This week is a very important topic and it's one that's near and dear to my heart. We're going to talk about neurodiversity and leadership.
It's something that I've been thinking a lot about, and I really wanted to have a nuanced conversation about it. So I reached out and brought on an expert to have this conversation with you. Kricket Harrison is going to help us to learn more about neurodiversity and leadership from multiple different perspectives.
The conversation was pretty wonderful and went longer than I usually do an episode, so I've broken it into two parts. Today we've got part one, where we talk about the terminology and context of neurodiversity and leadership as well as how leaders can support, mentor, encourage and coach neurodiverse folks.
Then come back on Thursday for Part 2, where we talk about who neurodiverse folks can be successful in leadership.
To get in touch with Kricket to speak, to emcee at your next conference or event, or to work with Kricket privately: Info@SMARTSuccessInc.com
Liz: Well, Hey there, friends and welcome back to this week's episode. Now this week is a very important topic. For all of us and, and it's one that's near and dear to my heart that I've been looking into a lot more over the last months and even a year. And what we're going to talk about is neurodiversity and leadership.
So neuro diversity and leadership. It's something that I've been thinking a lot about, and I really wanted to have a, a nuanced conversation about it. And what I did is I reached out and brought on an expert to have this conversation with you, with us to learn more about neuro diversity and leadership from multiple different perspectives.
And. The conversation was pretty wonderful and went, uh, went longer than I usually do an episode. So what I've done this week is I broken it into two parts. So today we've got part one. You want to hear part one of the conversation and then part two, we'll come up on Thursday. So if you're not already subscribed to this podcast, make sure you do that
now the person I brought on her name is Kricket Harrison. And what we're going to be talking about is first off, we're going to, going to talk about the terminologies and the context and just to better understand neuro-diversity where it fits in with leadership. I want to just make sure that we're all using the same.
Same words in the same way, and also just make sure that we're bringing, um, bringing everyone up to speed. So for those of you listening, you've probably been thinking about and learning about this already. And for many of us, we haven't been yet. So this is, I want to make sure that we're first starting from that same page and understanding what we mean when we say neuro-diversity.
And then we jump right into talking to and giving advice for, for leaders on how they can support node neuro-diversity. So here I'm talking, especially about positional leaders, those who have formal roles, you're a team lead a manager or a specially. If you're in senior leadership position in your organization, we're going to talk about how to best coach empower mentor support, folks who identify as neurodiverse.
That's a really important part of the conversation, right? And even for those of you who don't have a positional leadership position, Yet. Um, it is still an important conversation is still important to think about because you are still leader. You are still a leader, even if you're not in a supervisory or formal leadership position.
So that's what we start with this week, the context and how leaders can best support neuro-diversity in the workplace. Then part two, which again comes out on Thursday. Make sure you hit subscribe. In part to what we move on to talking about is, um, Krickets thoughts, tips, advice, counsel, her words of wisdom for folks who do identify as a neuro-diverse.
And especially because what I tell her, you'll hear me tell her, is that what I I've heard from my, from different people I've worked with from the community. Is that quite often folks who are neuro-diverse or identifies neuro-diverse, there's a bit of a hesitation to go for a leadership position. There's a, even if it's just my Newt, there's just enough of a hesitation. It creates just enough of a, almost like a speed bump that they may not apply, or they may not apply in.
Uh, with full vigor for leadership position out of concern that. That leadership is not really meant for someone with who, uh, who identifies as indoor diverse. So we have a really important conversation there around her thoughts and advice and just, um, Ideas for folks who identify as neurodiverse.
And for those of you who are listening, who do not identify as neurodiverse, it is still an important conversation to listen to, to help give that insight for you to understand your team members, your colleagues, your senior leaders, to understand better the neuro. They're neuro diversity. And. Part of the reason this is such an important conversation is because one of my core beliefs is that we need diversity in leadership.
We need to have diversity in the rooms where decisions are made. That is so critical. Okay. So, especially for those of you who, whether or not you identify as neuro-diverse, maybe your experiences be someone who's in a room where you're the only hall, you know, the only. Fill in the blank. In the room.
