Stout Fuel Stop: 5 min read
What grows leadership? Embracing failure, feelings and feedback
From supporting side gigs to embracing failure, there’s a lot to love about Mailchimp’s company culture, and a recent MailChimp Coffee Hour with Kim Scott, author of bestseller “Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity” shows how they walk the talk of their motto “Listen Hard, Change Fast”.
Truth + Empathy
Kim Scott’s spark happened when her beloved dog ran in front of a car and a fellow walker told her that while it was clear she loved her dog, if she didn’t train it, she was going to get it killed. The stranger directed her dog to sit and told Scott “It’s not being mean. It’s being clear.” That truth delivered with empathy was the eye opening inspiration for her best-selling book Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity”.
Radical Candor is the ability to give feedback while also giving a damn about the person you’re saying it to.
Ready to get candid? We’ve got three actionable tips from Kim Scott’s talk and site that will help you use Radical Candor’s the powerful combination of caring and challenge to level up your leadership and life.
ACTION 1: Listen To Learn
Rather than see leadership as YOU teaching, adjust your mindset to listen with the belief that the people on your team have a lot to teach you. “Caring personally” in the Radical Candor scale means “listening to others carefully, getting to know them well enough to understand what motivates them and encouraging them do the best work of their lives”. Next-level leaders build success by helping team members take steps in the direction of their dreams.
ACTION 2: Show You Can Take It
Creating a culture of healthy feedback starts with leaders making acceptance of their own mistakes as visible as possible. Begin by soliciting feedback with the understanding that you might hear some difficult things. Be humble and ask “Is there anything I can do or stop doing that would make it easier to work with me?” Show your confidence in the process by addressing concerns without getting defensive.
Create an environment where everyone knows criticism is about helping each other do the best work of their careers.
And when you see someone else making a mistake? “Challenging Directly” is key on the Radical Candor scale, but you must convey the issue in a way that’s perfectly clear, while reassuring the person that you care and have confidence in their abilities. Giving and accepting constructive criticism is the stepping stone to a more productive team and workplace.
ACTION 3: Develop, Delegate and Praise
Understand your employees’ long term career aspirations-ask them “What do you see yourself doing when you are happy, challenged and not longing for anything else?” and then help them bring those dreams into focus by defining specifics (What’s the role? What’s the industry? What’s the size of company?). Once you know where they want to go, help them develop by providing opportunities in that direction.
Delegate some decision making to your team and really let go. You can’t level up as a manger if you act like an individual contributor. In fact, you are probably less likely to do as good a decision-making job as the people closer to details and actually executing the tasks. You’ll be surprised what they can deliver when you let them step up too.
Focus on the good stuff. Show your appreciation of a job, large or small, well-done and make sure you sing those praises publicly, sincerely and often. The more specific you can be about what was done and why it is fantastic, the better.
Praise is not about making someone feel good. Praise’s purpose is to show people what success looks like, what to do more of.
Ready for more radical?
Grab a copy of Kim Scott’s Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity to get more of what Sheryl Sandberg calls “…keen observational intelligence and analysis–that will help you be a better leader and create a more effective organization.”