Oliver Roick

Radical Candor

Notes on Radical Candor by Kim Scott

I don’t understand the hype around Radical Candor.

The novel idea is the radical-candor framework itself, the matrix between challenging directly and caring personally. The framework is useful to assess how leaders perform, and how others perceive their leadership. If you have read your share of leadership and management books, you will not learn much from this book. The recommendations following the framework revolve around building trust with your peers and reports and how to build a no-blame culture. It really could have been a blog post (I nicked this line from DDH: The books I read in 2019 - Signal v. Noise).

I was looking for a chapter discussing situations when managers slip from one quadrant on the framework to another, i.e., from “radical candor” to “obnoxiously aggressive,” why that happens and what you can do about it. It happened to me before, and I would love to learn from other people’s experiences. There could have been a discussion of the importance of personal resilience and emotional stability in this context, the role of executive leadership, and the effects on individual and team performance.

Instead, we get a series of stories from silicon-valley unicorns, constant name dropping, and references to the company Scott founded. The book sometimes reads like a 300-page ad quoting too many irrelevant testimonials.

Book details

Radical Candor by Kim Scott was published in 2017 by St. Martin's Press; ISBN 1529038340.