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Jo Paul

Jo Paul

Theatre designer and tutor

What makes a good leader?

A good leader is someone who is knowledgeable in their particular area, combined with passion, organisation and shrewdness, someone who is astute and cares a lot about the job in hand and the people who are involved in doing it, someone who people have confidence in. A good leader is very rare in my experience.

Is leadership different for disabled people?

I think disabled people have to work harder and fight louder and longer to gain the respect of others enough to be seen as a leader, sometimes it easier to keep your head down and do the work you enjoy quietly rather than confront the attitude of others, the ego of others and the disbelief others can have in you because of a multitude of assumptions made by society about disabled and deaf people. People are surprised by the amount of experience I have when it accidentally comes up in conversation, I never push it forward, I don’t think to, I think that people recognize it in me, but of course they very often don’t. They see a disabled woman 5 feet tall before they see or think anything else. I constantly forget I have to say it loud and proud how brilliant I am and I often find it hard to do.

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

There are barriers to leadership - some are within ourselves, a lack of experience, a lack conviction or self belief, right through to laziness and a need to be rescued and looked after! These barriers are a reflection of how we have experienced the world, how we have been treated, all the things we have gone through. What I do know is that these experiences can make one more passionate, more shrewd and astute and more caring about people. Born leaders (!), if we'd only believe in ourselves and pursue our dreams more defiantly!