Autistic Candor, “Team Players”, and Conflating Sports and Business Teams

Here’s an interesting and relatable piece on autistic candor, “team player”, and the problems with conflating sports teams with business teams.

On teams and “team player”:

The use of the word “player” evokes a range of unintended mental associations, mostly with sports, that are likely to create barriers for workplace access and success of autistic people, even if objectively they are exactly the “team players” organizations need. Unless we are in fact looking for partners in games, perhaps what we mean by “team player” is someone who is reliable, responsible, and committed.

I wonder how many responsible performers lost raises, promotions, or jobs because their personalities or even appearances did not evoke images associated with the word “player?”

Erroneous messages communicated by the word “player” and the related sports team analogy not only influence individual outcomes, but harm the bottom line of organizations by excluding potentially outstanding performers. It is a misconception that work teams are like sports teams.

Source: Thriving at Work While Autistic, Introverted, Shy, and Otherwise Different: Part 2 » NeuroClastic

I played twelve seasons of American football in football obsessed Texas. I cringe at sports metaphors for business teams.

On autistic candor:

the propensity of autistic people to be truth-tellers, divergent thinkers, and devil’s advocates who connect data dots in unique ways is invaluable in ensuring a diversity of perspectives, preventing groupthink and helping organizations make better decisions and increase their much-needed creativity and innovation. We need the Little Child and the truth-telling Princess on the team. Some might be tempted to silence and ignore divergent voices and instill uniformity, but the risk is that the Emperor will keep strutting around naked.

Even in “radical candor” environments, autistic candor is seen as not being a “team player”.

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