Everything starts from a place of relationships. This is true in every industry, but is perhaps most often ignored in a business setting. That is what makes Kim Scott’s book, Radical Candor such a worthwhile endeavor. Scott establishes the ways in which we owe it to one another to create working environments where we can be honest, transparent, and invested in each other’s success.
I’ve always been personally interested in the intersection between business and morality. So often, I find that we are put under the false impression that we have to choose whether to be kind or to be productive, whether to be fair or to be powerful. What I love about Radical Candor is that it demonstrates that the healthiest, kindest, AND most productive form of management can be both the right thing ethically and the right thing efficiently. I like the idea that a proper balance of caring personally and challenging directly can pay off profoundly to both get things done and also to centralize the way we treat one another.
I read the updated version that was revised for a new edition. And in the forward, Scott identifies for herself the biggest problem with the book: it is far too easy for misguided abusers to claim that their cruelty is candor. Unfortunately for Scott, if you miss the essential component of “caring personally,” radical candor quickly becomes antagonistic, aggressive, unproductive, and disrespectful. That isn’t to say that is what Scott intended; far from it. But Scott doesn’t get to control what happens when she puts the book out into the world, and it is hard to hold people accountable to the way they actually put this notion into practice.
All of that being said, this is an excellent way to critically assess the ways we can be productive teammates as well as compassionate ones. It asks questions that forces the reader to confront exactly how they interact with others and with their own work, and to do some introspection about how we like to be managed, as well as how we might most productively manage others.
There are a lot of business books out there. But this one reminds us that in order to get the most return on investment, we have to fully invest in the people who help us bring in the returns.