Neurodiversity: Navigate How To Lead With Compassion And Success - Innolect, Inc.

Neurodiversity: Navigate How To Lead With Compassion And Success

“Acceptance is the key to unlocking the potential of every person.”
— Temple Grandin


How does your company embrace neurodiversity? With 1 in 7 adults considered to be neurodivergent, leaders need to understand that a percentage of their employees may experience ADHD, dyslexia, OCD, Tourette syndrome, epilepsy, be on the autism spectrum or possess some other neurodiversity.

A client recently reached out to explore ways we might support a leader who was having “unusual” challenges with his direct reports. As the situation was described, we wondered if the repetitive behaviors, discomfort in social situations, resistance to change or unusual nonverbal actions might be symptoms of neurodiversity. Later, we discovered that indeed the leader was neurodiverse, and the stress of a new merger was creating an uncomfortable environment for him to navigate.

When we “see” and experience differences, there is often confusion. In the book by Daniel Bowman, “Living on the Spectrum,” autistic himself, Bowman describes some of his wonderings about whether as an autistic person, “we’re being valued for our strengths and accommodated for our needs rather than excluded for perceived deficits…”

Rather than focusing on the challenges, it is important to acknowledge the benefits of employees who think and behave differently. Neurodiverse leaders most often:

  • Understand their unique strengths and weaknesses because they have experienced a lifetime of applying workarounds to navigate successfully
  • Offer new perspectives and ways of seeing the world
  • Develop skills to overcome obstacles they have faced
  • Focus on social justice for all related to rules of fairness
  • Challenge others to examine the status quo in new ways
  • Surface imaginative approaches that lead to greater creativity and innovation

We can all learn from differences. To create an inclusive workplace where all employees feel that they belong, it is important to gain insight into what neurodiversity is, how these differences are experienced and how neurodiverse employees can be most effective.

For more information for how to better understand and prepare for neurodiversity, consider the following checklist.


Kittie Watson, Ph.D.
Founder & Owner of Innolect, Inc.
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