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Jon Pratty

Jon Pratty

Journalist and digital publishing consultant

What makes a good leader?

Some things are tangible, and relate to the people around the leader. To the team, it's someone who knows you, trusts you and delegates tasks to you.

Someone who listens, someone who interacts, someone who gives you credit for your experience. Someone who knows how to intervene when it's really needed, but to do it tactfully. A good leader gives trust out, and validation too.

There's also some more personal and intangible things: a good leader needs to be creative, and to have really excellent judgement. It's important that a leader can take responsibility for the bad, as well as the good; but importantly, to think of the team when credit needs to be given.

And, of course, a good leader needs vision and the quality of that vision and the way it's put into action sets the tone of an organisation, or enterprise. The leader is the person who embodies (whatever the state of their human configuration) the core values of the organisation.

Is leadership different for disabled people?

I've thought about it a lot over the years and my own experience is that it is often the opinions of others that shape one's path to leadership success when health issues are present. You have to win over more them over with your professional ability first, any other issues have to be in the background.

I also think it's hard to separate personal psychologies from professional issues. As people with physical or mental challenges, we sometimes project around us some degree of anger or at the very least, some complex perspectives and prejuidices of our own. We certainly need a mindfulness to go forwards; to have a sense of where the barriers are.

Do disabled people experience barriers to leadership that non disabled people don't experience?

I neatly arrived at the bottom of the previous paragraph using the word 'barrier'. I think it's too blunt a term to be of much generic use.

Yes, there are factors that disabled people have experience of that may prevent our progress as leaders. There are equally many advantages disabled people may have (over the so-called 'able bodied') as a result of being how we are.

In my former workplace (I've just left the 24 Hour Museum after 7 1/2 years as the Editor, recently as Head of Content) I decided early on in 2001 that accessibility would be something our site would make a key policy strand. We always have benefitted as an organisation from that decision, and along the way my inside knowledge of the issues has brought challenge, change and fun as well. It's been a great boon for us as cultural creators.

I say - don't think about barriers, think about opportunities.