“This is great”, I thought as I scanned my psychometric report. Most of the leadership team were very linear thinkers, but I was different on so many scales. I felt a warm glow inside, different is valuable in this day and age after all, right? Little did I know my boss had a different way of seeing it, I guess that is one of the benefits of neurodiversity after all. When she asked me to meet and discuss the report, I felt confident, believing she was going to celebrate these traits. It turned out she was not so happy that I scored high on scales such as intuition, thinking and idea generation. “Huh”, it didn’t make any sense, the job role called for these traits in abundance. Heck, the company even talks about these values on the website and in the organizational literature.
The meeting turned out to be very different than I had expected. I was told “within HR guidelines” that I needed to be more like the others in the leadership team. I left soon afterward.
Unfortunately, I have seen this time and time again with changemakers in organizations. The scenario goes something like this:
There is a changing of the guard, a new CEO. Perhaps it is a shift in the economic environment. Perhaps the company missed expected earnings this quarter or perhaps the world experienced a pandemic.
Suddenly, the changemakers feel a tug at their reins. Next, they are asked to give a presentation to spell out exactly what it is they do. This is always difficult because it involves long-term projects that often take years to show a tangible return on investment. Your new boss is keen to show she is tough, so you are an easy target. She talks to HR. HR suggests a psychometric test and perhaps some coaching to influence the changemaker to leave of their own accord.
The stage is set and the changemaker finds themselves well on their way down the Green Mile (The Green Mile is the greenish pathway from the cells to the execution room, in Stephen King’s magnificent novel and movie.)
While it is natural for organizational neurotypicals to misunderstand changemakers, it is very hard to stomach the incongruity, the mismatch between the espoused values of the organization those values in practice. Innovation and change need friends in high places, without the air cover of leadership in organizations those people who can unlock future growth in organizations will leave to find authenticity and fulfillment somewhere else.
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