Kim Scott explains what makes some teams thrive while others struggle. In a phrase: radical candor.

Actions You Can Take Right Now

  1. Always start a radical candor conversation by asking for feedback first. Have a go-to question like, “what can I do or stop doing to make it easier to work with me?” Embrace the discomfort. 
  2. There is a natural tendency when receiving feedback to start preparing your response. Intentionally try to listen for understanding first. Take your time, ask for clarifications and examples. Remember to be curious not furious. 
  3. Always reward candor. Be grateful and accept the feedback whether you agree with it or not. 
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Episode Highlights and Excerpts

  • Radical candor is radical because it is hard, and most people try to avoid difficult and uncomfortable conversations. 
  • The radical candor model is the combination of caring deeply and being direct. It comes from a place of sincerely wanting to help the other person improve by making sure they hear your message even if it is uncomfortable. 

  • There are four steps to soliciting feedback: 
    1. ASK for feedback before giving it to. Make your own question. Kim’s example is “What can I do or stop doing to make it easier to work with me?” Adjust the question for the person and the relationship you have with them. 
    2. WAIT. No matter how good the question, it is uncomfortable. But keep waiting. 
    3. LISTEN with the intent to understand. 
    4. REWARD the Candor. If you agree take action to fix the behavior. If you disagree, look for the 5-10% that you can agree with and start there. Then take the rest away and promise to reflect on it. 
  • Leaders should model the correct way to receive feedback by asking for it publicly and demonstrating humility and gratitude. A person providing difficult feedback is taking a risk in doing so. Make them and others observing feel that giving feedback is safe. 
  • Don’t forget to focus on the good things, the things we admire about people, along with the criticism. 
  • Be timely – providing difficult feedback gets more difficult the longer you wait. 
  • Have synchronous feedback conversations. Never provide it by message or email. 
  • When giving feedback use the Context – Observation – Results model. Never make judgements about personality or intent. Stick to the facts. 
  • Leaders should make sure that all managers are having one-on-one meetings with their direct reports at least weekly. They should also insist on ‘clean escalation,’ an approach where people need to talk directly with anyone they are having conflicts with and not speaking behind their backs or going around them to their bosses.
  • Radical candor begins with self-criticism. We must accept we are flawed before we can truly be open to constructive feedback from others. 

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Kim Scott

Kim Scott is the author of Just Work: Get *t Done Fast and Fair as well as Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity. She co-founded two companies that help organizations put the ideas in her books into practice. Kim was a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and other tech companies. Kim previously held leadership roles at Apple and Google. Earlier in her career Kim managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo and started a diamond-cutting factory in Moscow. 

Learn more about Kim's book Just Work here.

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If you are interested in the full conversation, or past Unleashed guests, you can find all the Unleashed content – blogs, video, podcasts – on our website here. 

Each episode of Unleashed is hosted by Results’ CEO Jeff Tetz who spends most of his life deeply caring for others, exploring what makes high performers tick, and helping people unleash their full potential. You’ll find Jeff  here on Twitter. 

Article by Tim O’Connor