I was reading this article today;
How Far Should You Chase The "Impossible" Dream?
By Lynne Soraya on July 22, 2008 in Asperger's Diary
It's an interesting article about the problems aspies face when rising through the ranks (at work) to management positions.
It questions Temple Grandin's repeated statements that "people with autism or Asperger's should never allow themselves to be promoted into a management role, due to the social demands." and asks not only whether this is possible but whether or not aspies should actively pursue such careers.
The article also mentions John Elder Robison, author of "Look Me In The Eye". If you've read that book, then you'll know how John Elder had a lot of difficulties in management and that it stifled an otherwise brilliant technical career.
I think the article raises two very interesting questions;
1. Can an aspie make it to Upper Management.
The answer here is, quite obviously a resounding "Yes". As to whether or not an aspie can actually be effective in management... I'm not so sure about that. Come to think of it, I wonder if upper management itself is ever effective?
The other question is;
2. Should an Aspie try to make it to upper management?
This is a much harder question since there is pain in both approaches.
If you stay put...
It's quite painful and demeaning to be "bypassed" by younger and less effective colleagues who move to management positions while you remain as you are. Once in upper management, those same colleagues are able to impose their will upon you and may even take revenge for things which may have occurred while they were your junior. It's also quite frustrating to miss out on the salary hikes given to people who move up in the corporate world.
If you move up.
On the other hand, the route to upper management is frustrating for aspies. There's a lot more emphasis put on social skills and social situations and there's less need for technical solutions. I've found nothing to enjoy about my interactions with upper management. The positions bring considerably more stress while significantly reducing your ability to provide technical input.
I've sat in meetings steaming internally because of the mediocrity of some of the decisions being made but knowing that I'm powerless to change them. If I'd been in a lower position, I'd have been blissfully unaware of how close to "functioning", the company had become. Often, in a lower position, I'd be able to implement a change by pretending not to understand it's ramifications. In upper management however, with all of the responsibility that the positions entail, this is not usually possible.
A Happy Medium
I'm convinced that aspies should always be following their special interests. If those special interests include management, then you should move upwards. If not, then the ideal position is the last bastion of technical work and the first rung of management.
To move above this rung is to risk major job dissatisfaction which can often only be resolved by leaving the company.