Like most people, I’ve had my share of bosses. Some were excellent teachers and made work a pleasant experience. Others, let’s just say they could have used some polishing up on their people skills. None of that compares to working for a boss on the autism spectrum. Again from personal experience, having an immediate supervisor with Asperger’s can be both fascinating and excruciating. First, some, but not all, supervisors on the spectrum are walking resources for workers eager to learn the finer details of their chosen occupation. For example, for those willing to put in the extra time to increase knowledge and improve skill levels, there can be no better person to learn from. They can be perfectionist and may not understand why everyone in the company doesn’t work obsessively long hours – just like them. Further, be prepared to witness emotional outbursts ranging from the depths of despair to the heights of euphoria. If you can accept working for a demanding, and sometimes insensitive supervisor, there are actual benefits that can enhance a career path.
Sometimes employees want, and need, a boss who will push them –hard- in their quest to be the very best in their field. Certainly not all employees feel this way, however a percentage of workers thrive under these conditions. If that is the case, having an Asperger’s boss may be the right fit to get you all the way to the top. Staying the course with this type of mentor will force you to not only learn your job, but master every aspect of it. Additionally, developing so called “soft skills”, which are in decline according to many career experts, is always a good investment towards future career goals and personal development. Having the capacity to work with different personality types under conditions that can be stressful is a skill very much needed in today’s marketplace. Moreover, having the ability to work with other employees on the spectrum will bode well for possible future supervisory opportunities as more young adults enter the job market. Perhaps the greatest takeaway that comes from working for a boss with Asperger’s is the personal growth and development which invariably results from daily interactions.
Experiences like this have a way of changing a person; why not make it a change for the better? Develop leadership skills that help to define the culture as a place of nurturance and learning. Seek to mitigate the tyrannical behavior by providing alternative methods of achieving personal and group goals. Finally, look for opportunities to be a calming voice of reason, as this kind of work environment is often rife with dysfunction and underlying hostility. Contrary to popular belief, individuals on the autism can and do exhibit emotions, sensibilities, and yes – even humor. Granted the humor can be quirky, odd, off-beat, and different, but humor nevertheless. Embrace the lighter moments, as inevitably the decision to continue working under these conditions or leave must be addressed. Obviously some employees leave for better opportunities, but others stay on for a variety of reasons. For those who decide to stay in a work environment like this, be sure to have answered the following questions: Does the company provide a path to reach my personal career goals and objectives long term? Are my abilities fully utilized and appreciated? Is it worth enduring the emotional roller coaster ride to ensure a steady paycheck? Enjoy the ride and take nothing for granted.