I have to admit that I wouldn’t immediately see myself as a leader, or someone in the position to inspire others.
But outside of the day job, I am the Chair of the Civilian Defence Disability Network and have realised that everyone can be a leader, regardless of grade or position. It’s about the behaviours we demonstrate and the relationships we form with others.
Despite the fact that my particular disability (cerebral palsy) has got worse as I have got older, I have not let that stop me learning and communicating. I realised that leadership is about being passionate about making a difference and inspiring behavioural change. You need to be a good listener, and to be prepared to communicate honestly and empathetically. I am always looking to increase my own knowledge and the understanding of others.
I’ve always believed that you should ‘do as you would be done by’. In other words, treat people as you would like to be treated yourself. Everyone deserves to feel respected, valued and to be able to make a valid contribution to the workplace and wider society without facing barriers. As leaders in the Civil Service, there is much we can do to make sure that is the case.
As a group, the Defence Disability Network works together to make sure line managers and disabled staff know where to go for further advice. The aim is to make us a more disability-confident employer and ensure the well-being of disabled staff. Ultimately, we want to create an inclusive workplace where everyone can be themselves, regardless of who they are.
It has been a privilege to work with disabled colleagues and hear their experiences, and, when necessary, to intervene and successfully address any problems they might experience in the workplace. This can involve influencing others and offering constructive challenge, so requires strong leadership skills.
MOD is a great and varied organisation to work for and has presented me with lots of opportunities, from provision of reasonable workplace adjustments to learning and development choices. All of my job roles within the Navy, the Army and Defence Science & Technology Laboratory have offered career interest; and I am continually learning.