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Allow your Disability to Make You a Better Leader

February 4, 2019


I just celebrated my 48th birthday. This is quite a milestone because being born with Cerebral Palsy the odds were not in my favor to reach this age, let alone a professional career in leading change and leading leaders.

Reflecting back on my career of all the late hours I would put in to prove to others and myself that I could make a huge impact. This helped me deliver products to market, gave me the opportunity to fail and grow and be an amazing individual contributor because I had enough energy to tackle everything that came my way. Now at 48, I do not have the energy I once had. The need to focus my energy on the right thing and not everything. Needing to put my trust in others to accomplish things.

Be Invisibly present

What Cerebral Palsy and age took from me to limit my impact as an individual contributor has enabled me to develop the traits I need to be a better leader.

Focus. To be selective on what I focus on, instead of focusing on everything.

Courage. To trust my team can solve problems without my direct involvement.

Openness. To be open about my weaknesses so they can supplement with their strength. This develops team openness where we can supplement each other’s weakness.

Respect. The respect that no one can do it all and respect people for their weakness as well as their strength.

Commitment. Commitment to each other to achieve things together.

Courage. The courage to either ask for help or to offer help. None of us are smarter or stronger than all of us.

Everyone has a disability, some are just more visible than others.

I would like to leave you with two things:

  1. Create a list of all your weaknesses that your people on your team can compensate for. This serves as a good starting point to release control and allow autonomy to happen.
  2. Learn to be invisibly present. Learn to support your team without needing to be a direct presence.

Every keystroke is precious so I will end here.

Lead how you would like to be led.

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