Are your leaders embracing neurodiversity for optimal effectiveness?

The discussion of neurodiversity seems to be increasingly prevalent in today’s society.

At NEP we are coming across people who have recently been diagnosed with ADHD and they feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. And we come across plenty of others who are seemingly craving a diagnosis of ADHD, almost as a means to validate why they want to work differently and they feel a diagnosis is almost required as an explanation for their leaders and co-workers.

For these people, this whole situation is draining a lot more cognitive energy than it should be.

So what actually is neurodiversity?

The term “neurodiversity” refers to the concept that people learn, communicate and interact with the world around them in different ways. This results in people having different strengths and different ways of operating to achieve outcomes.

Unfortunately society often associates neurodiversity solely with diagnosed conditions such as autism, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, among others.

This limited perspective can perpetuate stigma, suggesting these people are somehow deficient. However, technically aren’t we all neurodiverse? This should be celebrated rather than stigmatised!

A better approach

In our work with clients we have been saying for years “no two brains are the same”. Therefore even two people with exactly the same job should go about it in completely different ways.

Leadership plays a crucial role in fostering an environment where neurodiversity should be embraced. In fact I would love to remove the work neurotypical from the English language. Aargh. Any leader who treats all brains the same needs some help with their leadership skills!

By recognising that every individual possesses unique strengths and approaches to tasks, leaders can unlock the full potential of their teams. The “one size fits all” mentality just doesn’t cut it.

For years, at NEP we have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of embracing the fact that all brains are different, and that’s a great thing for business success.

What are some of the basic ways we normalise neurodiversity at NEP?

People with ADHD often say that they are grateful for their diagnosis. Often they say they are so pleased they have been given the “justification” for their short attention span. At NEP we’ve been coaching leaders and teams that every attention span is different, and how to work with it instead of against it.

They feel that their diagnosis validates why that they can’t hyperfocus all day. At NEP we’ve been coaching leaders and teams on the basis that no-one can hyperfocus all day.

Leaders tell us that they feel that they are better at hyperfocusing when working on things they really enjoy. Again, at NEP, this is most people, which is why we’ve been helping leaders to tap into strengths and magnify super powers for years.

And many feel justified that they aren’t great at functioning in the morning like “most people”. Research is now leaning towards at least 5 different types of biorhythms, or chronotypes, and there will probably be many more to come in future. So again, this is the case for so many people.

Plenty of brains are like this and people shouldn’t feel like they need a diagnosis so that their ways of working are to be justified or tolerated. People should feel like they are being embraced for however they get great results!

Instead of people feeling like they desperately need a diagnosis to justify why they work differently, how about we up the leadership game? That way leaders are equipped with the skills to get the best out of people as individuals and when working together as a team to get great results.

Leaders please recognise this:

Different people will have different attention spans, different strengths, different times of the day in which they can hyper-focus and other times when they can’t, and the list goes on of their differences.

That’s what keeps leadership interesting, and the reason why you can’t just give someone a title of leader and expect them to know how to lead effectively.

If leaders are not taught how to embrace neurodiversity, the workplace is going to be full of people beating themselves up (and draining valuable energy credits) as they try to fit in with others.

Imagine if we normalised that no one can focus for 8 hours a day, and normalised different attention spans, normalised different strengths and zones of genius and so much more…oh wait, that’s what NEP has been helping leaders and teams do for years.

I look forward to a day where we obliterate the word neuroptypical.

I have a strong dislike for the word neurotypical. We are all neurodiverse and that’s a great thing. Leaders who continue to treat every brain the same won’t stand a chance at leading great outcomes.

So yes leadership skills need to level up, but when leaders know how to optimise cognitive energy for individuals and for their teams…well that’s where magic happens.

For more information on how to optimise the effectiveness of your team – why not book a performance call?