Strong leadership skills are essential for the success of any organization, but there is more to being a great manager than just giving orders. Published by author Kim Scott in 2017, Radical Candor discusses the various qualities that define strong managerial skills.
Some managers can be ruthlessly aggressive, while others are paragons of empathy. Radical Candor talks about a compromise between the two, whereby leaders create a culture of accountability by directly challenging their employees while guiding them with appropriate feedback.
No successful business leader can deny the importance of empathy when it comes to developing strong leadership skills. That said, being too empathetic can create a company culture that’s unmotivated and unproductive. In other words, too much empathy can lead to denial which, while an effective approach to avoid hurting people’s feelings, brings only short-term success.
Radical Candor discusses the importance of building strong relationships with your employees, and that brings humanity -- rather than business alone -- into the equation. Consider, for example, the fact that many people find phrases such as ‘let’s keep it professional’ or ‘don’t take it personally’ patronizing. That’s because they don’t refer to real conversations and relationships and instead create a barrier between leaders and their employees.
Good leadership is all about inspiring others to follow you, rather than just telling them what to do. Inspiring a team requires finding the sweet spot between empathy and strength. Focus too much on the latter, and people will feel estranged; focus on the former only, and people will be less likely to take you seriously.
Obnoxious aggression is the antithesis of ruinous empathy, as defined by the author of Radical Candor. This is what happens when you challenge a team without caring, as opposed to caring but not challenging. On the one hand, obnoxious aggression has proven time and again to create a toxic workplace environment, which is one of the commonest reasons for almost two-thirds of workers in the US being disengaged with their jobs. On the other hand, obnoxious aggression has also been proven to be more effective at driving results than weaker leadership methods.
While ruinous empathy might make a boss more likeable, and obnoxious aggression might drive results by creating a culture of fear, there’s another leadership style that is perhaps even worse than either of these. Manipulative insincerity is all about being fake by expressing empathy when you don’t mean it and avoiding the truth to gain an advantage. These are the cowardly leaders who may enjoy some personal gain in the short term but will eventually end up being exposed for what they really are.
The Fourth Option – Radical Candor
Realizing that insincerity has no place in successful leadership, Radical Candor offers a compromise between ruinous empathy and obnoxious aggression. On one side, it refers to caring about your goals and your relationships with your team while on the other, it’s about being bold enough to be direct with your employees when it comes to providing feedback. Honesty, ambition, and a goal-driven approach to leadership are among the fundamentals of being radically candid. That’s where our rock stars and superstars come in.
Kim Scott defines two types of successful leaders. For optimal performance, your business should have both. First, you have people who can drive change in your organization and identify opportunities. Driven by ambition, they’re the dreamers who propel your business forward, though they might not necessarily be managers as well. These are the superstars in your organization – those whom people look up to for inspiration and progressive ideas.
Second, every business also needs what Scott defines as a rock star. These are managerial personnel who are the most engaged with their jobs and able to lead through strong relationships and honesty. They’re the most focused on the task at hand, and they’re primarily interested in their area of expertise, rather than learning something new from scratch. By contrast, superstars always need new challenges and want to learn new things, including things outside their primary areas of expertise. Balancing stability and growth in your organization requires both leadership styles.
At F1 Solutions, we’ve discovered the perfect compromise between innovation and stability. That’s why we’re best equipped to help your company grow with technology guidance and services you can count on. Give us a call today if you’re ready to experience that difference.