is see the link below).


In his new book, Born a Crime, Trevor tells a story that I would like to share. His family was really poor and his mother struggled to provide food for her family but she found a way to send her son to a very good school in a wealthier area. Trevor noticed that most of his school friends bought their lunch from the tuck shop each day. He also noticed that the lines were very long and that everyone was aware that each minute spent standing in these lines was time wasted from their precious break time. The problem for many of the boys was also that it simply wasn’t “cool” to run to get there any faster. Trevor saw the gap. He needed food, he could run and he didn’t need to be cool. He started taking orders from his classmates, in exchange for a percentage of their lunch money from which he bought his own food and kept the extra pocket money. From his very good school education, Trevor learned to innovate and he makes the point himself that this learning was his most valuable experience from his education. From the subjects he was taught mostly to regurgitate accurately at exam time, he has retained very little valuable knowledge, and he is not alone.

  In his TedTalk, “Prepare our kids for life” which can be viewed at Ted Dintersmith delivers a convincing argument for the necessity of changing our education systems, to consciously and intentionally convert what “students are learning to be good at”. He points to an alarming amount of school time, being currently invested in teaching skills that are no longer relevant to today’s world.

In the film, “Most Likely to Succeed” Dintersmith sets out to demonstrate what teachers and students, alike, are capable of, when placed into an environment that educates according to:

  • their strengths,
  • connecting inner purpose,
  • embracing failure whilst learning what works, and
  • ultimately delivering a learning path for innovation, creativity, and resilience.

The results are astounding and these are exactly the traits that our future business leaders need to learn to get really good at. This learning process can start with us, as mothers. We can teach our children these traits and continue to foster them through their education system, which in many cases will not adapt quickly enough for the next generations.

For those who have not been placed onto this learning path during their school years, but would like to learn to innovate, we have developed a workshop that does exactly this, called Path of the Lion. It’s a crash course, but it’s a highly effective one that connects all of the above dots.