The Life Autistic: Somehow I Got Good at Team Building

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Ever end up looking back at a skill and wondering “How did I get good at this?”

After watching The Office for the grizzillionth time in a row, I’ve started to look for different layers within the show.

One of them is “Michael Scott managerial competencies” — you could argue that there aren’t many. But one skill stands out.

Good with names.

Like, unusually good. Names, details, ages, people — helpful in sales, helpful with people.

Sadly or unsadly, we share that similar skill.

When I got into organizational leadership, I tried my hardest to be relatable, to show that I cared about their details, about them. Because I did.

So after I got to know my team of supervisors, I learned more about them, their families, and all their kids and dogs. It became part of our common language, not just in my conversations with them, but with each other.

It got to where I could rattle off the names of:

—all 15 kids

—across six supervisors

—in descending order by age

That didn’t take too much effort with my *autistic superpowers* and all.

But getting names and details down led to something unexpected. So here’s a story:

We brought on a new team manager into the mix. She was a bit more reserved at first, but she soon picked up on our vibe. After a while, she felt more comfortable sharing a little bit more about the goings on in her life.

She’d say things like “Ok, taking my son off to wrestling” or “My oldest just won her cheer competition” — which was great, since she hadn’t really opened up to the team in our chat before.

Then, something changed.

Weeks later, she started changing the verbiage. Subtle, but substantial.

Instead of mentioning her kids generically, as she’d done for a while, she started using their names.

“Jimmy just won his latest match!” and “Amber’s feeling a lot better, thanks for asking.”

And me being me, I noticed.

In a later meeting, I brought it up with her. Turns out, it wasn’t accidental on her part.

And her reason was when I finally felt I got good at team building.

Because I wasn’t building a team.

She said: “Hunter, I feel like you’ve built a family here.” 




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