Is Neurodiversity the New Powerhouse for Business?

I was sitting in a meeting doing some calculations and my client literally got up and started jumping around and moving his arm and legs saying ‘sorry I just need to move around a bit’. This was after a series of very quick, decisive and energetic conversations and a what seemed to be a lack of desire to focus on any one thing in particular for too long. As this type of behaviour can also be a sign of a stressed-out busy entrepreneur, I felt clarity in this regard was important.

So I looked up during my calculations and asked – do you have ADHD? He answered Yes

Now this is one of the many clients I have with ADHD/ADD, Bi-Polar, PTSD, Dyslexia and the list goes on and on. What I am finding is that these people always tend to have amazing abilities in one area or another – it’s sort of like having a super power. Though each one of them will tell you it comes at a cost. In the case of ADHD in particular that cost can be the ability to stay focused, which can then translate into an impressive level of decisiveness and ability to take action.

Now I am by no means a psychologist or a counsellor, however I am tasked at helping my clients to set, measure and achieve their business and personal objectives. So, in this light I seek to understand and then act. I find the best approach initially is to find out what works for them. In a business context I have found that often too little has been done to develop this understanding and enable their employees to utilise their ‘superpowers’. In fact, it may even have lead them to be perceived as underperforming or difficult to manage.

In a business context if you think of your employees like tools say a shovel, screwdriver and a spanner I find myself often going back and saying ‘you know how you wanted a shovel, well you actually have a full blow excavator over there and here is where you should put it to get the best return in your business. And no – don’t try and turn them into a spanner.’

So why does this happen?

The stigma around neurodiversity, mental illness is still strong and a lot of my client’s don’t offer this information up front. It’s not uncommon for me to be working with someone for months before they feel comfortable even raising it.

What can I do to harness their superpowers?

• Build trust by seeking to understand first and then act.

• Find out
  o  What they like doing
  o  What interests them
  o  Where they see themselves heading
  o  What works for them and what doesn’t

• Take a look at your organisation chart and succession plan to see where they fit now and into the future.

 Revisit your conversation in a couple of weeks’ time and don’t be surprised if they have reflected on your conversation and changed their mind. You will find the second time around they are much more committed to their response


  • – and in case you were wondering this part isn’t a neurodiversity thing, it’s a people thing.

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