Are you familiar with the concept of ‘Radical Candor™’? Radical Candor™ is “Caring Personally while Challenging Directly. At its core, “Radical Candor is guidance and feedback that’s both kind and clear, specific and sincere.”
Andrea Kayal—the Chief Marketing Officer of Electric—uses Radical Candor when she goes over her team’s OKRs (objectives and key results). She runs through OKRs with her team every quarter. So what does the process look like?
Andrea writes the OKRs on a whiteboard and says “If anybody doesn’t think that these are the right things to hit our business goals, speak up and challenge your peer.” The hope is that it creates more discussion and leads to innovation.
But what do you do when someone seizes the opportunity to be a jerk? Radical Candor points out on their website that “Saying ‘In the spirit of radical candor’ while acting like a jerk still means you’re acting like a jerk.”
When someone is being a jerk, they’re coming from a place of ‘Manipulative Insincerity™’ or ‘Obnoxious Aggression™’. These people are challenging directly—but not caring personally. Andrea points out that we ALL know plenty of those people.
How do you avoid being a jerk?
It’s simple—you have to Care Personally. Andrea points out that you have to demonstrate consistently that you enjoy working with your team and that you aren’t a jerk at your core. Andrea challenges directly all the time, but her team knows she deeply cares.
You have to lead with Care Personally over everything because otherwise—what’s the point of challenging? If you don’t care you ARE being indifferent and you ARE being a jerk. And it’s not just about the leader of the marketing team. You’re calling the team to do the same thing—with each other and with you. It takes a lot of work and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Working with the wallflowers and the challengers
It’s no secret that it’s uncomfortable to push each other. But it’s Andrea’s job to drive the conversation. She’ll encourage her team to challenge each other, ask questions, and voice their true opinions by asking “Is this the right path? Or are you just letting them off?”
But how do you handle the people who are wallflowers? The people who hesitate to voice their opinion because of how it will be received? Andrea’s answer is that you have to make a safe space for that person. There can’t be retribution or mockery for sharing their opinion.
It all comes back to the foundation: You have to Care Personally. You’re never going to get better if you don’t challenge each other to be better. It’s a continuous process that takes hard work to embrace—but it drives radical results. How?
Create Goals with Radical Candor as the backstop
Andrea emphasizes that you HAVE to read the book Radical Candor. Then work to create goals with your team with the Radical Candor philosophy as the backstop. Andrea states that “Creating fantastic goals for your team with radical candor as the backstop just really accelerates your ability to be creative and take risks. It’s okay if things don’t work out.”
If you have enough data to back up what you want to test and know why you’re making the recommendation (and know how it’s performing)—go for it. Don’t be afraid to make a recommendation as long as you can back it up. You’re in that position for a reason.
Radical Candor helps you lead with accountability, results, and courage. To hear more of Andrea’s thoughts on Radical Candor and why she believes so strongly in data-driven marketing, listen to episode #3 of the Content Callout podcast!