Book: Radical Candor

I'd heard about Radical Candor (Amazon) a lot but was put off by some of the things I saw about gender differences. Two colleagues finally convinced me to read it.It's a more applied lens on the concepts in Leadership and Self-Deception, and similar core to it is seeing other colleagues as human beings. The framework of radical candor / obnoxious aggression / ruinous empathy is helpful – the two axes ("care personally" and "challenge directly") help push towards productive conversations.Some other helpful concepts that came up in the book:Growth. Not everyone is ambitious (all the time), and people are ambitious for different things. This is actually part of a healthy team.

  • Self care. I like that she makes this foundational. I've found it to be very true.
  • Getting to know you 1:1s. A series of 1:1s where you get to know someone's life story, ambitions and then tie it to their current work. Seems like an interesting idea, albeit a scary one (the life story!).

The chapter on gender is as bad as I feared – worse, even. It's more concerned with how men feel about gendered interactions than how women experience structural sexism. It caught me by surprise, because there's a lot of good up to that point and as I approached that chapter I realized it was really exciting to read a book on leadership by a woman (still a novelty) that addressed things like the likability gap. And then… an entire chapter of harmful nonsense.This leaves me conflicted on whether or not I recommend it. But I think it's worth reading critically – there are helpful concepts, but there is also some stuff that is very problematic and unlikely to help the goal of inclusive management.

Leave a Reply