Kim Scott is the author of the top management, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times bestseller, Radical Candor: Be a Kick-ass Boss Without Losing your Humanity, and Just Work: How to Root Out Bias, Prejudice, and Bullying to Build a Kick-ass Culture of Inclusivity.
Before writing, Scott started a diamond-cutting factory in Moscow and managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo. She was a CEO coach at major tech companies, including Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and other tech companies. The author also led AdSense, DoubleClick, and YouTube teams at Google and was a faculty member at Apple University.
Scott gathered leadership and management tactics from all these senior positions before writing her first book, The Radical Candor: Be a Kick-ass Boss Without Losing your Humanity.
The Radical Candor is a vital book on management that is heavy on being a good and functional leader.
Kim Scott has a reputation for being a highly successful manager. Her fame has grown since publishing the Radical Candor due to her radical management approach. The author now runs a master class series to impact the Radical Candor movement on persons in management who want to improve their performance.
Introduction To The Radical Candor
The Radical Candor: Be a Kick-ass Boss Without Losing your Humanity is a management book that encourages people in managerial positions to care personally for those under them yet challenge them directly.
Managers should get to know those who work under them and with them at a deeply personal and human level. They should also create a culture based on honesty and direct feedback on positive or negative progress noted in the firm.
The book is a framework where the reader can refer to understand their management hiccups and triumphs. Professionalism does not have to involve hostility. Instead, bringing humanity into the workspace helps build strong professional relationships.
Challenging directly is one of the best ways for managers to show they care about the worker’s welfare and the firm performance. The Radical Candor is a compass and framework for candid conversations.
Here are the key takeaways from the Radical Candor: Be a Kick-ass Boss Without Losing your Humanity:
StoryShot #1: Care Personally, Challenge Directly
Scott’s definition of Radical Candor is caring personally about your colleagues and those who work under you and challenging them directly. It is not enough to be fueled by work performance solely. Instead, you should take time to know your colleagues at a personal level.
Knowing colleagues at a personal level might go against the notion of separating personal life and professionalism; hence, direct challenging helps strike a balance. The Radical Candor is the fine art of combining caring personally and challenging directly for a proper work environment and professional relationships.
Combining caring personally and direct challenging contextualizes criticism, allowing you to care for the recipient at the human level. Radical Candor encourages transparent communication and helps the firm reach its goals faster and harmonically.
The Radical Candor framework is a conversation guide that shows three behavior categories of what Radical Candor is not, including:
Obnoxious aggression is an act of challenging someone directly with no empathy. Also referred to as front stabbing or brutal honesty, obnoxious aggression does not feel like sincere feedback since there are no signs of caring for someone directly, and the feedback is often not delivered kindly.
Manipulative Insincerity is a passive-aggressive behavior also known as political backstabbing. The behavior is recorded when you do not care personally or challenge your recipient directly. This is the worst kind of feedback fail, often a self-protective reaction to obnoxious aggression, and is associated with false flattery to a person’s face and harsh criticism behind their back.
Ruinous empathy is powered by personal care for the recipient and characterized by sugar-coated criticism or unclear feedback to avoid hurting the recipient. The behaviors spare the recipient’s short-term happiness and lack direct challenge.
Ruinous empathy may feel friendly and protective to the recipient but has long-term adverse effects, as there is no improvement from the recipient. The feedback or silence is the feedback that fails and might be unhelpful or damaging to the recipient and the professional relationship.
StoryShot #2: Great Leaders Lead Through Guidance
Giving meaningful feedback is hard, and all role players must always strive to give their best performances. To give constructive feedback, everyone needs to care personally for their colleagues and challenge them directly.
Feedback is critical for proper professional relationships, as it encourages free communication. You should give positive feedback to keep the employees motivated even when things are going great. Negative criticism is equally important, as everyone is reminded to check on their performance and improve on their weak points.
A leader leads by example. Start by asking for feedback from each role player before giving yours. Caring personally gives you enough grace to look at the feedback objectively and helps you understand each role player and their circumstances.
