Leaders with Autism – How an Executive Coach can Help

coaching leaders with autism

Written by Mary Asante

Last updated: 15/04/2022

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An executive coach can help leaders with autism set goals, focus on priorities and stop worrying about other things that are not important. Leaders with autism, such as yourself can become anxious about an extensive list of things that you need to deliver. Your tendency to focus on things of interest to you may mean that other activities may slip off your radar. Or it may take you a long time to get to them. Collaborating with an executive coach can help you prioritise. They can also help you achieve a good balance between business priorities.

Self-Awareness

Being self-aware can help you understand your emotions and behaviours. It can also help you understand triggers in the workplace and working environment better. Thus, you will be better equipped to manage emotions and behaviours at work.

Everyone deserves respect. You are probably your worst critique. So, it is important to develop self-compassion. As a result, this will help you to understand that you deserve respect, kindness and self-love. You will learn to treat yourself as you deserve.

Social Cues and Non-verbal Communication

Your executive coach can collaborate with you to support you. They can also help you understand social cues and non-verbal communication cues. The executive coach can work with you through scenarios that you are likely to come across. The goal of coaching will not be to change you but to raise your awareness of these issues. As a result of increasing your awareness, you will become better equipped to deal with your specific working environment. As well as its challenges.

self-awareness
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Routine

As an individual with autism, you may like routine. You like planning and scheduling. You work hard to ensure that things work exactly as they are supposed to. As a leader with autism, you are the same and enjoy routine, planning and scheduling. But, in the workplace, maintaining a routine can be difficult. This is because several other factors may affect your routine. Therefore, making it hard for you to cope with the working environment. An executive coach can work with you and help you to build flexibility into your routine. Your coach can help you to adapt better to sudden changes in the workplace.

Flexibility

Having flexibility as a leader can help. Especially, the flexibility to work from home sometimes, away from all the noise and distraction. You can work within an environment that you are more comfortable with. You can focus much better. Knowing when you are expected to be in the office or visit client sites also helps. You can incorporate this into your schedule.

Empathy

Leaders need to be empathetic towards their staff. You may come across as non-empathetic. This may be an issue. An executive coach can work with leaders with autism like you to help you pick up on some of the social cues. This is because they can help you understand other people’s emotions and behaviours at work. Hence, will help you to connect with your staff and the people you come across within your role. Your coach will assist you to develop your people skills. Again, remember that your coach is not seeking to change who you are. But to support you to get the best value out of your work connections.

Motivation

For activities of interest, you can be very passionate and have high levels of motivation. You will have laser focus when working on these to achieve your objectives. However, for other activities of less interest, you will have low motivation to work on them and get them done. You may do them if you understand why you need to do them and the objective that will be achieved by completing them. However, if there are no clear objectives to be achieved by completing these activities, you are less likely to be interested in them.

Having Difficult Conversation

You may find talking to people quite tricky and difficult. When things are not going well, having a difficult conversation can be even more difficult. Because you are a leader with autism, your approach to conversation is likely to be direct. Your literal interpretation of words may make having difficult conversations much harder for employees at the receiving end. You will say things as they are and how you see them. A lot of people struggle to handle the naked truth. An executive coach can help leaders such as yourself with autism to work on the delivery of your messaging. They can support you to manage difficult conversations better.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

Constructive feedback can be good for personal development. It is important to receive feedback about your work. As a black and white thinker, you may take feedback literally. This can have a positive or negative impact on you, depending on what that feedback is. In the same way, giving feedback to others may be tricky. You are likely to give honest feedback. Saying it as it is.

Most people may struggle with honest feedback. People are used to being praised before a bit of bad news is delivered. For example: “Amanda, you did very well in pulling the project report together, but it was full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. You also left out some key information that was an integral part of the project”. Your approach may be different. You may say “Amanda, that was a bad report. It was full of mistakes. It did not meet our standards….” In this scenario, Amanda will come out of the discussion with you feeling extremely upset. You will need to work on your delivery of feedback, especially negative feedback.

Asking for Help

Asking for help is something you may find difficult. You may need help if your workload is too heavy, or if you are struggling to meet deadlines. You may also need help if you need more resources to be able to deliver a particular project that you are leading. Sometimes, you may feel that you should not ask for help as this is a sign of weakness or bringing into question your capability. A coach will work with you to assure you that it is okay to ask for help. Asking for help is a sign of strength.

Setting Boundaries

It is important to establish clear boundaries between your work and home life to avoid burn-out. With technology, it is difficult to separate work from home life. However, it is necessary to have a clear separation. Collaborating with an executive coach will help leaders with autism such as you to take control of your time. They can help you to prioritise so that you can make time for things you enjoy. This includes time for wellbeing and relaxation activities.

Leaders with autism will benefit greatly from working with an executive coach. You can work on specific issues or challenges that you may be facing at any point in your life. You’ll learn to manage your emotions and behaviours at work better. You will achieve a better work-life balance. Executive coaching will help you achieve your potential.

Read more on the benefits of executive coaching.

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