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  • Writer's pictureMaja Arnadottir

ADHD and Leadership

Some famous leaders rumoured to have ADHD include; Richard Branson of Virgin, IKEA's Ingvar Kamprad, JetBlue's David Neeleman, Bill Gates, and possibly Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Walt Disney. Even former presidents are rumoured to have ADHD. But, these are all rumours.

Research implies that people with ADHD are 300% more likely to start their own business.

This is due to the strengths that come with ADHD which often include creativity, multi-tasking, risk-taking, high energy, adaptability and resilience.

The negative aspects commonly include a greater tendency for procrastination, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, disorganisation, and being easily distracted because ADHDers have a very "low boredom threshold" and get frustrated with routine, the status quo and routine tasks. ADHDers are sometimes more focused on the negative sides of their diagnosis but this way of being in the world comes with many gifts and even some super human abilities.

Gifts of ADHD

ADHDers are often at their best and even thrive in times of crisis, as well as enjoy multi-tasking, free association & big picture thinking.

ADHDers tend to view work / life issues from a broad perspective… leading to an intuitively reached solution.

ADHD does not necessarily mean that people cannot focus on what needs to get done as most people with ADHD also have something called Hyper-focus which can help them focus for hours on end on what they love DO-ing.

ADHD is sometimes called the “explorer gene”

ADHDers frequently set out on their own, rejecting what seems to be “normal” at any given time, boldly trusting their instincts, forging ahead with something new and unproven…

Their calculated and risk averse peers may shake their head and insist a solution may never work… but it is only because they themselves would not dare venture into the fascinating yet unknown territories of greater potential!

Super human abilities

High - energy; Some people with ADHD can be energiser bunnies when it comes to doing what they love doing and their energy and optimism can be infectious.

Ability to hyper - focus; Although ADHDers tend to only love focusing on something they find interesting, if not fascinating! The ability to hyper-focus can give them a superpower of spending limitless hours accomplishing tasks that are necessary in order to take their business to the next level!

Ability and desire to multi - task; Although people with ADHD are not much better at multi – tasking than others, they still love to do so, and they are able to juggle many things at the same time, given the right focus and learned organisational skills.

Abundant Creativity; There is no off position on the genius switch! People with ADHD often display an ability to create simple solutions to complicated problems.

Risk without Thinking; Yes, this can be a super human ability as ADHDers can use their impulsivity to dive into problem solving, throwing themselves into what needs to get done without reservation.

Sensitivity about themselves and other people; The best leaders are the ones who have high emotional intelligence which makes them willing and able to read into people, patterns and trends and inspire others towards reaching a common goal.

ADHDers with emotional sensitivity often become influential leaders and visionaries.

the most Important tool for ADHD leaders

Planning your time up front. Being proactive with your time instead of reactive, and not letting time get away from you will be a practiced skill for a leader with ADHD to master as they rise higher in business and leadership. Time management happens to be the number one trick for the world’s most successful people, and people with ADHD can become very effective and efficient with proper time management. Research implies that the average person wastes at least 1/3 of their work day. How much of your time is truly productive?


Spend 10-20 mins at end of each work day to plan for the next day / week / month. Foresight helps those with ADHD the most as it helps channel energy and time constructively in midst of moments filled with creativity and chaos.

Create a habit out of daily planning. This will help clear your head as this habit alone calms a person’s anxiety about what may be coming up next. We can not plan for unknowns but since reactivity is a real challenge for people with ADHD, the habit of planning and looking ahead can help creative individuals keep their focus on tasks at hand, as well as an eye on the BIG GOALS that one wishes to accomplish.

  • Sit with your calendar and goals lists.

  • Decide what to do for the next day…

  • Make a list of just tasks and block out time to complete those tasks.

  • Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize… ask self; what is my NUMBER ONE thing?

  • Block out time on your calendar for upcoming meetings.

  • Focus on the ONE (most important) thing at a time… and then the next “ONE thing”…

  • Give yourself some wiggle room and do not pack your calendar too tightly… ADHDers have many great skills but we are not superhuman.

  • Create some breathing space and plan for some “OFF time” for you to recharge, replenish, reenergise and refocus your strengths.

ADHD entrepreneurs often believe they are capable of major miracles or transformations because their brain actually works much faster than reality. Be aware of this tendency for this belief often gets ADHDers in trouble. There is no such thing as "magical time".

Advanced training for ADHD LEADERS

HERE IS A DARE: Don’t move anything on your calendar, and make a rule of it, unless you can absolutely not help it. Try this for at least 30 days. There are great benefits in time management such as in blocking time on our calendars. When we do so it becomes all the more likely that our great ideas will become a reality.

The benefits of blocking time on your calendar include;

a. Getting a more realistic view and perception of the concept of “time".

b. Visually seeing and experiencing what you "truly" have time for and how long things actually take for you to do and accomplish. Awareness is a magical key.

c. Seeing that you do not have time to complete 60 things… therefore not promising to do 60 things but managing to do the most important things.

Remember that “Magical time” does not exist and won’t suddenly appear on your calendar to save you! Realistic view and use of “time” only comes with greater practice of time management. YOU have to work within the hours in the day if you want to remain sane as well as become successful, and still like your work and business years from now.

Below are some mindset shifts and affirmations for time management and planning:





Without creating time management systems that work for “YOU”… you miss out on wonderful opportunities to boost your productivity and enhance your focus. With greater oversight alone you are sure to experience a boost in productivity as you will also cut down on any sense of anxiety, stress or overwhelm. We learn that time management actually helps us feel better, in control and more powerful!

Time management ideas and systems may sound boring to “I love flying by the seat of my pants” types but many great systems can be a great source of comfort, focus, calm and greater productivity. Embrace learning and growth and stay open to adopting and exploring new ways of doing things with greater ease and efficiency. The choice is your!

Continued openness to change, personal growth and evolution is what helps leaders advance in life and work, and ADHDers tend to be OPEN MINDED.


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