Radical candor

This post is the first in a series devoted to my reading notes and thoughts on the essays contained in The Culture Book, Volume 1. The first essay is by Kim Malone Scott, author of Radical Candor.

Your ability to build trust with your direct reports determines the quality of your team culture. Good relationships with your direct reports affect the relationships they have with theirs. An organization’s culture is built one supervisor at a time, starting at the top.

Managers have 3 responsibilities:

  1. To create a culture of guidance (praise and criticism)
  2. To understand what motivates each person on their team (why they work)
  3. To drive results collaboratively

How a manager fulfills these responsibilities will affect her relationships. And vice-versa. Do it well, and you build trust. Neglect it, and you destroy trust.

To practice radical candor you need to Care Personally and Challenge Directly. You must be willing to have uncomfortable conversations. Giving criticism, saying the hard things, is the duty of a leader and necessary for building a great culture. And remember that you can’t control other people’s emotions. Some will get emotional. The leader’s job is to meet emotion with compassion, to react with kindness.

And it’s a two-way street. Leaders create the space for direct reports to Challenge Directly as well. If direct reports believe it’s risky to share bad news, they’ll only share good news – or worse, make it up. When you invite criticism, remember not to get mad. Instead, get curious. Don’t run away from the discomfort. Try to understand how you can get better. Listen. And then, reward the candor by thanking your direct reports, by telling them what you will do about it, and by actually doing it.

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