Versus we want rooms that are filled with diversity of thought we want. We don't want to have rooms where everyone looks, thinks, feels, sounds the same way. We want that diversity of thought. And what I, I would love to hear from you is how important is this topic to you? Well, what questions do you have around this topic? Around diversity and around inclusion, right? Inclusivity.
Is really important here, right? There's a, there's a, um, The tides changing a bit in the discussion around diversity were kind of almost pulling away from the idea of diversity and focusing more on inclusion and being in inclusivity, making sure we have all voices at the table that. That representation matters. Representation matters. So what questions do you have? What, how important is it to you? What would you love for me to talk about or bring on other guests experts about.
Please, let me know. It's so important to me to hear from you and no. The first to hear from you that this is important. And also then to hear from you, what about it is important? What questions you have, what conversations do you want to hear happening? Happen. So check the show notes. You'll have lots of ways to get in touch with me. Send me an email, send me a DM or reach out to me. However, is easiest.
And let me know what you would love to hear about, because this is an important conversation. Right. And for those of you, maybe some of you are in places where there is diversity in the room. And first that's amazing. Well done to your company, organization, industry, wherever you are. That's fantastic.
But that said with diversity of opinion and thought, and experience often comes conflict. Right. And con conflict can be a beautiful thing. Conflict can be an amazing thing. Productive conflict, right. If you have different opinions, you're going to have conflict. What we want is healthy, respectful conflict. You.
Like I said earlier, productive conflict. So if that's you, if you are in the, in that room where there's diversity of thought and either conflict is not happening as being, you know, kind of kept under the, under the covers or it's just unhappy that well, is that something you want me to bring people on or talk about is how to have that productive, healthy conflict?
Let me know. Please reach out. And like I said, this week, it is a special week. It's a two-parter. So make sure you're subscribed and hit the plus sign. Make sure you're subscribed. So you get both this part one and you get next week's part two as well. And with that. Enjoy the episode.
Well hey there, I'm Liz St. Jean and this is unruly leadership podcast where I help subject matter experts like you design a career on your terms. It's where strategy meets intuition to help you break the rules, ignore the rules and make your own damn rules. So let's break free from perfectionism, imposter thoughts, and that inner rule keeper, that's keeping you in your career comfort zone.
It's time to become unapologetically you and step into the life you were meant to live. We're going to talk presence, productivity career, and having it all. Or as my four-year-old would say - we're going to take over the world. So let's get to it.
Well, hello, there friends. Today. Have a really special topic and a really special guest here with us. So we are going to be talking about neurodiversity in leadership. And my guest here is Kricket Harrison. So Kricket is a performance and communication expert, and she works a lot with businesses growing their bottom line faster through speaking and through presentations.
So she has a very dynamic style. She's very interactive with presentations and looking at the human side of business. Now Kricket has a degree in psychology and organizational communication from the university of Texas. And she's a certified coach and has over 19 years of of experience as a business owner and has worked with over 400 entrepreneurs on speaking and messaging in the past four years.
Now her specialty area is around executive presence, leadership, communication, neurodiversity in the workplace. Employee engagement and high performing teams. So y'all know that she's gonna be perfect for this podcast. And then what's really, really special is that she has also been the vice president of an ADHD coaching association.
So she speaks on this and she is well versed in this from multiple different angles in terms of, um, neurodiversity and leadership. And. Really helping, like I was saying earlier with that executive presidents and with leadership communication. So thank you Kricket so much for being here with us today.
Kricket: Thanks for having me, Liz. It's so fun that we finally get to do this.
Liz: Yes. Well, cuz you and I have been, I mean, we've been messaging about this for, it's been a, a long time in the making. I was saying just before I hit record. We met in the Peloton moms and leadership group. Right, right. Yeah. So this is a group, there is a, an episode, a couple episodes ago where I talked to Melissa, the group leader and, Kricket and I are in that group. It's a wonderful group. So just a shout out to Melissa. Thank you, Melissa, for running a wonderful group
and thank you Kricket for being here. We wanted to kick it off with a bit of a conversation about, about neurodiversity in general, talking a little bit about the, the terminology and the context, because I mean, for some people listening, they may, they may already be following this very closely. And for a lot of people, these there's maybe new terms to them, these terms. So why don't we start off with, neurodiversity. So Kricket, what does that you know mean to you? What would you like to share with people about the term.
