Radical Candor: Go read it!


I have a full plate at work these days, and not a lot of time to develop ideas for posts. So here is one I've been holding in reserve, just for you!

After leading a high-growth team at Google under Sheryl Sandberg, Kim Scott was invited to Apple to create the leadership development program at “Apple University.”  Her model and the ideas she formed at Google and then at Apple are the basis of her book Radical Candor. If you haven't read it, you should, especially if you manage a team. 

A simple framework
The book is mostly about the power of getting and giving feedback, and how to make it count. The framework is simple, exhorting leaders to “care personally” and “challenge directly” in redirecting and coaching their team members. 

She uses a four-quadrant diagram to explain the importance of balancing one with the other. If you care personally (which she shows on the vertical axis of her model) while challenging directly (along the horizontal axis), that's radical candor, in the "magic" upper-right quadrant. If you challenge directly but don't care personally, you are likely being obnoxious or aggressive (the lower right quadrant)/ If you care personally but don't challenge directly when delivering feedback, you're demonstrating "ruinous empathy;" that upper-left quadrant is not a kindness but the kiss of death for someone who is not delivering.

The model is as true for praise as it is for criticism, and Scott gives lots of plain-language examples and practical tips.

My own takeaway 
She offers lots of advice to leaders. She says they need to set the example of seeking and being open to feedback, and to be deliberate in creating a structure for feedback in their team meetings and one-on-ones. I hear lots of talk about servant leadership; this book shows you how.

Even though I don't currently lead a team, the single most powerful piece of advice I took from the book was the need for leaders to listen to criticism with the intent to understand, and not to respond—even if that means repeating and rephrasing the criticism for clarity if you find there's nothing about it you can agree with it in the moment. It's something I think everyone can put into practice. I know I have!

There was much more to the book that made it worth reading, and so you may see another post on it in the future. 

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