Asking for criticism builds trust, compounded by your relationship with your colleagues and those who work under you, guided by caring personally. The criticism makes you understand how it feels to receive feedback from a different view, so you become better and more empathetic at directly challenging others.
StoryShot #3: Emotional Presence Is Essential For Good Leadership
Building trusting relationships with transparent communication is the key to success in all areas dependent on human interaction. Good leadership requires emotional presence and is guided by clear guidance, teamwork, and overall results. These characteristics, in combination with deep, personal caring, are a firm foundation for trusting relationships.
In her previous ventures, Scott runs a diamond-cutting company in Moscow. She uses an example from her experience running the company to convince diamond cutters to leave their employer for her company. What lured most diamond-cutters to switch employers was that Scott offered personal care.
However, caring personally does not automatically fall in place. Barriers to caring personally include:
- Arrogance because you hold a position of more power or feel superior to your colleagues
- Inability or refusal to show vulnerability
- Obsession with the traditional belief that professionalism requires you to be quiet and draw restrictive boundaries
Caring personally goes beyond simple activities such as acknowledging a colleague’s birthday. It requires dedication and conscious time investment into understanding everyone involved, what motivates them, and any factors that might affect their relationship with others and productivity.
StoryShot #4: Put Deliberate Efforts Into Understanding Your Colleagues
No relationship thrives when the role players are offering the bare minimum. To understand your colleagues, you must understand how their jobs fit into their life goals. Different people are motivated by different things, depending on where their interests lie.
A firm’s main types of workers are divided into superstars or rock stars. Superstars are the employees with high ambitions and goals, while rock stars are happy with what they have and are not looking to be promoted further.
Rock stars are not inclined towards instant gratification but are the proverbial rocks that are stable and on a gradual growth trajectory. They are motivated by venture outside the roles in your firm and are content with what they have.
If you have a rock star holding a particular position, do not force growth on them– allow them to flourish in their comfort as long as they meet the firm goals. Each role player is on a personal journey, and every growth step should be a product of their deliberate effort, not something given to them forcefully.
As a leader, do not solely focus on the superstars and neglect the rock stars. Strive to know what every role player wants and shift talent management efforts to growth management. Candid conversations should not make the rock stars feel as inferior or be too plain and boring for the rock stars.
Make an effort to know each employee’s path and incorporate assessment tools to help them keep up with their goals. Tools such as quarterly check-ins will help the employees assess their goals, know their progress, and where they want to go.
Managers should be careful with assigning labels to the employees, such as ‘high performers. Instead, use Jared Smith’s classification terms such as “off quarter,” “solid quarter,” and “exceptional quarter” since it is very likely that one person can oscillate between the quarters occasionally.
StoryShot #5: Be Open To Criticism
Good leaders challenge their followers and are open to criticism to cultivate collaboration and strong relationships. Man is to error, but the capability of man to rectify and accept rectifications is the basis of everything respectable.
Open communication is key to healthy relationships, and direct challenge builds a collaborative culture in the workplace. Teamwork exists harmonically with open criticism. Challenging someone directly shows that you care about their welfare and the opportunity to grow in their respective spheres.
Accepting criticism with grace shows that you are not afraid of admitting your mistakes and are willing to work with others for personal and economic development. Most people are reluctant to challenge others because they are afraid it might result in conflict, but it is essential to acknowledge that sometimes the recipients might get mad at you.
Caring at a personal level and acknowledging all the emotions that might come with candid conversations helps build the truth necessary to give and receive criticism. The best way to ease the delivery of criticism is by addressing the issue authentically, directly addressing the issue and offering possible solutions, and building a relationship based on trust and respect with the recipient.
StoryShot #6: Learn Self-Compassion
Self-compassion and self-love is the act of extending the same grace and compassion we would give to someone we care about. Do not confuse self-compassion with self-pity and self-indulgence, which often lead to adverse outcomes.
