• Trevor Mitchell

Embracing Radical Candor!

One of the areas that I enjoy learning new philosophy and ideas from is reading books. In my busy life, and what I’m told by others is the same, I find myself challenged to read all of the things (books, magazines, etc.) that I want to. I then end up with a pile of books on my desk, staring at me as if I’m letting them down. My attempt to address this head-on is to actually read a book a month and share here some of the insights I plan to utilize from the reading. So let’s begin.


My first book is Radical Candor by Kim Scott. This book was given to me a year ago by my predecessor, peer, mentor, and friend Pam Donahoo when I started out as the next Executive Director/CEO of American Mensa and the Mensa Foundation. I don’t know why I didn’t read this at the time but recently came across it as I was packing my office as the organization was moving to a new location. It was then that I said, “I should read this.” And so I did. Here is what I learned.


Care Personally + Challenge Directly = Radical Candor

  • Care Personally is to give a damn, sharing more than just your work self, and encouraging everyone who reports to you to do the same.

  • Challenge Directly involves telling people when their work isn’t good enough.

  • Radial Candor is when you put care personally and challenge directly together.

Scott writes “When radical candor is encouraged and supported by the boss, communication flows, resentments that have festered come to the surface and get resolved, and people begin to love not just the work but whom they work with and where they work. When people love their job, the whole team is more successful. The resulting happiness is the success beyond success.”


This really resonated with me as I find myself challenged on when sharing personally is the right amount and being direct with people. I realized that I could be more successful in my role, and therefore a better leader for the staff and organization if I focused on these areas. In my mind, I thought I was clear but did I really take the opportunity to ensure that everyone else was. I was contributing to the issues I was trying to resolve by not being clear. At that point, I made a commitment to be direct. I want to clarify (see I’m practicing already) that being direct doesn’t have to be mean, it’s about being clear! Here are a few adjustments I’m trying to make:


  • I use knowledge of the staff Predictive Index behaviors to understand how to deliver that information in a manner that they will be open to receiving it.

  • I’ve found that I choose my words carefully in discussions and use the fewest words when possible.

  • I start those clarifying statements with “my expectation is . . .”.

I have already seen a change in the conversations and results that I’m getting with my adjusted approach. Apparently, the book goes into other various areas, and it is valuable. I’m sure I will implement those at some point. This was my key take away right now.


I look forward to seeing how radical candor will continue to influence the staff, organization and myself for the better down the road.




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