What makes a good leader?
A good leader is someone that knows how to listen to people, someone who has experience in their field, experiences to share with others. They are professional in their work, respectable to people's needs and can be flexible when times are needed. They might be high achiebers in a chosen sport or academia, innovative and no less an wo/man than any other. a good leader knows how to follow, review and make decisions they stand firmly by. They have belief in what they are doing and can inspire others to join ranks and follow them.
In the political agenda, Nelson Mandela was/is a great leader, passionate about his beliefs for democracy and the abolishment of apartheid. He is adored by millions around the globe for his successes, he's inspired many people not to be afraid of the unknown or failure, to be learned, to question, to be honest. These qualities add to the aspects of good leadership.
In the performing arts, Jen Sealey - Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company has proven to be a force to reckon with, with her distinctive approach to making theatre more accessible to a wider audience by providing platforms for disabled people to develop their artistry within a professional context. Her global reputation for the quality of her company's work, is a clear indicator of leadership within a company that engages deaf and physically disabled adults.
Greenpeace - globally recognised for its contribution towards environmental issues, politically driven to make real changes happen on our planet, determined to have visibility and full media coverage at many of the scenes that demand action by the governing bodies.
Is leadership different for disabled people?
It shouldn't need to, but I think it could do in some cases, which depending on the severity of the condition is a factor that needs to be considered and managed by the individual. But generally I believe that disabled people have just as much to offer in the leadership stakes, not only within disability culture, being role models and hero's for disabled people, but also for non disabled people who are inspired by the achievements of their disabled contemporaries.
A person with an impairment probably works harder to achieve the recognition they deserve because of the way the environment contributes to their disablement. Things that are usually taken for granted for non disabled people are an extra challenge.
People have all sorts of personal experiences that they bring to a role, they are shaped by these and are sometimes defined by their past. In a broader context I believe that we learn from our experiences of exclusion and find ways to adapt to certain situations that are appropriate to the environment that we find ourselves in.
A healthy outlook on life, a positive nature and vision for the future are crucial to leadership success.
Do you think there are barriers to leadership for disabled people that non disabled people don’t face?
Yes of course, historically disabled people have seldom had a voice, have had little representation and have been undervalued for their life's experience.
There are still so many barriers to overcome within a culture that is educated (seemingly) about differences.
People do still stare, tease, harass, undermine, undervalue and disrespect disabled people...mainly because of their ignorance, lack of knowledge and a limited experience of working with, living with or knowing people with impairment.
This seems to be moving forward and changing for the better, but I still believe there is much need for improvement and although the gap is lessening, there still remains a sense of "ghetto".
There are disabled people who have clearly not been held back by these differences and have gone onto have full and meaningful lives, who have inspired many others to follow in their vision for a future of equality. I would have liked to see Alison [Lapper] remain on the plinth for much longer than she did.