Supergeeks at Work

young technical scientist

“Supergeeks “ bring a range of strengths, challenges and vulnerabilities to the workplace. But what do these look like in real people? Here’s your chance to meet some of the brightest minds so essential to business today.  *Stories shared with permission. Identifying details altered.

 Peter, in his 50’s, is Head of Department at one of the world’s top universities. His major passion in life is his research. People don’t interest him and leadership is something that is necessary to progress his career. At a time of extraordinary change in Higher Education, he needs to build relationships with other academics to promote collaboration and ensure his Department thrives in the future. However, this prospect fills him with anxiety.

 Richard, in his late 40’s, was brought into a global business to lead the resolution of a huge technical crisis. He did this very successfully and his abrasive personal style was overlooked in the context of his indispensable expertise. In the months following, Richard’s behaviour toward others has been seen as increasingly problematic.

 Daniel is a brilliant metallurgist in his 30’s. He is a loner and a colleague describes him as having no sense of proportion or ability to compromise. However, the MD of the business recognised that the most troublesome of his staff tended to be the most effective. Daniel left to take an elevated position in another company but was fired after only a few weeks as they found his “quirks” difficult to manage.

Alison, 26, despite her excellent software development skills, has had problems in several jobs because she caused offence to others by, in her mind, just telling the truth. If she thinks a customer has had a terrible idea, she tells them exactly that. When faced with a situation requiring diplomacy and a sensitivity, she has persisted forcefully with her point of view because she is convinced she is right. She cannot read the nuances of different social situations and modify her responses to fit.

Jenna, 32, a valuable talent in data security, found changes in her work environment overwhelming. The introduction of open plan offices and hot desking was much more difficult for her than it was for others. The uncertainty of where she would sit each day along with unpredictable changes in light and noise stressed her to the point that she considered leaving her job.

Graham in his mid 30’s is a brilliant, ambitious technologist in a public sector organisation. The only route to a better salary was if he took on some management or leadership responsibilities. His team leader was due to retire in 6 months time so Graham was offered leadership development opportunities as part of the succession planning process. Compared to other participants, Graham clearly struggled with developing his emotional and social competencies. With time fast running out, his employer calls in a coach.

Hardeep , a 40 year old engineer assumed others thought the same as he did and knew what he did. He didn’t realise that his unique ideas did not occur to other people. When his department was faced with a complex technical problem, he knew exactly what needed to be done but it did not occur to him to communicate his solution to other people. After all, meetings were a form of torture for Hardeep and worth escaping from at the earliest opportunity.

Bob , in his late 30’s is a software developer who had been with his employer for 6 years. Generally well liked, he was quite extrovert but at times clumsy in his interaction with others which led to complaints. More of an issue though were concerns over his technical performance. His manager put a plan, characterised by very clear expectations, in place. Dramatic improvements were made but, confusingly, not sustained. This performance management process led to considerable stress and frustration for both Bob and his employer.

Who are the “supergeeks” you work with? Are they a “square peg in a round hole”? What are the strengths, challenges and vulnerabilities that you see?

Masterclass: Coaching Supergeeks. Central London November 9th 2015.

Find out more and book your place here.


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About the Top Stream blog.

This blog is written and curated on behalf of Top Stream by Sally Moore, Chartered Psychologist. The idea is to inform, promote discussion, and make the science of neurodiversity available and accessible to new audiences. Some funny stuff may creep in – when different brains connect, there is a serious side but it creates some comedy too. There will be contributions from guest writers, interesting interviews, research updates and first hand stories of people’s real life experiences. If you would like to be included or have a story to tell, please get in touch!

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