Often I am asked what started my lifelong focus on leadership. It’s an unlikely story.
As a teenager, I moved frequently and as a result I attended 5 secondary schools before graduating. I was shocked by the large population of these inner city secondary schools and even more dismayed at having to learn how to navigate them safely. My previous experience in elementary school was limited to small classroom sizes and personal relationships with every student and teacher. I realized I needed to learn new skills if I was going to navigate these new experiences somewhat successfully.
It struck me early on in my secondary school career that there were patterns in the way students behaved with one another to develop their leadership position within sub-groups, formal groups such as sports teams, and within the larger community. I became fascinated with how quickly leadership positions formed at the beginning of each year with the influx of new students and the loss of graduating students. Within days, a student body of 2000+ students seemed to establish leadership, fellowship, and outlier positions within sub-groups, groups, and the larger community. This hidden curriculum of establishing leaders, followers, and outliers played out time and again in all the secondary schools I attended and in all the social groups I belonged to both inside and outside of the education system. I observed this pattern in varying degrees within children’s relationships and amongst adult groups even under unique circumstances.
As a Black, Indigenous Pasifika, Autistic woman, my differences meant I stood out. I learned quickly that folding into a group gave me some measure of safety. I was successful in these environments partly due to my ability to see leadership patterns. I had not considered that the patterns themselves would inform the primary focus of my career and my life.
I went on to become an executive leadership coach in 1998 and was one of only a handful of leadership coaches in Canada when I began my career. I acquired a Masters Degree in Leadership & Training at Royal Roads University, and I am currently completing my doctoral degree in Leadership, Policy, & Governance at the University of Calgary. Coaching and training leaders in organizations comes from a well of knowledge, lived experiences, education, and passion.
My particular Autistic disposition allows me to engage intensely in subject matters I value and gives me the ability to see patterns in systems around me. For this I am grateful. Leadership in all its facets has always been and will arguably always be the nucleus of my intense focus.
Contact me if your organization or higher education institution requires leadership training or autism training or a bespoke combination of both. Please see my ‘What I Do’ page for examples of what I do.