My own experiences of exclusion and involvement throughout childhood made me aware of these issues in the team I led and meant that I worked hard to ensure everyone was listened to equally.
If you are disabled, you can be seen as 'other', relevant only to people 'of your own kind'. Disability is still seen as a weakness by society, an 'incapacity'. You're not supposed to be able to work, let alone lead!
Disability promotes the idea of being an antagonist rather than the protagonist. It makes me snipe from the outside rather than getting involved. It makes me a good critic and can see problems very clearly. It also makes me a good satirist.
There are societal barriers but the PM is disabled, and there have been other disabled leaders, so it is not impossible.
Both disabled people themselves and other people seem to find it difficult to believe that they could be a successful part of the mainstream. Having an impairment seems to locate you within a particular part of the cultural sector (access, diversity, disability arts), which it is hard to move beyond.
The business world is still not 100% ready to accept that disabled people can lead. It's important, therefore, that those of us who are or aspire to be leaders are willing to put our heads above the parapet and be seen.
Having an impairment from birth you are led to believe that your participation in life and the world is secondary to non-disabled people. You are expected only aspire to other peoples expectations of you or to overachieve performing ‘super crip’ feats…
Without accessible, practical and integrated working practices people with health issues or impairments can become exhausted, disorientated, depressed. It is hard to continue to be inspired and be innovative when constantly faced with the general daily battles of exclusion and ignorance in every day life.
Is leadership different for disabled people? It is within a disabling world. Experiences make us passionate about making changes and choices in a society that still revels in seeing and treating disabled people and disabled artists on a lesser plane than non disabled people.
I enjoy motivating deaf and disabled people. I want to encourage them to develop their skills in music, art, films, culture and many more. I like to see the deaf community get access to better and more opportunities.
Barriers to leadership are the very hurdles that flex the muscles towards becoming a leader. I have found greater potency in the stride of challenged leaders than that of those who are delivered the role through privilege or the effort of others.
As someone excluded from meetings because of my deafness, it is hard to take a lead, to listen to everyone, sum up comments and make strategic initiatives happen when you are desperately trying to follow a conversation!