In a recent podcast interview with Paddle.com, we discussed a topic that I’m personally very passionate about — shaping effective and ethical leadership within companies and organizations. 

While chatter about ethics may seem like a buzzword that corporate folks love to throw around, in actuality it’s always been a critical, core ingredient for building a sustainable, winning business that stands the test of time. 

Your leaders are like the captain and compass of your ship. They set the company’s culture, guide decision-making, and provide a roadmap to achieving those long-term goals. Get the right people with the right compass in leadership roles, and you’ve got yourself a thriving, innovation-driven environment that hits those financial targets and supports ethical practices.  

Unleashing innovation 

Think of your company culture like a garden. And in this garden, innovation is a prized flower. Now, you can’t just hope for occasional blooming, right? You need to foster an environment where employees consistently challenge the status quo, and where risk-taking is valued and failure is a lesson, not a defeat. How? By championing cross-departmental collaboration and creating an open forum for ideas – this is how we tap into that beautiful power of collective intelligence. 

Balancing act with financial targets 

But innovation can’t happen if you’re ignoring the financial health of your business. Leaders must show how innovation initiatives link back to business objectives and financial wellness. Maybe it’s about creating financial models that prefer long-term gains over quick, short-term profits, or investing in technologies that boost operational efficiency. Have you heard about balanced scorecards? They’re handy tools to measure performance across a variety of metrics, not just financial ones. 

Fostering open dialogue 

Remember, great leadership isn’t about being the only voice in the room or making all decisions single-handedly. Leaders should welcome feedback and opinions from all employees, no matter their role. Why not try regular town halls, open-door policies, or even anonymous feedback channels? When your team feels heard and valued, they are more likely to stay engaged, be productive, and show loyalty to your company. 

Championing diversity 

A diverse leadership team is like a Swiss Army knife – full of different tools and perspectives, ready to tackle any challenge that comes its way. This means hiring leaders from various backgrounds, industries, and disciplines, as well as promoting those hardworking internal candidates who’ve seen the ins and outs of different departments. Embracing diversity also means ensuring that every person at the table has a voice and is empowered to share their full self in the workplace. Diversity not only fuels creativity and innovation, but it also delivers bottom line results.  

Power to ethical individuals 

Finally, I can’t overstate the importance of ethics. It’s vital to make leadership roles enticing and reachable for individuals who show high ethical standards. How about redesigning recruitment and promotion processes to focus on ethical conduct? Or setting up mentoring programs to nurture ethical leaders from within your company? And don’t forget those clear codes of conduct that set the standards of behavior. Ultimately, one of the most powerful tools at your disposal is to make sure you reward and recognize ethical behavior and decision-making within your organization. And be sure to hold leaders accountable for their actions. 

Ready to take your business to the next level? Let’s do this! 

This content originally appeared on Paddle.com. Listen to the full version of my Protect the Hustle podcast. 

Did you know that up to 20% of the global population is neurodivergent? That means they perceive and interact with the world differently than the neurotypical majority, and have one or more neurological differences that may include ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and others. 

While many of these individuals face challenges when it comes to things like social interaction and organization, these obstacles are outweighed by the incredible strengths they bring to the table. When given the space and psychological safety to thrive, neurodivergent people can significantly enrich an organization’s capacity for innovation and problem solving and can help challenge the status quo. 

Based on feedback from a recent global survey of nearly 1,000 neurodivergent individuals, let’s explore the top five strengths of neurodivergent employees and how these strengths can help your business go further, faster: 

1. Creative, flexible, and outside-the-box thinking   

Neurodivergent employees are masters of creative and unconventional thinking. They excel at approaching problems from new perspectives and coming up with innovative solutions. As more conventional work becomes automated with the use of AI, the ability to innovate, think outside the box, and approach problems with entirely different frameworks will become significantly more valuable. 

2. Strong observational skills and attention to detail   

Leveraging their photographic memories, neurodivergent employees possess a remarkable ability to pay attention to the smallest of details. Their self-proclaimed perfectionism drives them to spot the smallest details that others might miss. This ability makes them particularly valuable in roles where accuracy is critical.  

3. Ability to stay focused for long periods of time   

Neurodivergent employees have an impressive capacity to maintain focus for long periods. Their hyperfocus and determination also means that they rarely give up on difficult tasks.  

4. Excellent ability to recognize patterns   

Neurodivergent employees have excellent pattern recognition skills. Their ability for spotting patterns and trends enhances operational processes and improves efficiency across various tasks. This strength proves particularly beneficial in roles that involve customer service and analytics.  

5. Excellent math skills   

Neurodivergent individuals often exhibit extraordinary math and logical reasoning skills.  According to Harvard Business Review’s Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage, neurodivergent individuals possess a unique ability to understand complex mathematics, identify obscure patterns in data, and memorize intricate details that others might miss. 

