The topic of disability within leadership is one I speak very passionately about, perhaps because I have first-hand experience some of the challenges disabled workers face. I recently came across this article written by a CEO (who has remained anonymous) and it really struck a chord with me on just how far away we are from a society whereby we can speak very openly about our own disabilities without fear of rejection albeit a perceived one.
The important point here, however, is that perception isn’t just felt by this one CEO it is likely others feel it too, and so we must ask ourselves why can’t leaders use their own personal experience of these conditions as a positive without the fear of the negative impact? I know that my ADHD can bring many positive benefits to any organisation, one of the things that stick out in my mind was a quote I read once that said ‘ADHD makes me think of more ideas and plans in the mornings than most people think about all week.’ For me, that is something I can relate to entirely, and part of what really drives my creativity in my current role - which I am most proud of.
However, alongside this, we must consider the difficulties and for me, these are what sometimes I feel less inclined to want to shout from the rooftops – why? Because I have what is called the ‘invisible’ disability and this CEO is right, there are few who understand the condition still.
We are still a long way off from making our society truly diverse & inclusive, and even though there are many organisations proactively making the changes there can be no doubt, we have a long way to go where ‘perception’ is concerned.
“I am not ashamed of my ADHD. The difficulty is that few people really understand the condition. By telling them, I risk losing the confidence of the board, devaluing our stock price, and alienating myself from my employees. Until the wider world understands and appreciates the amazing, wonderful, energizing benefits that ADHD brings to the workplace, I have to keep the secret source of my CEO super-powers to myself.”