You should look at your mistakes with understanding rather than self-doubt and criticism. Doing a few wrong things does not mean you are bad. Instead, you should acknowledge your mistakes and realize you have room to grow and learn from them. Blame the actions for any negative impacts instead of beating yourself down.
Make self-love a smooth journey by growing your confidence through journaling. Journaling makes it easier to manage difficult situations. Writing down traumatizing experiences and associated emotions helps you deal with anxiety, anger, emotional instability, and any other negative outcome of the experience. Counting your contribution at work and in the relationships instead of your blessings helps boost your confidence.
StoryShot #7: Use The Get Stuff Done (Gsd) Wheel Effectively
Drive performance and results with the GDS wheel for smooth and effective communication. Employees might get tired of getting instructions like commandments – the GDS wheel helps you categorize the instructions as a succession.
Using the GSD wheel, employees take each step after fulfilling the previous one, starting with listening, clarifying, debating, deciding, persuading, executing, learning, and back to listening.
The GSD helps you form a workplace culture where members listen to each other and consider the opinions of their counterparts without feeling overwhelmed. The cycle helps you forge a strong team as every member feels recognized and valuable in the decision-making and execution processes.
StoryShot #8: You Can Heal From Traumatic Experiences
It is possible to experience joy and live to your fullest even after going through extremely traumatic experiences. Do not be deeply engulfed in the negative implications of any traumatic experience you have gone through. Instead, pull yourself out of the trance and enjoy the things you love.
It is okay for you to be happy, even after a short period post-trauma. Relish in the things that bring you joy and strive to pursue them. Joy helps you build personal strength and resilience towards any future trauma.
Post-traumatic growth is part of the healing process, and it can manifest itself in five different ways:
- Forming deeper relationships
- Gaining appreciation
- Seeking the meaning of life
- Seeing unique possibilities
You might go through one of the ways or more, but you should not resist growth. Express gratitude for the things you have rather than grieving what you have lost. It is easier to pursue what you have and make you happier than to spend your time in grief about what you do not have.
StoryShot #9: Resilience Prepares You For Hardships Later In Life
Resilience brings forth success, happiness, and better health. Leaders, managers, and parents hold a leadership role in their respective communities and must lead on the path of resilience. When parents help their children build resilience, they prepare them for the struggles that might come later in life.
The four core pillars that help build resilience, include:
Resilient people have control of their ability to control and mold their lives into what they desire.
People in power must empower their juniors in the same way parents have the responsibility to help their children identify their strengths and nature. The learning environment should allow the individuals to be sad or happy without guilt, even when things are not entirely merry.
Strong, healthy relationships make the role players conscious of their worth. Children grow more resilient when they know they are recognized, cared for, and needed. Good parents listen to their children and value the feedback. Similarly, excellent leaders or managers acknowledge and respect feedback from those under them.
A growth mindset helps you learn from failure. Everyone copes better with hardships when they replace a fixed mindset with a growth mindset. A fixed mindset believes that you were born with certain unchangeable abilities and characteristics. A growth mindset appreciates every little move and praises efforts towards your goals.
StoryShot #10: Take As Much As You Give
All relationships thrive when all parties are involved. You need to give, get, and encourage positive and negative feedback for a healthy professional relationship. Feedback is one of the best ways to identify weak and strong points.
Having a radically candid relationship at work requires the manager to be open to criticism from the junior and vice versa. Criticizing your boss might be uncomfortable, but a caring personality will help you cross the bridge.
As a manager, encourage your juniors to give feedback by prompting them using phrases such as ‘is there anything I could do or stop doing regarding the subject at hand?’. This will open a discussion that will facilitate transparent communication between all the members.
The Radical Candor emphasizes the quality of honest communication with each other. In work and management, honest communication means balancing caring personally for your team members to communicate candidly and help everyone improve themselves.
Radical Candor helps all team members to form legitimate bonds and attain their best version at work. Some practices might be a struggle initially, but good intentions and caring personally for each other will ease the burden.
Listening to ideas from different role players, a systematic review of processes, and honest conversations promotes real motivation and growth within the firm.