It’s time for the global workforce to recognize that neurodiversity is diversity. Neurodivergent employees can help organizations break through plateaus that have been plaguing their teams for months, years, or decades because they kept approaching the challenges with the same types of minds. Fresh ways of thinking are especially important during challenging economic times. 

In an ever-accelerating race for competitive advantage, employers who embrace the strengths of neurodivergent employees fully are likely to find themselves moving to the front. Embracing neurodiversity means embracing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to work. The future is about true freedom and flexibility in the workplace. Let people show you their full potential by working where, when, and how they do their best work. 

Hi. My name is Becca Chambers, and I am a neurodivergent executive. 

What does neurodivergent mean? It’s a big question, but at a high level, neurodiverse populations are those who have diverse thinking styles and have conditions like, but not limited to, ADHD (that’s me!), autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and other diagnoses related to the way people perceive and interact with the world. 

According to numerous studies, around 20% of the world is neurodiverse. Yes, that’s a lot of people. It’s also important to call out that many neurodivergent people go undiagnosed and live their lives experiencing difficulties with organizational skills, social perception, and social interactions. Up to 80% of those on the autism spectrum face unemployment. It’s not because neurodivergent lack something or are less capable. It’s because the world was built for the neurotypical majority. When held against those standards, neurodivergent people are set up to struggle. Despite advancements in acceptance of mental health, there remains a significant stigma around neurodiversity. I believe some of the responsibility falls on leaders across all industries to help break down this stigma. At my company Alludo, I’m doing my part to help the company embrace and lean into neurodiversity. I’m proud that Alludo is on the forefront of leading this revolution and breaking the stigma for good. How are we doing it? For starters, Alludo isn’t afraid to hire great talent that is born out of diverse backgrounds, locations, and thinking styles. Here, we believe that neurodiversity—that is, diversity of thought and perspective—is diversity. And we know that diversity begets innovation and accelerates progress. It breaks through plateaus and ruts, allowing organizations to go further, faster. 

Bringing your true self to work

As SVP of Brand and Communications and a person who is neurodivergent, I’ve yet to work with a leadership team like the team at Alludo. For the first time in my career, I can finally be my whole, neurodivergent self. It’s a gift I’ve never been given until now. I have always walked a tightrope of balancing my gifts with my perceived shortcomings, struggling to present as neurotypical. How can we bring our absolute best and innovative selves to work if our thinking style is not embraced? (Spoiler: we can’t.)

Leaning into neurodiversity  

At Alludo, I am empowered to lean into my neurodiversity. I don’t hide it. I embrace my whole self, and by doing so, I give people around me permission to embrace their whole selves—neurodivergent or not. Even though Alludo is at the leading edge of this revolution, we’re nowhere near done yet. We have a wonderful and challenging journey ahead of us. We’re starting with a newly launched Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group, a safe space for neurodivergent employees and allies to discuss, share, and educate each other on the challenges and opportunities associated with neurodiversity.  

Until this point, the world has missed out on an incalculable volume of creativity, inspiration, and innovation stemming from stigma around neurodiversity. Now that we’ve started to break down that stigma, the possibilities are endless. I’m excited about where we’re going. I finally feel true freedom (one of Alludo’s values) in my career and won’t settle for anything less. And I want that same feeling for every one of the 1 in 5 people around the world who don’t fit the neurotypical majority. 

Happy Pride!  

As we express our identity and values as a company, a key theme keeps coming up over again: the power of authenticity.  

Kicking off June and Pride month, we’d like to state that we believe unapologetic authenticity is integral to working better and living better. All genders, races, ethnicities, religious beliefs, identities, and sexual orientations are honored here. At Corel, we not only welcome diversity, but we enthusiastically champion it.  

Beyond being compassionate and the right thing to do; it’s also smart business. Diversity drives innovation. It breaks through plateaus. It challenges status quos and paints new possibilities. It’s at the very core of not only our employee culture but our offerings. We deliver a space to create, ideate, and share because individualism matters. If we lived in a world where everything was the same, nothing would be worth sharing. 

It’s one thing to write that we welcome and champion diversity at Corel, but we recognize that’s not enough. We also want to unequivocally state our company’s support for LBGTQIA+ rights. Supporting our LGBTQIA+ employees, partners, customers, friends, and allies in the greater community isn’t political; it’s about humanity. 

In this context, Pride Month feels especially important as we continue to place a high value on creating a safe space where people can show up fully as they are, bring their whole selves to work, and enrich our community with unique perspectives, backgrounds, identities, beliefs, and capabilities. 

Wishing everyone a safe, authentic, and happy Pride!