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James Aldridge

James Aldridge

Artist and Consultant / Creative Ecology

What makes a good leader?

I would describe a good leader as someone who facilitates the development of others, supporting them to explore and develop their own ideas and strengths in ways appropriate to their needs.

Is leadership different for disabled people?

The experience of being treated differently because of an impairment, or of being the recipient of exclusive forms of education and training may lead to an individual feeling less than others, or a failure, rather than someone who values what they have to offer as an individual. It could also lead to a negative perception of leadership as authoritarian and judgmental.

However, if you are given the opportunity to move through such experiences and explore what you can offer as a unique individual, then you can become able to value difference, feel empathy for others, and use your own negative experiences to help recognise and understand the barriers that others may face.

This can contribute to a leadership style that is based on the recognition of each person as a equally creative individual, and a way of working that is inclusive and participant led, rather than authoritarian.

Do disabled people experience barriers to leadership that non disabled people don’t experience?

I believe that when people's access needs are not catered for that they can be disabled in terms of the opportunities for learning and self-expression that they are given, and of the dialogue with others that can be experienced.

Whether disabled people continue to be negatively affected by facing barriers to inclusion depends on whether they can find the opportunity to reflect on these experiences and learn from them, using that learning in their own development and informing their work with others.

I believe that to become a good leader, you need to be able to reflect on your experiences, both positive and negative, in ways that are useful to you and use the insight gained to inform your work with others.