A Trust Story – Radical Candor


In my daily posts on this site, if you dip in and out you may not sense an overarching theme. However, should you choose to get in the habit of reading daily, I hope it will be clear to you that my theme and passion is leadeship, and more particularly what I call #OpenLeadership.

So, what is this diagram about ? Radical candor.

Before I talk about this, let me link to some earlier posts :

  • Trust Equation – a few short years ago I was in a leadership role and I found that the combination of this formula and radical candor both fitted with my leadership style and also the way I see 21st century leadership. My post on this here.
  • Netflix Culture – yesterday I wrote about the Netflix culture, highlighting in that post the core of it, Context over Control. In addition, in the first page of their culture document, one of their five tenets is that they : “Are extraordinarily candid with each other”

So, to Radical Candor.

As the originator, Kim Scott puts it :

“Radical Candor really just means saying what you think while also giving a damn about the person you’re saying it to.”

Simple, really ?

I do love distilling to simplicity, and this 2×2 grid does this perfectly. Kim explains it as follows  :

One of the best ways to make Radical Candor easier is to remember what happens when you fail to Care Personally and Challenge Directly. We’ve named the quadrants colorfully to help you remember to move toward Radical Candor, but it’s key to remember that these are not labels for people; they refer to a particular interaction or behavior. Ultimately, everyone spends some time in each of the quadrants, and that’s ok.

Obnoxious Aggression™ is what happens when you challenge but don’t care. It’s praise that doesn’t feel sincere or criticism that isn’t delivered kindly.

Ruinous Empathy™ is what happens when you care but don’t challenge. It’s praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good or criticism that is sugarcoated and unclear.

Manipulative Insincerity™ is what happens when you neither care nor challenge. It’s praise that is non-specific and insincere or criticism that is neither clear nor kind.

For more on radical candor, visit Radical Candor.

Now consider the power of combining, at their highest level :

  • Context, not control
  • Trust
  • Radical Candor


Also published on Medium.

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