Leadership 101: Making the case for Radical Candor
At this point, one fact should be obvious: feedback runs the world. Whether it's people at work, products, startups, or even government - feedback remains the most powerful force of course correction/improvement.
However, it's also evident that feedback loops fail often - it's empirically clear that people, products, companies don't improve rapidly all the time.
Specifically on the topic of people, how they give/take feedback, and the reason why the feedback loop fails at the workplace: Without offering too much in the form of an explanation, allow me to simply postulate that this ultimately happens for one reason - The lack of feedback that is trusted entirely, trusted to be constructive, and consumable as-is.
Thankfully, there are good ways to remove this friction altogether in an organization, and I hope this post helps clarify that thinking/approach.
To explain the phrase: "Feedback that is trusted entirely, trusted to be constructive, and consumable as-is", there are two ingredients to this type of feedback:
- The who - Is the feedback delivered by a person who cares (personally) about the recipient deeply?
- The how - Is it direct, clear and brutally frank/honest?
Both matter, and both are critical.
For example: Feedback delivered in a brutally honest/harsh manner (the how) by a person who the recipient knows does not personally care about him/her (the who) is likely to be simply seen as aggression rather than real feedback. Similarly, softly delivered and less-than-honest feedback (the how) from a person that cares personally about the recipient (the who) is unlikely to be taken seriously, and acted upon.
i.e. The 'caring' before sharing feedback is critical, and delivering feedback fearlessly and honestly is critical.
ere's a handy framework (from Candor, Inc.) that has helped me a lot, and I know it is impeccable in its rationale:
Looping back to the core issue of "The lack of feedback that is trusted entirely, trusted to be constructive, and consumable as-is". To make this actionable:
- If you want feedback you can immediately act upon, speak to those who care about you and request them to be as direct as possible
- If you're providing feedback to someone at work, ensure you are direct/brutally honest, but not without ensuring they know you care.
I know I've said 'Feedback moves the world'. But in fact, what moves the world is feedback that is trusted entirely, trusted to be constructive, and consumable as-is. Radical Candor moves the world.
P.S: All credit to this philosophy/framework to Kim Scott (Candor, Inc.). I first read on the topic and started thinking about it more deeply after reading this article, shared by Jitha, General Partner at OperatorVC, and a startup thought leader.