Kricket: So the term is, is I'd say relatively new it's, it's interesting. It's been out for a while, but it's become more mainstream and more accepted with the way the world is changing these days.
It really is just, you know, we used to talk about diversity of thought. We'd say when you've got D E and I there's all the categories that we're aware of, but it's like, where's the diversity of thought. We want people on our teams, on our leadership, on our boards who have different thoughts, bring different ideas to the table, so that we're not the same, you know, because your field saying you keep doing and hiring the same and you wonder why your getting anywhere new.
So it became, it came from kind of diversity of thought is where it started. And a lot of us were speaking and presenting on this topic, but just not calling it anything, we were just calling. Communication skills or styles or understanding people it's often paired with emotional intelligence. How do you understand people and read the room and know what's happening?
But the neurodiversity came out as more and more people started a getting access. To, uh, medical help or online help that helps them function or figure out why things are either easy or difficult for them or their children got diagnosed. You see, the more that we have celebrities come out and say, Hey, uh, I'm autistic, or my child is autistic, or this happened, or the number of celebrities, celebrities that have ADHD, uh, the huge speculation around Steve jobs when he was alive around, you know, his brilliance and yet his challenges, right.
and rather than trying to talk about all the little different pieces, it was just put in the idea of it's a different form of diversity and it's diversity of the mind. So it, they went with neuro cuz it's a neurological diversity. Uh, all it really means, and this is what I just want people to really, really understand.
It does not mean problem or deficit. And I think people often don't get that. I sometimes get asked, well, you know, how do I treat someone? If, if they're neurodiverse, I'm like, well, ask. Like have a conversation. They're people too. There's different levels of, of mental capacity. We all know that we wish there wasn't, but that's in the world.
There is a lot of your neurodiverse people. You're not even gonna know some, you might, some, you might not. , but I would caution anyone from ever making, uh, judgements because we don't know what's going on in someone's world, but it's, it's just really, when you hear people talking about neurodiversity, it's saying, Hey, we wanna bring in people who might think and do things differently.
Oftentimes they're your big risk takers? They're your high energetic thinkers. A lot of times they're verbal processors. Um, although I have known a few accountants who fit that bill, uh, because their focus and love is numbers. Uh, so, Hey, if you've got somebody that can hyper focus on your numbers, that's a good thing.
There are places you want people that like a lot of structure and organization they're perfect in your world. And a lot of places it's just putting them in the right place. So neurodiversity is really just in my world. It's, it's an overarching label for ADHD, dyslexia, bipolar, autism, any of those things Asperger's.
you know, I like to simplify it on. It's just people who think and do things differently. Okay.
Liz: And that actually relates to the, the other term that people may or may not be familiar with as, or two terms, right. That kind of go together like neuro divergent and neurotypical. We kind of hear that used for, for the individuals as like, if someone identifies as a, not neuro divergent, whether it's because they identify or I've been diagnosed with, uh, autism ADHD or something else.
And then what is neurotypical and how is that term
Kricket: used? So, well, let me, let me back up to the neuro divergent for just a minute. Um, it, it's a really interesting phenomena again with where we are in the world right now, because I will have someone come up to me quite often go, oh my gosh, I'm so D before they go, oh my gosh, I'm so neuro divergent.
Right. But in the workplace, it's because we're trying to be so correct. And I wanna be mindful that we don't wanna make this in actually become a bigger stigma instead of a smaller. Nobody should be embarrassed or ashamed parents. If you have children like this, your children, they don't need to announce it to the world, but they don't hide it either because you don't want them to hide who they are.
So I think as we move forward in this new place, we are, we wanna be mindful of that. So, People now say it because they think it's the correct thing to say, but it's not what they would say in a small private conversation. It's not what they would say to their friends. Um, but, but to your point, it just is the individual neurotypical
I hate to say this because I'm not sure it exists anymore, but it just kind of means normal, whatever normal is. Right. You follow the traditional thought patterns. Uh, you're not as, maybe out of the box, you don't ping pong all over the place and then pull the ideas together. You might be more of a linear thinker.
