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Lara

Lara

Visual artist

What makes a good leader?

A good - or in other words a positive leader - is someone who is able to put others needs on a equal footing, with everyone else in the group/society. They need excellent foresight, impeccable negotiation skills, an ability to see many conflicting view points from all sides...and most helpful all, a sense of humor.

In terms of the global media spotlight I see Angelina Jolie demonstrating unparalleled qualities of leadership. In her arena of Hollywood super-star goddess she really leads the way, and generally only by example and action. She harnesses the media circus that surrounds her for good. She is without a peer, in her generation, everything she does has considered significance, and personal political meaning behind it.

Each adopted child, she has rescued from personal tragedy, but not only that -with Maddox and Pax, they are from countries with a terrible legacy/relationship with America, Vietnam and Cambodia. It feels like a choice of peace as well as commitment as a mother.

You can offer no greater gift to a homeless child -than that of yourself. And unlike Madonna, no controversy follows Angelina, because she is absolutely politically aware. The real deal.

When choosing a place to give birth to her first biological child in Africa - quietly snubbing Hollywood opulence to again make good use of the worlds media by taking them to a country that needed and benefited from a visit by the global media spotlight.

She is an alchemist, turning the dross of negative things in her life (obsessive media attention) into gold (highlighting the beauty and plight of a country like Namibia)

I also love her statements about loving her adopted children , even more than her biological children. It is a bold statement to make to the world.

Finally, her and Brads greatest leadership action was to move to New Orleans and make it one of their permanent bases after Katrina.

Is leadership different for disabled people?

I would hope that a disabled leader in whatever field would be extra talented and competent in their vision of how to be inclusive and therefore to be articulate in tolerance of many kinds and to want to continue to strive for acceptance of difference.

However, this has not really been the case with women and women’s rights... over a hundred years ago, suffragettes died getting the vote for women... but in contemporary culture many women in the workplace have simply become ´honorary men’ with no commitment, passion or knowledge of why it is still important to keep working for real equality. For example, after a woman has carried a baby for 9 months inside her body, gone through labour (never a more apt term was chosen) why does society - including many women - accept that a new mother should only be given 3 months paid leave with that baby..? and that she should have to pay huge amounts to hand that baby over to a total stranger? To me, that is a form of child and mother abuse if its not exactly what the mother really wants for her self.

In leadership it would from my point of view be very disappointing if Disabled leaders became, in the course of training and quotas, the same as non-disabled leaders. I would like a disabled leader to come from a different space - equal but different. To lead from a kinder, more considerate space is the hope of our world becoming kinder… to all. In my experience many disabled people are a joy to be with because we are masters in communication, kindness and considering others. This is the gold of our sometimes very tough experiences. It is why we can make ideal leaders.

Are their barriers to leadership for disabled people that non-disabled people don´t experience?

Yes, there are many barriers, some of which I will list, but some barriers are common to all people, like how well you were parented or not... as a child. Did you have self-esteem encouraged...or not?

Barriers to leadership faced by disabled people:

• (for the older generations especially) lack of good education. however all students in the UK now suffer equally from our soul-less secondary education.

• lack of confidence

• communication and mobility barriers.

• not knowing how or where you could offer leadership

• not being taken seriously

• impairment based charities functioning from charity model and not offering to powershare.

• poverty

• systems of inflexible benefits, that keep people under the parapet.

• people who don’t want to draw attention to themselves and rock unfair systems.