Articles

Legitimate Leadership And A Visually-Impaired Participant

July 18, 2020 - By Leonie van Tonder, Associate

In doing the seventh group of a Leadership Excellence Programme for a leading financial services company in South Africa, Legitimate Leadership consultant, Leonie van Tonder, faced a challenge when she was informed that there would be a visually-impaired person in the group.

Leonie says that she had never handled this type of challenge before and “anxiety was abundant!”

It was planned that the initial two-day Introduction to Legitimate Leadership would be in person and the subsequent application modules and reviews would be online, because the participants were spread across the country.

The interaction during sessions both in person and online is typically very visual, with writing on whiteboards and slides. So, the first question for Leonie was how to get past this.

“Believing that if you want to get the answer ask the source, I had an immediate discussion with Allan (the person concerned) and asked him what worked for him, especially referring to courses Allan had done in the past, and what could be improved,” says Leonie.

In the upshot, the following was done:

  • The workbook was transferred into Word, for his software to read to him.
  • All the slides were transferred into Word.
  • It was decided that he would be online throughout, not in the room.
  • The documents were sent to him 10 days in advance, to give him an opportunity to go through them and ask questions and receive explanations if required.
  • On the evening before the first day Leonie and Allan held a discussion on the phone to smooth out any understanding.
  • Allan was connected on a second computer so that he could participate in the group discussions (Leonie was presenting from the first computer).
  • After the first day they had another conversation to check for possible improvements.
  • Leonie then wrote a short document, which she sent to Allan beforehand, to put more ‘meat’ on the understanding of the Value/Needs Module, as she felt that understanding this without seeing it would be difficult. For this she quoted liberally out of Wendy Lambourne’s book, Legitimate Leadership.
  • Leonie held a feedback session with Allan 10 days after the intervention to finally check that all had gone well.

There were some connection problems during the sessions due to power outages, but the sessions were then continued on phones.

Feedback on the experience from Allan was positive and he was excited about the Legitimate Leadership journey.

“Allan will be held accountable for how he applies the learnings,” says Leonie.

Allan commented: “The key component for successful learning to take place on a virtual platform for people with visual disabilities is communication. Approximately two weeks before we started our Legitimate leadership journey you (Leonie) contacted me to find out what my requirements and specific needs were to ensure a smooth transition for our learning journey. Thank you for initiating this meeting. Now that you have a better understanding of what my needs are as a visually-impaired person, I am very confident that we will complete this learning journey together successfully.”

Leonie van Tonder
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