Um, it's so interesting. And I kind of use the air quotes for normal because several years ago, I don't know how many years now when they. Still working on the DSM five, uh, which is, is what they used for diagnostics, um, in the states. I'm I'm, I dunno if it's everywhere, but, uh, there was a comment made that with the new regulations and guidelines on what would diagnose, should somebody seek a diagnosis or medication that they are so specific.
Now, these things have existed forever. They are not. We're just now talking about them. So now they're so detailed that the comment was made that only one in 10 people would be normal, which then flips everything. Right? Because now the one normal person is actually the outlier. and, uh, so again, there, there are all these terms and it's so important to be aware of them for the people that do use them.
And I think it's equally important to learn, to use the, uh, terms, if somebody's autistic, to be able to say, Hey, well, you know, tell me, I know so many people are different. What is this like for you? How does, how does it work for you? What makes you help to work best? Like we can't be afraid of the actual terms.
You don't go to a doctor's office and get diagnosed as neuro dive. You might going forward. I honestly don't know, but you know, when somebody is going through this and they know they're wicked smart, and most of a lot of my background really is predominantly with, uh, learning disorders and adults and ADHD in the workplace.
Um, borders lines on the edge of, of the, you know, the spectrum, the autistic, and then going down to Asperger's. But a lot of these people are so brilliant. Their vision is so far ahead. They can see it. They can see the end result. They can see years ahead. The problem is they kind of have a Ferrari brain and a Ford model T processing so they can never get, they can never catch up.
They're not even hardly closing the gap. and then what happens is they get depressed about never getting where they think they should be, because then they think they're not good enough, which makes them think they're not worthy. And the more they think that they get anxious about the next task they do.
So we always say, or I say, there's something called comorbidities. I call 'em coexisting conditions. Just cuz I don't, again like that word. And I always say, you know, ADHD is two best friends are anxiety and depression. And they like to always go to the party together. They're never alone. So you're always going through with someone, um, the spectrum, so to speak, but it's not just the spectrum of a diagnosis, it's the spectrum of emotions and how things are showing up.
And, and, you know, is somebody, is the anxiety, the prominent issue, or is ADHD the prominent issue and where are they overlap? um, so it's, I, I would encourage everybody to get comfortable with, with all the terminal. You don't have to know you're not diagnosing, you know, it's really just about think of it.
If it was someone in your family, what are the questions you would ask that are appropriate? Of course, uh, And, and be comfortable. So, so yes, it's great to understand neurotypical neuro divergent. Those are when, when people are looking for, you know, de and I, now part of that includes neurodiversity, meaning they wanna understand how people think and work differently and invite that into the workspace more so instead of shutting them down and at the same time, we have got to learn that, uh, to have those conversations.
Liz: Yeah, that's a great segue. In fact, so, uh, for those of you listening, Rick and I were talking about before we hit record was about, um, for those of you, for the listeners, for you, that there's a good chance. You, you kind of fall into, you know, one, one or two, one of two buckets. So, and one, one of the buckets are the people who maybe.
Either identify as neurotypical, or at least don't identify as neuro divergent you're leaders. And you want to, you want to be inclusive. You want that diversity of, of thought, and you're wondering, okay, how can I be that great coach, that great mentor, that great leader to people who are, um, have that diversity of thought.
So while we pick up there, so Kirk and I have a conversation for those folks, and then we're also gonna have a conversation for the folks who are leaders or aspiring leaders who do identify as neuro divergent. So we'll, we'll have that conversation as well. So let's start there, Kricket with the, the folks who want to be great leaders, you know, I'll just open it, make it open, you know, what would, what would you tell them?
Kricket: What would you wanna say to them? Yeah, so it's so interesting cuz I, this conversation comes up a lot and, and you know, with everything we talk about, there's big picture and then there's depending on how your, the listener's area of expertise works. Right. So we have to kind of put that out there. The bottom line comes down to get to know people.
What makes them work what's best for them. If you're hiring a creative for your marketing department and you put them in a cube, doesn't matter whether they identify as neuro divergent or not it's are you cutting off the source that makes them creative or the reason you hired them? And it's under, it's asking those questions.
