Posted in leadership

Leadership Strengths of an Autistic Female: Common?

So, I’m in an educational leadership class that had us do the Gallup CliftonStrengths “test.”  In order to do this, you must buy a new, unopened copy of Strengths Based Leadership and go online to take a test.  I think it’s also available to purchase without the book, but for nearly $20, just get the book, too, as you save nothing by just buying the online version.

At any rate, I never would have taken this but for class, however, I found the theory behind the test intriguing, and I thought you all might as well.

The theory behind Strengths Based Leadership is that we ought to focus on our strengths.  We know ourselves, and therefore if we do what we’re best at and leave others, who are better at other things than we are, to do those things, thereby, we can have an effective team.

I know I lost some Autistics there with the word, “team,” because many of us remember the definition of team meaning “ignore the Autistic and/or make him or her do all of the work and claim group credit.”  Believe me, I know.

However, in a functioning model of teamwork, each person does what he or she is best at and together they do better than they ever would alone.  In theory, at any rate.

Finding My Strengths

Taking the online test was messing with my brain the whole time.  You have two options and you pick from 1-5.  On the 1 side is one idea, like “I value colors.”  (not a real thing, but nearly as random) and on the 5 side might be something like “Wookies provide me life-affirming values.”  And you’d pick a 2 if you’re kind of close to the color statement, and a 4 if you’re kind of close to the Wookies.  I spent a lot of time going “3” or neutral since I was all “these are the same thing” or “I hate both of these things equally.”  But once in a while, there’d be a set where I could choose 2 or 4, and in rare instances a 1 or a 5.

The entire time I thought, “What kind of messed up neurotypical came up with this and why in heck will it never end?”  (It was over a hundred statement pairs.)

The interesting thing, though, was that I didn’t “fail” the test at all despite my numerous scores of 3.

I did, however, come up with this very one-sided report.


My Results


The test comes up with four categories: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking and then there are these sub-sets underneath.  The report comes back with multiple sub-sets.  Four of my five came under one category, and the fifth was under another.  (In looking online, it seems like there might have been many more possible, but they will only give you the top 5 for $19.95 or whatever your book costs).

Anyway, guess which one I’m dominant in?

If you take Executing to mean DOING things, Influencing to mean getting people to DO things, Relationship Building to mean focusing on CARING for the team, and Strategic Thinking to mean PLANNING…you can probably guess it’s Strategic Thinking!

I know you’re all very shocked.

However, the one I go that was NOT Strategic Thinking (I could have had all 5 be under that category) was under relationship building.  My theory is that has to do with being a female Autistic (or a female-type Autistic; women Autistics tend to be more aware of feelings and concerned about how other people feel than do male, or male-type Autistics; arguably some male Autistics have this, too, and some females can’t do the feelings thing, but in general this is something we Autistics have noticed).  But when I looked at what “connectedness” meant, I realized this is actually something many Autistics might have whether or not they focus on emotions.

Here’s what the test found in detail:


This means that I pay attention to what goes on around me and reflect on things after I get a lot of information.


This means that I understand that hard work is important in success and that I see patterns, linking together the people I know and the ideas I have, and try to use what I learn to make myself do better the next time.  If I am successful, I understand that it is not because I am in a vacuum.


People often come to me for new ways of doing things, and I am not stifled by traditions or routines.  I look at things a new way and contribute a lot to brainstorming sessions.


I like to read and be alone, but I bring together all I learn and discover to help others.  I prepare for important conversations by gathering a lot of background information, and always delve deeper into topics.


I combine my love of reading with my ability to figure out why people are different.  I experience the story of humanity through the printed word.


As you can see, many of these themes may describe many other Autistics: we often are forced to pay attention to what others are saying or doing around us because we do not naturally pick up on social cues.  We read incessantly, hoping to discover what the heck others seem to know, innately.  If people can get past how “weird” they think we are, they find we can give them fascinating new ideas and solve problems in an unexpected way because we are not tied down with what has always been done.  This sounds like how a lot of Autistics may solve problems.  In the end, we often think if we figure out what neurotypicals know, we will find success.  When we fail, we do file it away and try to fail differently (at very least) next time.

The Takeaway

So, I think the biggest takeaway from this was how I was supposed to be “managed.”  They suggested that people like me are great to have on teams because we see what others do not.  Unfortunately, we are not great do-ers, so we should be teamed with people who can take our ideas and make them happen.  In business, that seems like a luxury.  I realized…no wonder we end up in Academia or thinktanks: business and education rarely have time for people like us, especially if it takes another person working with us to DO anything.  However, as I wrote on the blog in the past (and will have to dig that up again), Academia had no patience for me since I wasn’t theoretical enough for them.  My insistence on tying my research to the real people it would help prevented me from being encouraged to move into my preliminary examination and dissertation, though I had done quite well throughout.  Weaker academics than I are still there.  If we’re the “brains” of the operation that allow the organization to make progress, why are we seen as a luxury and not a necessity?

Anyone else take this test and get results?  I’m curious to find out what my neurotypical classmates got, as well as what any of you have for scores, if you’ve already taken it.

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