Book:  Radical Candor

Author:  Kim Scott

Purchase:  PrinteBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Scott, K. (2017). Radical candor : be a kick-ass boss without losing your humanity. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Three Big Takeaways:

  • When preparing to give criticism try not to think about it too much; if you think about it too much you're likely to wimp out and say nothing.  You should spend as much time thinking about how to praise someone as you do when you criticize someone. (pg. 36)

  • If someone on your team is having a personal issue, give them the time they need and don’t have them worry about work.  “Don’t count this as your vacation time, just take the time. We have you covered.” (pg. 73)

  • When you receive criticism whatever you do, don’t start criticizing the criticism.  Don’t start telling the other person they are wrong! Instead, repeat what the person said to make sure you’ve understood it, rather than defending yourself against the criticism you’ve just heard. Listen and clarify, but don’t try to debate...you’ll feel a strong urge to act defensively or at least explain yourself.  This is natural, but it pretty much will kill any chance that you’ll get criticism from that person again. (pg. 133)

Other Key Ideas:

  • No matter how supportive the environment, bosses often feel alone.  They feel ashamed they’re not doing a good job, sure that everyone else is doing better, and thus unable or afraid to seek help.  (pg. XIX)

  • You must care deeply about people while being prepared to be hated in return….being the boss can feel like a lonely one-way street at times - especially at first.  That is OK. If you can absorb the blows, the members of your team are more likely to be good bosses to their employees when they have them. (pg. 13)

  • You have to accept that sometimes people on your team will be mad at you.  In fact, if nobody is ever made at you, you probably aren’t challenging your team enough. The key is how you handle the anger. (pg. 14)

  • Positive feedback and praise needs to be specific, contextualized, and personal - must tell why you admire the person. (pg. 24)

  • Must not be afraid to give direct criticism to employees.  It is kinder in the long run to be direct, even if articulating criticism causes some momentary upset.  However, bosses shouldn’t belittle employees, embarrass them publicly, or freeze them out. (pg. 25)

  • Why should you ask people to criticize you: 1) It’s the best way to show that you are aware that you are often wrong and that you want to hear when you are; 2) You’ll learn a lot; 3) The more firsthand experience you have with how it feels to receive criticism, the better the idea you’ll have of how your own guidance lands for others, and 4) Asking for criticism is a great way to build trust and strengthen relationships. (pg. 34)

  • When somebody is performing poorly and, having received clear communication about the nature of the problem, is showing no signs of improvement, you must fire that person. (pg. 66)

  • Have you been crystal clear when you have challenged someone to improve?  Has your praise been substantive and specific about what they have done right?  Have you been humble as well as direct in your criticism, offering to help find solutions rather than attacking them as a person?  Have you done these things on multiple occasions over the course of time? If yes and you’ haven’t seen improvement, it’s time to let them go. (pg. 67)

  • When you hire someone who has never done a job before and they have to learn it from scratch, they sometimes take longer than expected to progress.  In these cases, ask yourself: are expectations clear enough? Is the training good enough? If you have not explained the role or the expectations clearly enough, you should invest more time to do so if you think the person can be good. (pg. 72)

  • Probably the most important thing you can do to build trust is to spend a little time along with each of your direct reports on a regular basis.  Holding regular 1:1s in which your direct report sets the agenda and you ask questions is a good way to begin building trust. (pg. 121)

  • When you become the boss it’s important to work hard to earn your team’s trust.  You may be worried about earning their respect, and that’s natural. Unfortunately, though, being overly focused on respect can backfire because it’ll make you feel extra defensive when criticized.  If, on the other hand, you can listen to the criticism and react well to it, both trust and respect will follow. (pg. 131)

  • The bigger the team, the more leverage you can get out of reacting well to criticism in public.  Too many managers fear that public challenge will undermine their authority.  It’s natural to want to repress dissent, but a good reaction to public criticism can be the very thing that establishes your credibility as a strong leader, and will help you build a culture of guidance.  (pg. 131)

  • Giving guidance as quickly and as informally as possible is essential but it takes discipline - both because our natural inclination to delay/avoid confrontation and because our days are already busy. If you wait too long to give guidance, everything about it gets harder. (pg. 140)

  • Giving constructive criticism right away in a minute or two, three at most, will take less time than scheduling a meeting for later - and it won’t stick around in your mind. (pg. 143)

  • Wasting people’s time is a cardinal sin for a boss. (pg. 164)

  • To understand a person’s growth trajectory, it’s important to have career conversations in which you get to know each of your direct reports better.  You should have these conversations with each person who reports directly to you.  (pg. 174)

  • The Board Director for the Dow Jones said he was astounded to find a thank-you note he’d written a decade earlier still stuck on the wall of an employee’s office.  Realizing how much it meant, he wish he’d written a lot more notes like that. (pg. 196)

  • One on one conversations are your must-do meetings - your single best opportunities to listen to the people on your team to make sure you understand their perspective on what’s working and what’s not working. (pg. 201)

  • One of the best CEO’s who was great a connecting with his whole company simply walked around.  Schedule an hour a week of walk-around time. Management by walking around is a tried-and-true technique. (pg. 219)

Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Jared Smith LLC.  Specializing in Leadership, Education, and Personal Growth.