Being a better boss

10 things I learned from Radical Candor

Kim Scott’s great book “Radical Candor” really impacted my view of leadership and management in business. Her core message is that managers (or leaders, bosses, etc) need to both care personally about the people they work with, and be prepared to challenge them directly. Doing both will result in great work and real personal development, an doing one, or neither, will result in little or no change.

Here are 10 things I learned from Radical Candor:

  1. Kim Scott says “managers guide a team to deliver results”. To her, this means they are responsible creating a culture of guidance (i.e. coaching and feedback), keeping a team motivated to deliver, and driving results collaboratively.
  2. As a manager it’s important to both guide others and execute independently — managers should ensure they balance the two, and that one doesn’t subsume the other.
  3. Care personally and challenge directly. Managers should care about the people they work with as human beings — a key way managers can express this is by clearly telling others when their work is, and isn’t, good enough. Doing one but not the other, or (worse) neither, isn’t good for anyone.
  4. Great teams need people who are looking for stability (“rockstars”), and people who are looking for growth (“superstars”). Neither is better or worse than the other, and both need to be managed differently.
  5. One-to-one meetings are usually the best opportunity to build trust with direct reports.
  6. When providing feedback be helpful, humble, and do it in person. Give feedback that is immediate, clear, specific and complete. Clearly describe three things: the situation, the behavior, and the impact.
  7. Prove you can take negative feedback before giving it out to others. Ask: “is there anything I can do or stop doing to make it easier to work with me”.
  8. When receiving feedback, listen with the intent to understand, and not the intent to respond. Don’t criticise other people’s criticism.
  9. Don’t personalise negative feedback: “that’s wrong” not “you’re wrong”.
  10. When people debate, both the idea and the people come out better.

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