Arun Wakhlu

Chief Mentor @ Pragati Leadership | Leadership Development

The 3rd of December is celebrated as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). 

On this day, I am proposing that we change the lens of looking at Persons With Disabilities (PWD) to ALL of us being Persons With Different Abilities (PWDA). Here is why I am saying this:

When you look at life as a whole, you see so much diversity. One look at the picture below will give you a feel of what I mean.

Diversity is nature’s Masterpiece!

All of us are unique, just like our fingerprints. We are all blessed with  DIFFERENT abilities.

Greatness Comes in Different Forms

The science of Neurodiversity recognizes and celebrates the diversity of human neurological differences. It suggests that neurological variations, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and others, should be seen as natural variations of the human genome rather than as disorders that need to be cured or fixed. The compassion of a child with Down syndrome and the healing gifts of someone on the autism spectrum highlight their unique abilities.

People With Different Abilities

Beethoven, the deaf composer; Helen Keller, the blind author and activist; Andrea Bocelli the blind tenor, musician, writer, and musical producer( whose angelic singing brought Roger Federer to tears recently), all prove that unique abilities can yield greatness. Dyslexia didn’t stop Richard Branson or Steve Jobs from becoming entrepreneurial legends. In India, we have legends like Sheetal Devi, the armless archer who brought home gold medals in archery for India, the legendary Sudha Chandran who dances beautifully with a prosthetic leg, Arunima Sinha who climbed Mount Everest even after one of her legs was amputated, and Girish Sharman who plays international level Badminton on just one leg!

What Leaders Can Do

So what can leaders in Organisations do to foster a culture of true inclusion where ALL are seen as People With Different Abilities (PWDA)

  1. Start by seeing all Persons as PWDA (Persons With Different Abilities): Recognize and appreciate the unique abilities and talents of every individual, regardless of their background, experiences, or neurodiversity.
  2.  Focus on How Smart People Are, Not How They Are Smart: Assess intelligence in diverse ways and recognize that there are multiple forms of intelligence. Look for the strengths and capabilities each person brings to the team.
  3. Celebrate Neurodiversity and Differences: Embrace the concept of neurodiversity, understanding that it enriches your team with unique perspectives and talents. Celebrate differences as strengths, not weaknesses.
  4. Value the Diversity of Cultures, Races, and Backgrounds: Acknowledge the contribution of different cultures, races, and backgrounds to the workplace. See this diversity as an essential part of the tapestry of your organization.
  5. Leverage Superpowers and Strong Abilities: Encourage the reassignment of work based on individuals’ “superpowers” and strengths. Identify what makes each team member exceptional and harness their unique abilities to benefit the organization.

By following these simple tips, leaders can create an inclusive and empowering work environment that maximizes the potential of every team member, regardless of their background or abilities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *