“I wish my mind worked like yours!”

Such was the sentiment relayed to me last week as I was reviewing a document an outside party had prepared about our organization’s work. He was sharing the document with me on a video call. I was simply reading through the text, making sure the content was correct so I could tell him when he could move on to the next section. He was shocked by how I was processing the information and what I was able to retain and recall so quickly.

For nearly two decades, I never realized that my mind worked differently than most. It wasn’t until I was a college student that a professor noted something was just a little off, so he recommended I visit the university learning center. The experts there determined I was dyslexic. For the previous 15 years of learning, I assumed that most processed information like I did, confronting the same struggles and developing the same methods for compensating. Oh, how wrong I was.

Today, I am proud to be a neurodivergent leader, a relatively new label in a society so keen on labels. It incorporates all of those whose differences affect how their brains work. It includes everything from ADHD to autism, epilepsy to Tourette’s, developmental language disorders to dyslexia. Individuals like Elon Musk, Tim Burton and Simone Biles have gone on the record in sharing their conditions, and many have publicly speculated that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein have shown signs of being neurodivergent as well.

So, why would one be proud to be identified as one whose brain processes information in ways that are not typical for most individuals? Here's my analysis for why neurodiverse leaders are so powerful:

  • First, a neurodivergent leader is a problem solver.
  • A neurodivergent leader is an inherently cognitive thinker.
  • A neurodivergent leader is seldom stymied.
  • A neurodivergent leader is constantly innovating and experimenting.
  • A neurodivergent leader appreciates the differences.
  • A neurodivergent leader is focused on outcomes, not inputs.

Read the full article about neurodiverse leaders by Patrick Riccards at Forbes.