Kim Scott (@kimballscott) is a co-founder of Radical Candor, LLC and author of Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity.

What We Discuss with Kim Scott:

  • How the best lessons about management can be learned from our worst bosses.
  • Why the worst bosses aren’t necessarily the worst people in the world, and how relating to them as human beings makes challenging their bad decisions easier.
  • How then-Google executive Sheryl Sandberg changed an important aspect of Kim’s long-term career potential by caring personally, but challenging directly when spotting room for improvement.
  • The four quadrants of the Radical Candor framework.
  • How conscientious bosses can avoid promoting ruinous empathy, manipulative insincerity, and obnoxious aggression.
  • And much more…

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Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim ScottMaybe you’ve heard of a concept called “radical honesty,” where you basically tell people what you’re thinking no matter what, make no apologies, and say you’re being “authentic” — even though it usually makes you look like a jerk. Today, we’ll find a better balance between honesty and authenticity in our discussion with Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity.

In this episode, we’ll hear about how Kim found out what her boss really thought of her and her work when he accidentally CCed her on an email to her colleagues and how her response to this professional gaffe can help us in our own careers. We’ll also learn why most of us actually resist being honest with others around us — and why this is actually a disservice to the company, to that person, and to ourselves. We’ll also discover how we can be radically candid with people who are not only our subordinates, but also those who might be above us in the hierarchy. The formula and techniques we’ll hear about today will help us view honesty, candor, and empathy in a totally different way. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

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“So much of what we learn about management,” says Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity author Kim Scott, “we learn from the worst boss we ever had.”

Before Kim became a boss in her own right, she served under enough bosses to figure out which ones were genuinely bad and which ones were genuinely good.

Bad: The one who ranted about her job performance in emails to colleagues (one of which was accidentally CCed to her) and made her lose an inch of physical height from the stress he generated and passed along to his staff.

“Working with a bad boss really has a big impact,” says Kim. “It hurts your ability to get enough sleep. It hurts your ability to feel good about yourself.”

Good: Sheryl Sandberg when she, during her time at Google, gave Kim some very meaningful notes about her presentation skills that changed the course of her career: “When you say ‘um’ every third word, it makes you sound stupid.”

“Some people might say it was mean of Sheryl to say I sounded stupid,” says Kim, “but if she hadn’t said it to me just that way using just those words, I never would have gone to see the speech coach. I realized that she was not exaggerating — I literally said ‘um’ every third word. And this was news to me. I had been giving presentations for my entire career! I had raised millions of dollars for a startup giving presentations. I thought I was pretty good at it. And now, all of a sudden, I felt like I had been walking through my entire career with a giant hunk of spinach between my teeth and nobody had had the common courtesy to tell me it was there!”

Note that Sheryl didn’t say that Kim was stupid, but that her actions made her sound stupid. She was as exactly as blunt as she needed to be, and she only took this approach when it was clear that Kim was resistant Sheryl’s suggestion to send her to a speech coach on Google’s dime.

What was it about Sheryl that made it easy for her to be so honest, and why had no one else been this honest before? Two things: Sheryl cared about Kim as an employee, but also as a human being. This was radical candor. This was caring personally and challenging directly.

Kim stresses that just because somebody’s a bad boss doesn’t automatically mean they’re a bad person. In fact, she wrote Radical Candor in order to guide good people away from becoming bad bosses.

“The point of Radical Candor is the right response is to challenge it directly, but also in a way that shows you see that other person as another human being.”

Radical Candor Quadrant

Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about what sets radical candor apart from ruinous empathy, manipulative insincerity, and obnoxious aggression; the real reason most of us are hesitant to challenge others even when it’s the right thing to do; what Kim thinks of the compliment sandwich; the similarities between praise and criticism; what loud listening is; and much more.


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