I was able to meet up with Maxime D.- Pomerleau before the end of 2020 to explore her leadership style thinking. This short film shares her delight in discovering, as part of the Sync Programme in Quebec, that leading doesn’t always mean having to lead from the front.
This realisation has had a transformational impact, relieving Maxime of the pressure to be something that she doesn’t always want or need to be in her professional life.
Too often as Deaf and disabled leaders we feel the need to be out there and visible. Whilst we need to be recognised for our skills and talents, and to fight for the access and flex to do this, this doesn’t have to be achieved through strident flag-waving. We can be different things in different situations, following the ebb and flow of our interests, desires and energy.
It’s true that as Deaf and disabled leaders we often find ourselves to be the only disabled person in the room and having to use that opportunity to draw attention to challenge and be activist. With that comes a sense that our very presence can foist unwanted attention upon us in both good and bad ways. We also have choices to not be those things, to move away from feeling obliged.
Maxime spends much of her professional life in performance and media shape-shifting, taking on different roles whether she is part of someone else’s dance ensemble or driving her own ideas to fruition with or without a team following her lead. She adapts her leadership as appropriate, responding to situations and needs with flexibility. Very like her creation, Batwheel!
Batwheel is an additional and delicious case in point: she is the super heroine character that Maxime created some years ago. The tasked crusader still has a dedicated following online and is currently being refreshed and developed for a new set of potential pandemic quests – a super heroine for crips and a leadership force for change in Quebec and beyond!
What quests will Maxime explore that will enable her to throw light on the increasing barriers in Deaf and disabled people’s lives through this metaphorical character’s gritty endeavours?
Certainly, with and more and more of the population finding new ways to live with blocks and restrictions, Deaf and disabled leadership needs to throw lived experience of shape shifting into the mix? We have after all been on these survival quest for years. And we may just have the solutions.
Watch this video to see Maxime talking through situational leadership with Sarah Pickthall: