THE BLOG
05/30/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Practical Management Of An ADD Boss

I have ADD/ADHD, and I run a business. That's not a marriage made in heaven, but I use medication and have benefited from therapy. Thus, I can better control of the condition, but it's still there - making life more 'interesting' for me and those who work with me. Fortunately, they manage me pretty well, and we all seem to do just fine.

I'm not unique in this regard. The same scenario plays out in thousands of organizations around the country every day. This is because ADHD does not define the totality of a person or that individual's professional potential. You can be smart and disorganized; intuitive and unpunctual; hard working and easily bored. As a result, you may have a great boss who also happens to hav ADHD.

Let's not sugarcoat it: your boss having ADHD is always going to be a bit of a cross to bear. But like so many things in life, you can do it the easy way or the hard way. The latter, I guarantee, will make everyone miserable. And you really are crazy if you think that your employer doesn't notice the eye rolls, smirks and sighs.

But if it's the easy way that your after I can give you a few hints. These aren't my own inventions but my observations based having been handled efficiently both at AbilTo (my current company) and a number of times before hand. Of course, none of the following will help if your boss is stupid or a jerk, but then the real problem isn't actually ADHD.

1. I'm rambling. Let me continue.
Personally, I can think while I speak and after, but not before. That's pretty common in people with ADHD. So don't try to shut down digressions too quickly. You'll kill the creative process and generate some genuine resentment. Since this is your boss that we're discussing, I think that you'll agree that resentment would be bad.

2. Don't be boring.
People with ADHD bore easily, so don't be boring. You don't have to be funny, and you don't have to represent the most interesting aspect of the organization. All you need to do is engage in an open and forthright manner about stuff that matters. Some people think of this as unprofessional, but really, it's all about finding a way to connect.

3. No need to remind me of my flaws.
I know all about them already; I wrestle with them daily. And no, I don't want to talk about the new way of being organized that just read about. Instead, I want to hire people who are organizationally superior to me, and let them help. And I'm not alone. If you work for an ADHD boss, be part of the solution to his organizational and executional issues and he or she will love you forever.

I'm not suggesting for one moment, that you should give anyone a pass simply because they have ADHD. But very often, people with ADHD have other qualities that qualify them for leadership. That's how they got into positions of responsibilities in the first place. Embrace these, manage the ADHD aspects realistically and collaborate to make more progress faster.

Michael B. Laskoff
CEO, AbilTo