It's again, it's it's, we've got to get more comfortable with what used to be uncomfortable. It's saying, Hey. You know, I notice when, when we had this meeting, um, you know, you seemed confused about something or, um, You were doodling or whatever, um, and saying, you know, does that just help you focus or did you have a question or something or, or is everything okay because, you know, we can't make the assumption and I wanna give a really specific example.
We cannot, first of all, we can't ask and we know that I hope everybody knows that we cannot ask and you really don't wanna make decisions based on assumptions without a conversation. So then it becomes, okay, how do we have that conversation? And you have to have that conversation like you would with anybody of, Hey, what's working, what's not working.
If you use the word, what it's really, really good. And I, it sounds so simple, but if I ask you why or how your brain goes into about me, and I must have the answer to solve this problem, which is going to make someone defensive automatically, we have to remember neuro is brain, right? We all have 'em so we all go through this.
So even the people that say, oh, I don't identify this. We've had those days. Oh my gosh. We have all had those days. We had those two years. Did we? Not where, uh, so many of our moms working from home with kids and the house and the spouse home, and maybe a pet, or maybe you were a caregiver for an adult parent.
You felt like you were crazy, you couldn't get anything done. You were unorganized all the little typical traits that if I asked you the questions you might have said yes to that does not mean that you are necessarily neurodiverse. It just means maybe you had a bad day or you haven't had enough sleep.
I had an interaction with an adult. This was many years ago now, and it was one of those places. Again. Something was off and you just knew something was off the behavior was so off. And in this situation, it was a classroom situation with my child. And, you know, we all love our children, but I'm not one that's gonna assume my child is a Saint.
Um, so I was really trying to understand kind of from her point of view and what I know about her personality versus what I was going on in the classroom until I happened to witness it one time and I'm. I don't know what it is. It's not my place to diagnose. But if you were to look at some type of, of, of Connor's rating scale or something where you, where it did ask you, you know, a lot of the questions trying to figure out what was going on with this person, you'd be like, yeah, she's irritable and this and this and this.
Well, it turns out she was, um, having trouble conceiving. So she was on IV treatments. So I think the biggest challenge as leaders that we have is not to make assumptions. It's how do we ask the questions and still being respectful and not invade somebody's medical privacy or privacy in general. Um, but it might be, you know, Hey Liz, I noticed that you, you know, seemed a little off lately.
Um, We were, this was a little, we were a little short with the team or we were, you know, we're trying to encourage growth and this was this, you know, is there anything going on that we need to know better, that we can support you with? We, as leaders can only do what we can do, we cannot again, make assumptions.
We cannot, you know, and we have to think about what if that was me. Um, I spent four years as a caregiver for my mother. I know there were days. I probably was way too short with people. I know there's probably days that I thought I made sense that I didn't make sense, uh, due to lack of sleep or stress or any of those things that can affect us.
So we have to really, really get to know people and create a safe environment, such that maybe an employee, a staff, in this case, it was a teacher can come up and say, Hey, you know, I want you to know, um, we're going through these treatments and it's really important to us. And you know, if something changes or there's some effects may anyway, I'll let you know, or you let me know, like we have to have our employees or our immediate team.
And then the teams beneath them. Feel confident and safe and have trust, which again, when we're kind of working from home, everybody loves it. But statistics show that trust is going down and that's gonna become a bigger issue. We have to have those spaces to have those conversations and people, whether they're neuro divergent or not, everybody wants to be seen, heard, and valued.
So the conversation might be more specific questions for somebody. But you still need to treat people the. It might be a question of, Hey, um, and, and of course I'm using Liz Liz's name. So everybody think this is not necessarily about Liz. I'm just using her name. It might be something along the lines of, um, you know, Hey Liz, I notice it's really hard for you to sit still in the meetings.
It's kind of distracting to these two people. Um, if you want, you can stand up at the back of the room, if that helps you. Or, or, Hey, Liz, I know it's, um, it's hard for you and you're always rocking in your chair or whatever, and it's, it's hard for these other people. Um, what would be better for you? What would help you?
Um, and then, you know, it's learning how to say what would help it's that what I, I cannot stress enough how simple that is, uh, to make it about the issue and not the person
mm-hmm , um, it might be sometimes. Hey, I noticed, uh, we seem to have lost something in communication. You know, I send an email, I thought it was this, you know, did, was there something you misunderstood? How can I, and as a leader, I might say, how, how can I be more clear as a leader? I'm always gonna take it upon me the first or second time.
