27 May 2021

A proper leader?


Jane is a speaker at Birmingham University Business School’s event on 2 June 2021 ‘Disability and leadership: new challenges – new possibilities’ which is being co-hosted by Result CIC allies - National Association of Disabled Staff Networks in Higher Education (NADSN) and PurpleSpace. We look forward to a cracking debate!

When you see the two words ‘disability’ and ‘leadership’ next to each other, what do you think?

Go on, be honest.

Are these words which we often put together? Or do you find them awkward partners?

If we think of a leader who has some connection to ‘disability’, do we picture them as ‘only’ leading other disabled people and issues related to disability? If so, why? And if we see leaders who have disabilities as not quite ‘proper’ leaders, or captains of industry, why is this? Well, now there is an opportunity to discuss these questions.

Birmingham University Business school’s Work Inclusivity Research Centre (WIRC – a nifty acronym if ever we saw one) has set up an event to examine this issue. Big shifts in working practices during the health pandemic have had a mixed impact on disabled workers and their development. Assumptions about leadership which can often be based on a non-disabled norm need to be challenged.

But this is not about extending the joys of seniority to disabled people stranded on society’s periphery. No. Given a strong voice and encouragement to use it, disabled people can discover – and communicate that – they bring more to the party than their non-disabled peers. Leadership skills such as problem-solving, team-working and authenticity can come naturally to people who may have faced dramatic changes and challenges in their life due to their disability. We just have to stop trying to fit into job titles and descriptions which lack the imagination to see this and be able to assert our viewpoint and use all of our abilities fully.

With her experience as an ‘insider-outsider’ who has worked in mainstream leadership roles as a deaf professional, then been excluded from them, Jane will take a frank and provocative look at the topic. She will take about her vision of disability leadership becoming more boring. In her view there needs to be less drama about skilled human beings who happen to have disabilities, and more ‘boredom’ and focus on learning from each other as equals. Once every fifth colleague at work is disabled, we may even find the phrase ‘disability leadership’ redundant.

Here’s hoping!

Interested? Why not register for the event here?

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We are Result CIC, a community interest company. We work with people who feel marginalised or excluded to become more confident about their abilities and to fulfill their potential. We also work with Directors, Managers and CEOs who need support to bring about positive change in terms of diversity and inclusion in their organisations. We each have personal experience of the issues affecting the people we work to support, including disability, immigration, mental health and sexuality. We have also worked in senior positions in industry and government.

Our vision is a society where every individual can achieve their potential, feel fulfilled and make a valuable contribution. 

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