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Home » How To Lead With Radical Candor: Kim Scott (Transcript)

How To Lead With Radical Candor: Kim Scott (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript and summary of Kim Scott’s talk titled “How To Lead With Radical Candor” at TEDxPortland conference.

In this TEDx talk, author Kim Scott discusses the concept of leading with radical candor, which involves caring for and challenging others at the same time. She shares how obnoxious aggression, a type of toxic behavior, is inefficient and leads to manipulative insincerity.

Listen to the audio version here:


How can you all say what you mean without being mean? I started thinking about this back in 1999. I had started a software company, and I came into the office one day. And about half the people in the company had sent me the same article about how everyone would rather have a boss who is really mean but competent, a total jerk but competent, than one who is really nice but incompetent.

And I thought, gosh, are they sending me this because they think I’m a jerk or because they think I’m incompetent? And surely those are not my only two choices.

Now, I went to business school, and there I learned exactly nothing about management. But I did learn one really important thing. All of life’s hardest problems can be solved with a good two-by-two framework.

So that is how I started thinking about this problem. I was unwilling to let go of my desire to show that I cared personally. That is what, for me, gave work meaning, but I also had to learn how to challenge directly. And I had to learn how to do both at the same time.

And over time, I came to think about caring and challenging at the same time as radical candor. Now, the easiest way to understand what radical candor is, is to think about what happens when we mess up on one dimension or another, as we are all bound to do from time to time. Sometimes we remember to challenge directly, but we forget to show that we care personally. And this I call obnoxious aggression.

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