Great bosses retain talent and deliver superior results, while bad bosses do the opposite. This book explains how you can become a kickass boss to build sound relationships, achieve results, and create a better workplace. In this free Radical Candor summary, you’ll get an overview of the philosophy behind Radical Candor and the key tools and techniques that you can apply for better guidance, team-building and results.
Radical Candor: a New Management Philosophy
“Bosses” in this book refer generically to all supervisors, leaders and managers. After years of working with top companies in Silicon Valley (such as Google and Apple) and running her own businesses, Scott realized that what sets great bosses apart from bad ones is their ability to build good relationships that keep people happy and challenged. Scott calls this “Radical Candor”.
3 Keys to Excellence
Bosses achieve results not by doing everything themselves, but by guiding a team to do so. Thus, they must excel in their own work and 3 key areas:
• Guidance: soliciting and offering constructive feedback, and encouraging feedback between people;
• Team-building: putting the right people in the right roles and keeping them motivated; and
• Results: managing the people on your team to deliver results.
At the heart of all 3 roles is this: you need a trusting relationship with your direct reports.
2 Dimensions for Building Trust
Radical Candor is about building such trusting relationships by working concurrently on 2 dimensions:
• Care personally: Bring your whole self to work, and care about each of your team members as whole persons with lives and aspirations beyond their work.
• Challenge directly: Give/receive feedback, make tough decisions and uphold high standards. Eventually, trust and understanding is built and people feel safe to challenge one another to solve problems and uphold standards without your intervention.
In our full 15-page version of Radical Candor summary, you can (i) get more details on each of the 4 quadrants above (manipulative insincerity, ruinous empathy, obnoxious aggression and radical candor), (ii) debunk the myths about work/life separation or balance, and (iii) elaborate on the Radical Candor philosophy on guidance, team and results.
Practicing Radical Candor
In order to exercise Radical Candor, you must:
• Give people clear, honest feedback (be it a praise/criticism) for their benefit, and help them to understand how the feedback can help them to move toward their own goals and dreams.
• First understand your team members/ direct reports and what they truly want. Most of us tend to define ambition and potential in terms of people’s desire and ability to move up the hierarchy. Instead, it may be better to rethink ambition and potential in terms of growth. In any organization, you’ll find superstars and rock stars—Superstars want a steep growth trajectory with challenges and opportunities to grow and learn rapidly (though not necessarily get promoted), while rock stars are solid, love their work, are good at their craft and prefer a gradual growth trajectory (they won’t be happy if they’re promoted to other roles). You need both superstars and rock stars for a blend of growth and stability. In our full Radical Candor summary, we dive deeper int the concept of growth management and how exactly to use it to manage top performers (both rock stars and superstars), middle performers and underperformers.
• Drive results as a boss by getting people to achieve more collaboratively than individually on their own. Scott introduces the Get Stuff Done (GSD) wheel which comprises 7 sequential steps to involve your team in decisions and get buy-in for better long-term results: Listen, Clarify, Debate, Decide, Persuade, Execute and Learn. You can learn the details for each step, as well as how the GSD wheel works from our full Radical Candor summary.
Tools and Techniques
After explaining the management philosophy of the Radical Candor framework, Scott moves on to the specific tools and techniques you can use to build trusting relationships, provide guidance, improve team performance and drive results through collaboration.
There are several foundations to building trusting relationships: center yourself first, seek work-life integration (not balance), create the right environment for your team, and master your emotions. You can get more details on each of these components from the our complete 15-page version of Radical Candor summary.
Giving Guidance and Feedback
Scott explains how you can improve the effectiveness of your guidance/feedback, including:
• How to solicit feedback as a boss;
• How to give impromptu feedback effectively;
• How to tie in such informal feedback with formal performance appraisals; and
• How to encourage peer guidance; and
• How to do “skip-level meetings” to help your direct reports to become better bosses.
In our complete Radical Candor summary, we’ll break down each of the areas above into more specific, applicable tips. For example, one of the keys for giving impromptu feedback is to focus on helping people to move forward positively. To do that you can:
(i) Share your intention to lower defences, e.g. “I’m going to share an observation which I hope will help with your project. If I’m wrong, please feel free to tell me.”
(ii) Be specific. It’s more useful to say “she explained the problem and solution clearly in 5 minutes” than “she is brilliant.”
(iii) You don’t have to fix things yourself, e.g. to help a staff who stammers, you can suggest a speech coach or get their views.
Manage Your Team for Performance
To understand each of your direct reports personally and manage your team for high performance, Scott presents detailed tools and processes including: (a) holding career conversations to understand each of your direct reports’ ambitions, so you can to help them move toward their dreams, (b) creating a growth management plan for each direct report yearly, (c) tips for hiring the right people with the required skills and the team fit, (d) tips for firing people and (e) promoting and rewarding people. You can get a detailed overview of each item in our full version of Radical Candor summary.
To improve results with the GSD Wheel, Scott breaks down the different types of meetings/tools you can use to support collaboration along each step of the wheel. These include: 1:1 conversations, staff meetings, Big Debate meetings, Big Decision meetings, All-hands meetings, Thinking time, Execution time, Kanban Boards, Walk-arounds.
Getting the Most from “Radical Candor”
Radical Candor takes time and energy to implement, but the results can be massive, as new ideas emerge and problems get solved without your involvement as the boss. If you’d like to dive into the concepts above, do check out our full book summary bundle. This includes an infographic, 15-page text summary, and a 27-minute audio summary.
Scott ends off by outlining how you string the various processes and tools together to get started with Radical Candor. The book includes numerous other examples and detailed tips on the philosophy and techniques of applying Radical Candor. You can purchase the book here or check out more resources at radicalcandor.com.
About the Author of Radical Candor
Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity is written by Kim Scott: the co-founder and CEO of Candor, Inc. She has been an adviser at Dropbox, Kurbo, Qualtrics, Shyp, Twitter and several other tech companies. She was a member of the faculty at Apple University and before that led AdSense, YouTube and Doubleclick Online Sales and Operations at Google.
Previously, she was the co-founder and CEO of Juice Software, a collaboration start-up, and led business development at Delta Three and Capital Thinking. For more details, visit kimmalonescott.com.
Radical Candor Quotes
“Guidance, team, and results: these are the responsibilities of any boss.”
“If nobody is ever mad at you, you probably aren’t challenging your team enough.”
“To build a great team, you need to understand how each person’s job fits into their life goals.”
“Recreation is essential for creation.”
“Too many companies hire people for training whom they would never hire to do the actual job.”
“Part of getting a good job is leaving a bad one, or one that’s bad for you.”
“If you don’t know whether what you said was clear to the other person, you may as well not have said it.”
“It’s scary to move confidently in the direction of one’s dreams. Part of your responsibility as the boss is to help people find the courage to do just that.”
“Being ruthless about making sure your team has time to execute is one of the most important things you can do as a boss.”
“A team’s culture has an enormous impact on its results, and a leader’s personality has a huge impact on a team’s culture.”
Learn how to become a truly amazing, effective boss!