In this just-posted interview with Chuck Leddy, “Radical Candor” author Kim Scott explains how managers and leaders must do two things well: (1) care personally about people, and (2) challenge people directly when they make mistakes. Leaders do a disservice to their people and organizations when they are overly empathetic, choosing to be “nice” rather than challenging direct reports to do better work. They can also err on the “challenge” side when those challenged don't understand that the challenging comes from a place of caring. Such “challenge first” managers are seen as lacking empathy and being overly aggressive.
Leddy: What’s the best way for managers to begin using “radical candor”?
Scott: Managers have to get comfortable giving and receiving feedback that cares personally and challenges directly. They need both to care and to challenge. If managers are too nice, as I was with Bob, that’s ruinous empathy. They need to challenge more. If you challenge directly, but don’t show that you care personally, that can come across as aggression — so work on the caring part. Have more deep conversations with your people about their dreams and how you can support them in getting there.
Kim Scott Interview on “Radical Candor”