My nephew has a form of Autism that falls on the spectrum close to high-functioning. He is an amazing kid who is constantly placed in a learning disabilities class because how he learns doesn’t “fit” the system. About 18 months ago, when he was 11, he actually hacked my sister’s (his mother) Facebook account and posted some pretty funny pictures. He thought it was funny. I thought it was brilliant.
A kid in an LD class hacked a Facebook account as a means to entertain himself. The cool thing about my nephew, is when you treat him a bit differently you uncover and get to experience his genius and amazing potential. Our organizations are no different really. We have spent decades, for the sake of a distorted view of fairness, trying to make sure everyone gets treated the same and we are collectively worse off for having done so in my opinion.
Vodafone has realized this and in Germany they are making the most of it. In a recent article written for the BBC, the organization realized the genius of those with autism; they recognized how beneficial autistic people’s natural gift of recognizing patterns and numbers could be to their organization. The difficulty in social interaction that people with autism have was a minor issue to overcome. They learned to interact and treat them differently so they could realize and benefit from the potential and genius that those with autism bring to the company.
This approach needn’t be applied only with those on the autistic spectrum for organizations. We need to stop the vanilla, homogenous approach to how you interact with people for the sake of creating a facade of fairness. The benefit is providing an outlet for the amazing potential of a human being, and that is very profitable as well as adding purpose to the person as well as their role in your organization.
In an earlier post, I wrote about the benefits of unleashing potential. You cannot take advantage of these benefits without providing an outlet for that potential and adjust your leadership to accommodate the needs required to bring that genius to the forefront of people’s behavior.
This is true engagement in its purest form. It is meeting organizational goals through the development of the individual instead of in spite of the individual. This is a completely different approach to how most businesses operate and must be the next step in how businesses evolve to remain competitive. It is meeting organizational goals PLUS it is meeting the personal goals of people. Everyone wants to fulfill their potential and have a viable outlet for the genius they possess. The organizations that help make that happen will be the business leaders in the marketplace.
How are you and your organization treating people differently to achieve their potential?