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Zoe Stead

Zoe Stead

Extended Schools Development Officer

What makes a good leader?

I feel that a good leader needs to have empathy for those they are leading. They need to have passion and inspiration and vision, but more importantly they need to have the people skills to take people along with them on their journey.

Is leadership different for disabled people?

It makes a significant difference. As someone excluded from meetings because of my deafness, it is hard to take a lead, to listen to everyone, sum up comments and make strategic initiatives happen when you are desperately trying to follow a conversation! Being excluded and having to rely on people to adapt their own behaviour so that you can be included tends to put you in a subservient position rather than a leadership one.

Do you think there are barriers to leadership for disabled people that non-disabled people don’t face?

The barrier of having to change the way people see you and work with you. Other people have the capacity to change their behaviour to make their settings more inclusive - I don't have that capacity to change my disability. There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about how to treat a deaf person, and so often people concentrate on what I can't do and miss my potential, for leadership amongst other things.