Empathetic Leadership in STEM

Tino MantellaBy Tino Mantella

TLG President & CEO

This article is adapted from Tino’s For What It’s Worth Video Series

What’s the correlation between empathy, design thinking, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)? This came to life for me when we invited 18 ninth graders from Innovation Academy, which is a new school in Fulton County, to come to our office and discuss empathetic leadership.



I was impressed that the school was open to thinking about these kids that were in their second week of school, that they would be as a base foundation talking about empathy. As I thought about it, and as these wonderful students came to the office, they were really interested as a baseline to learn about how to listen, communicate, care about people, and focus on the whole. It was very impressive, but I think the school, again, it was really important for them to say, “you know, we can talk a lot about STEM over their four years of high school and beyond, but they need to have as a baseline, as a foundation, empathy.”


Focusing on the Whole

That’s probably changed at least from a standpoint of what it was in 2000 or 2004, when I took the job at the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), because most people were focused on the product. People in the area of technology, for example, were not asked as much to focus on the whole. They were more focused on their particular area. But today that’s all changed.

I was so impressed with these bright young ladies who came to our office and really talked about, and understood humility, empathetic leadership, and focusing on the whole. One of the things I said to them is, “you know, you’re in a position where you’re trying to design something and you really need to understand what the people are interested in, what that outcome’s going to be. And that requires listening, and certainly requires empathy.”

So, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this for what it’s worth!



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