Leadership book “Radical Candor” a must-read

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Beth's Book of the Week, Radical Candor by Kim Scott

I just finished reading “Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity” by Kim Scott. This book is empowering, insightful, and inspiring and it may change your life as a leader.

Leaders must balance employees’ needs with their organization’s goals. Scott distills her advice on how to do this into two concepts  – Care Personally and Challenge Directly.

Her book explains how to use caring and challenging to achieve innovative thinking, collaboration, and professional development.

What led Scott to her leadership approach

Before starting her coaching company, Scott was an executive at Google and Apple. She learned by trial and error and eventually developed her Radical Candor management philosophy.

“At its core, Radical Candor is guidance and feedback that’s both kind and clear, specific and sincere,” Scott says on the Radical Candor website, “Eighty-five percent of managers say the feedback they’re giving is not effective.”

In 37 years of professional experience, I’ve been part of teams where people were afraid to speak in meetings; others were too angry to speak in meetings. I’ve made some bad hires and let some good folks get away. Scott has solutions to those problems and many more.

Scott recommends developing strong personal relationships with your team. Know what is important to them, help them achieve their goals, and be flexible. One chapter describes how individuals’ goals differ at various stages of their lives. Scott describes team members are Solid Rocks and Rock Stars. Those who are consistent and reliable are Solid Rocks. Rock Stars are high achievers focused on exceeding goals and moving up. A parent with a young child may be a Solid Rock during their parenting years then move to Rock Stars when they are ready to put more focus on work.

Scott is not a big fan of company parties and getting together after work. (She’s the mother of twins, like me, and wanted to spend her time wisely while they were young!) She recommends we show we care personally in the interactions that occur on the job.

“This can as simple as showing enough vulnerability to admit when you’re having a bad day and creating a safe place for others to do the same,” Scott says.

I love the concept of creating safety at work because I believe it is our imperative to support one another no matter where we are. Scott describes how to do that in meetings, one-on-ones, and in writing.

Leadership improves when you are candid

Giving candid criticism also supports your team. Most people want to do better. They want to learn from you. When you have a relationship in which they know you care personally about them, they will accept your challenges to their thinking.

“In order to succeed, you have to Challenge Directly,” Scott says. “It does not mean that whatever you think is the truth; it means you share your (humble) opinions directly.”

This book is a bestseller and now there are study group guides, an e-course, and many other resources available. Check them out.

I have to give a shoutout to Amy Porterfield for sharing her favorite books, including “Radical Candor,” on her podcast celebrating her 400th show. That’s where I heard about it. I’m paying it forward here.

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St. Louis marketing and pr executive beth hammock combine creativity, storytelling, and strategic thinking to help businesses achieve more in today’s digital-first marketplace.

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