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Can you ever be a good manager or boss if you are a bit Aspie?

(12 Posts)
hmmhmm Tue 19-Feb-13 11:32:02

No diagnosis but I have always felt different, struggled to empathise, am oblivious to workplace tensions unless they are very overt, and looking back on my childhood I am surprised nobody ever picked up on my differences which were more marked then. I score highly on the AQ test and when I dissect arguments I have with my partner I can see that I am intractable. He says he's never met anyone who can make him angrier than I do but I am always the one who is calm and resolute when we argue.

I have learned to fit in and am successful in life but would like to go further in my career. This would mean taking a managerial role though, which is unavoidable and inevitable. But I am very worried about it.

I am not assertive enough and I am a "yes man". I struggle with confrontation even if it is justified. I capitulate easily. I struggle to accommodate differences in procedures and am not good at "letting go" and letting others do things I feel I could do better. I struggle to see the bigger picture and get bogged down in minutiae. I can tend towards anxiety, depression and even paranoia. I am very self-aware though and can usually reason with myself to overcome these feelings.

I am worried that these traits would combine to make me really bad at a job where I am responsible for ensuring others can do their jobs well.

Does anyone have any experience of Asperger's in the workplace that they could share with me?

thenightsky Tue 19-Feb-13 11:38:02

Gosh. I don't know, but I'm watching this thread with interest as you sound exactly like my son. I do worry about him making his way in the world. He was not diagnosed until he started failing at university last year.

hmmhmm Tue 19-Feb-13 11:41:01

Well, I have no diagnosis but I am sure there's something different about me, and the only think I can think of is AS. And I am now in my early thirties and externally just what society wants - homeowner, DC, professional job. I hope he gets any support he might need to achieve what he wants from life smile

Todaywasgoodtodaywasfun Tue 19-Feb-13 12:24:52

What could work is if you were a manager with an NT deputy who was the opposite of you (very touchy-feely, intuitive, etc); or if you started your career advancement as deputy to such a person. You could then make a very strong team as polar opposites, with a full range of strengths.

HoleyGhost Tue 19-Feb-13 12:28:12

Surely this must be something you have discussed in your 121s?

You need to work on your assertiveness. Buy books, do a course, put it into practise. It will help you learn to delegate.

hmmhmm Tue 19-Feb-13 13:46:35

I don't work in a big enough organisation that we have a regular appraisal structure within which I could raise this stuff. It might be that I have to move organisations in order to progress. Which is frightening when I worry that I might be terrible!

acebaby Wed 20-Feb-13 14:43:41

The insight you have into your character is amazing (whether for an NT or AS person). I think that you could learn how to manage people by concentrating, at an intellectual level, on what had to be done i.e. running through a mental check list of things to look out for, and developing strategies for tackling areas of difficult.

For example I find delegating difficult, so I ask myself 'is this in my job description? Should I be doing else?' and when I get frustrated that I am spending more time training someone to do a task than I would have taken doing it myself, I repeat little mantras like 'developing my staff is part of my job', 'this is their job and their responsibility - I shouldn't do it for them'. There are management manuals and web sites full of this sort of thing...

Basically, you just need to go through each area you find difficult, and formulate an effective strategy for dealing with it. As I said before, the biggest barrier would be a lack of insight into what you were not so good at. And you have this insight so, I think you could be an excellent manager smile. A more difficult question is whether you would be happy in the role.

Good luck!

raisah Thu 21-Feb-13 06:00:51

I am working with an aspie colleague on a project & he has taken over completely. He is doing both of our roles & it's frustrating, I feel incompetent because my role has become redundant. He has to be in control & is so obsessive about procedures & structures that we will miss the deadline. So please bear this in mind, its all v well wanting to progress in your career but not to the detriment of others. I am sympathetic to his condition as my son has ASD but my work is suffering because of him.

Callthemidlife Thu 21-Feb-13 09:20:25

You know, I'm all for people stretching themselves further than they think possible, but to be honest I think this is going to be very very tough for you, and I say this as someone with two SN children myself, and I'd really love to tell you to go for it.

People want more than anything to be managed effectively, and that means by people who understand their issues and who can help them and who can be an umbrella for them in terms of taking flak on their behalf. There's a shed load of expectations, and you may struggle to meet what is required. In fact most managers I know struggle, and they don't have any inherent difficulties to start with. Being a people person is so important in management, and it is going to be such a hurdle to be effective without that. But it does of course depend on the industry (an audit mgr can get away with less people skills than a bar manager, for example)

You can overcome a lot of the difficulties by reading up as much as you can on work psychology and organisational behaviour. That may help you generally to interpret stuff and help you toward a more level playing field. And you can also look to try develop your career by specialisation instead of by managerial pathways, perhaps? If you can name your industry I could comment more specifically.

HoleyGhost Thu 21-Feb-13 09:24:51

You should have regular 121s no matter what the size of your organisation. It might be informal, over coffee, but you need to be able to discuss your objectives and aspirations.

Again, assertiveness training will help. Many people with ASD can become excellent managers.

venusandmars Thu 21-Feb-13 13:16:34

In my experience, being a really good manager requires a mix of skills - some of which are about structure and process and logic, and some of which are about people and concepts and feelings. And I think that anyone who is very strongly polarised one way or the other struggles to be effective as a manager. As callthemidlife says there are some work areas where the balance is towards one side or the other. Many managers in an engineering discipline, for example, are good at structure and process and work with others who are similar. I have found that many of these people can also be good people managers too, particularly if there are good structures around HR processes (regular systems for appraisals, established processes for dealing with complaints etc)

But I think the people who are excellent managers are good at working with ambiguity, dealing with change and uncertainty, and making things feel certain for others in an uncertain environment.

I think it is possible to learn the skills, but I also think that if you are in a role that is very un-natural to you, then you are likely to find it very demanding and stressful. There is evidence which shows that if you are performing tasks which are not your natural preferences then it works the brain harder, uses up more glucose and increase your body's consumption of oxygen (so yes actually physically tiring, as well as mentally demanding).

emess Thu 21-Feb-13 22:00:20

Reading with interest. I'm not Aspie (AFAIK) but I recognise myself in much of your description of yourself. I am very analytical about everything including myself and other people. I am currently leader of a small team of 4 people. The relationship with 3 is fine, but the 4th is difficult for me to manage, to the extent that I have questioned my suitability for this role. She's a people person but not a team player, if that makes any sense.
I used to be a software developer, in a very flat structure, with no staff to manage - some days that is a very appealing prospect!

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