How Far Along the Autism Spectrum Are You As a Leader?

A provocative discussion on one of my favorite blogs has got me thinking again about Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

First of all – in its moderate manifestation Asperger’s Syndrome need not strike fear in the heart of parents, teachers, nor in the heart of the individual directly concerned. There are many relatively happy, ultra high functioning people who fit that description, including the world’s youngest (newly-minted) multi-billionaire

I have a couple of master’s degrees in two different areas of psychology and a full qualification as a UK-registered psychotherapist, so my opinion is at least semi-valid, semi-professional.

Over a 15-plus year career working as a communications-focused coach and leadership psychologist, primarily in the City of London, I would say most of the male clients I’ve worked with are on average about three-quarters of the way up the Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum. That’s why they are good at several key areas of their job, but that’s also why their supervisors and/or the learning and development officers have suggested they work with a coach like me.

For example, many clients I have worked with will typically pour themselves a cup of coffee, tea or a glass of water at the beginning of a session with me (on their premises) and won’t ask me if I’d like anything to drink myself.

If you aspire to be an effective leader of people and you are quite high on the scale, then you might just benefit from interpersonally-focused coaching and development.

This quick assessment could help you decide.

I just took it myself and got a lucky 13 score – but then this is what I do for a living. And this assessment, like many other “psychometrics” is quite easy to “game.” In other words, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which options to select in order to get the result you want.

To be fair, on a bad day I’m sure my Autism/Asperger’s quotient would be much higher than 13.

So what if you turn out to be quite high on the “spectrum”? What can you do about it, assuming you want to be able to gain followership and motivate people to achieve great things on the job?

For anyone who wants to be more successful in a social business environment, I encourage them in the very first instance to focus on learning how to say:

– Please
– Thank you
– I’m sorry

And once they can do that consistently, to work on saying those phrases as sincerely as possible and to do so even when under pressure and even if you don’t think you need to and/or you’re convinced you’re 100% in the right… This is the kind of social performance where coaching and rehearsal sessions can be hugely helpful.