Greg Pilewski | October 2014

STEAM Leadership: Tell a Story to Inspire Your Staff to Innovate with “Lion Lights”

Inspire And Teach; Tell A Story

Communicating and expressing ideas to convey your STEAM vision, direction, message, or insight are all part of your job as an effective STEAM leader.  Public speaking to others in meaningful ways, whether that is your leadership team, your staff, or your community, can motivate others to the next level of performance.  Motivation is a key ingredient and a key part of employee commitment in sustaining any high performing organization.

Therefore, what story are you telling?

I was recently reading an article by Chris Anderson entitled: How to Give a Killer Presentation in the Harvard Business Review.  If you don’t know who Chris Anderson is you might recognize him from some of this popular work as the author of Makers: The New Industrial Revolution and curator of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences.  As I was reading Anderson’s article, I came across an inspiring story of a young boy from Nairobi, Kenya that I wanted to pass along who illustrates the essence of creativity, innovative thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and humanity.

As the story goes….Anderson and his colleagues met a 12-year old boy named Richard Turere while traveling abroad a few years ago. Richard’s family raised livestock near a national park and significant problems they faced was in protecting their animals from lion lights.  The boy noticed that placing lamps in a field at night did not deter the lions, but walking with a torch through the fields did manage to keep the lions away.  Richard was curious as a boy and loved to tinker.  He used to take thinks apart like this parents’ radio and teach himself about electronics and how to put things back together.

The amazing part of the story is that this young man devised a system of lights that would turn on and off using a car battery, solar panels, and parts from a motorcycle to create the sense of movement.  His creative invention worked as the lion lights stopped attacking the family livestock.  With no surprise, villages around the area began installing what has come to be known as Richard Turere’s “lion lights”.

Check out the entire TED Talk about Richard Turere’s “Lion Lights”…truly an amazing inspiring story about innovation!

How can you use this story to inspire your staff to create and innovate?

What conditions, attitudes, and behaviors in your school or district contribute to or hinder creative and innovative thinking?

How does collaboration in your school or district extend the creative process?


About the Author

Greg is a former Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and has nearly twenty years of classroom, school-based and district-level leadership experience in five different public school systems. He has a passion for teaching and learning and a commitment to supporting school-level and system-level leaders with integrated and innovative resources. Not only is Greg an accomplished leader and speaker, he’s also an avid tinkerer in his workshop where he enjoys making projects around his historic home for his lovely wife and two Labrador retrievers. You can catch Greg’s insights right here each and every Thursday and contact him directly at: [email protected]