1 February 2017

Leading from exclusion


Photo credit: Anthony Glossop

What a warm welcome awaited us at Leeds University Business School, part of the 2017 University of the Year. Despite bleak weather an enthusiastic large group of students, staff and alumni gathered to hear the talk and engage with the ideas presented, as part of the Corporate Wisdom series.

I looked at these questions:
- When other exclude us and create barriers, what is the impact and how can we use the experience positively to develop self-awareness and resilience?
-If we are motivated by doing work which is led by our values, how can we develop this into a successful social enterprise?

I talked about my experience of being a musician who becomes deaf and having two careers stalled by decisions others took. I looked at the way our emotional range can expand if we choose to focus not to accept other's definitions of us but to value and use fully all our experience and skills.

One of my key messages was that there is no business which is separate from people, their behaviour and feelings and any business which ignores this will not thrive long term.

I quoted Prof Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum who recently observed that leaders 'need sensitivity and empathy to serve as their radar system and values and vision as their compass.' The way we define 'success' is changing. Our impact on others is something we need to embrace. We need to know ourselves deeply and value ourselves and others if we are to genuinely progress.

Leeds University gave us a brilliant welcome and the conversations and questions following the talk were vibrant and insightful. In the current broader context of a challenging and uncertain environment, I left Leeds feeling that if these people were to be our future leaders, I could be optimistic for the future.

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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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