By the third time, we need to have a deeper conversation, but if I don't get the results I want. This person has not been around me long enough to really know my style and how I do things then somewhere I have miscommunicated, I have not been clear. I've made an assumption about something. And then that again is a conversation.
We have got some brilliantly smart people in the world that have created much of the technology that we use that would probably go nuts in a cubicle setting. Right. It doesn't mean they're not great employees and team teammates and that they don't further their company and their position. What it can mean is if they have to bounce or do something, or if they're what's my, this is my, you know, if they're doing this, I don't know.
You know, um, it, sometimes that they're not aware that actually helps a lot of people focus. So it helps people with anxiety have something to kind of latch onto, and it helps, uh, people with ADHD focus. And if we think about. As humans, we were never made to learn sitting still. So for them, that's just, and again, you'll see people rock you.
I encourage people all the time. Whenever they're getting a new office chair, make sure it moves so that you can move. Cuz you can be more productive as leaders. We want our teams more productive. What is it we can do for each individual. Now, does that mean you are gonna go out and buy a perfect office set up for each individual?
No, it does not. But little things affect people, uh, fluorescent light. Some of our people are highly sensitive to sounds or textures and fluorescent lighting. Many of them, other people won't notice at all, my highly sensitive people will hear that buzz all day long. So imagine if there's a little B in your, it affects your performance, it affects your product.
Right. It's really simple for them to go to their leader and the leader to agree and get maintenance over, to say, Hey, can we pop out the bulbs and the lights over their desk? And they just use a desk lamp or whatever. There are so many simple solutions. Now when we get into certain in industries like finance and legal, where certain things have to absolutely be done in a certain way.
Here's what I can tell you. If people only choose those careers, if they can do them, . I mean, nobody growing up that hated science and math and despised, it majored in science and math. They just don't. And even if they start that way, they end up going into consulting or they end up going in a different direction.
Um, we often see kind of neuro divergent, meaning I, I refer to it more as out of the box thinkers, different personalities, um, in the ADHD world, we see them in risk taking profess. So sometimes they're trial lawyers, sometimes they're ER, doctors, oftentimes they are CEOs. And I want you to think about that as leaders and especially if you're an aspiring leader, these people are the visionaries.
You know, Thomas Brown years ago. And I can't think of the exact title of the book, but it, it might have even been hunters and gatherers. And he talked about the, the divergent thinkers, the people who could think and see differently and figure out what's next and have that vision. Were the hunters. They were the ones who went out and made things happen and gathered the food and found the next place to go for a village so that they survived.
Whereas the gatherers and there's nothing wrong, both are 100% needed, or the ones who, who tended to the crops and tended to the families and grew the community. Both of those are needed in business. You need your visionary, your leaders, your sales, your outside sales team. But we all know we get nothing done without our operations.
Right. So you've gotta have both sides and you have to look for what is the skillset we hired somebody for because this day and age interviews are, uh, a pretty lengthy process. We see, even in the group we're in, we see time and time again, this is why I work for myself. Let's be real. uh, people, you know, going through, I've been through six rounds of interviews.
I'm like, oh my gosh, it's easier to get into Harvard right now. Right. And, and so make sure you're hiring for the right reason and for the right skill set and we know skills can be taught, but they can be kind of taught to a point. but at the same time, make sure you're not hiring from a skill set and then putting 'em in a situation where they can't use their talents.
Liz: All right. So that concludes part one of the conversation with Kricket. Like I said, make sure you're subscribed. So apple users click that little plus on the top right-hand corner of the screen. And come back on Thursday because we're coming back for a conversation again with Kricket to finish it off. And we're going to be talking, especially around folks who identify as neuro-diverse and what thoughts, opinions, advice, ideas Kricket has for anyone who wants to move into leadership and identifies as neurodiverse.
And like I said, whether or not you identify as neurodiverse, it's still an important conversation to come listen to. To get some insights around the folks that you are likely working with and working for and who are on your teams. So come back on Thursday. And I'll talk to you then. Bye. Bye.
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