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Radical Candor by Kim Scott


When it comes to work, do we really want to know what our co-workers think of us? The answer for Kim Scott in her book Radical Candor is yes. This book is full of guidance on how to function as a productive team. The bottom line in successful teams for her is to care personally and to challenge directly. If you care personally without challenging directly, this will lead to what she refers to as ruinous empathy. In other words, what good is caring about someone, if you don't ever say what needs to be said? If you neither care nor challenge, you demonstrate manipulative insincerity, and people can see through that instantly. If you challenge directly without caring, you display obnoxious aggression. Nobody wants to work for or with this person.

The challenge is to attempt radical candor, which is where you care and challenge. In this way, you produce an environment that is ideal for teamwork, growth, and accomplishment. The book goes on to explain ways that this can be achieved with personal examples sprinkled throughout. Overall, it was a good read, but focused a lot on the business world, which doesn't seem to always translate a small government office. The other work related book I read this year had a similar vibe.

There were some takeaways for me as a new manager:

  • Checking in with people is my job. Avoidance, whether intentional or not, is disastrous.
  • Praise is no good unless it is specific, and nobody knows what you're thinking until you say it.
  • Ask for feedback from others before you start dishing it out.
  • Keeping "dirt under your fingernails" is a very effective way of showing you care.
  • A manager should actively look for places to let go (choose battles). 
  • Always be wary of only getting good news -- it probably means you don't know the full story.
  • Listen
In case anyone is keeping track:
-I got this book at the Marion Public Library
-This book was recommended to me
-I read this as part of my two-person book club
-The book has a website

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