Pulse June 2017 - Page 28

CONVERSATIONS WITH KIM SCOTT BY KELLY HEITZ Being a good boss is hard. Knowing when to empathize with or encourage or reprimand your employees is a special skill. Kim Scott, former leader at Google and currently the cofounder of Candor, Inc., well-known CEO coach in Silicon Valley, and author of Radical Candor: Be A Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, has spent a career perfecting what being a “good boss” means. “I made a lot of mistakes early in my career as a manager; then I watched many, many other managers who worked for me make the same mistakes I’d made, and it felt like watching a slow-motion train wreck over and over again,” remembers Scott. “I want to help others avoid the mistakes I’ve made myself and have seen others make. I believe we don’t always have to learn through the school of hard knocks—telling stories can help us avoid the mistakes others have made.” And Radical Candor is full of stories and advice on using Scott’s mistakes to reflect on your actions as a manager. Her approach is funny, light-hearted and extremely helpful for anyone wishing to be the ultimate boss. In this month’s Conversations, we asked Scott about the lessons she learned as a Silicon Valley manager and why we all should be radically candid in the workplace. PULSE: What exactly is radical candor? P: How important it is to have a good boss? Scott: Radical Candor is the ability to show you care personally S: My experience is that having a bad boss is utterly debilitating. at the same time you challenge people directly. Care personally I once had a boss who was so belittling that I literally shrank half means that you care about the other person as a human being, an inch—my doctor was quite concerned. I’m only five feet tall not just as a professional. It’s about putting their and don’t have any height to lose. I’ve seen interests first, not about winning a popularity contest employees of bad bosses develop insomnia, full-body or being creepily personal. Challenge directly means rashes and depression. When you’re miserable five that you share your perspective and invite the other days a week at work, it’s really difficult to enjoy your person to do the same. It’s not about “telling the weekends. A bad boss can ruin your life. truth,” it’s about open, reciprocal communication. On the other hand, I have had great bosses like Radical Candor is NOT brutal honesty; that’s Sheryl Sandberg and Dick Costolo, both who’ve what I call Obnoxious Aggression—what happens helped me take a step in the direction of my dreams when you challenge directly but fail to show you care and live the life I imagined. I’d say that’s pretty personally. important! Scott’s book or get The whole point of Radical Candor is that it really Order more advice on being a great is possible to Care Personally and Challenge Directly boss at radicalcandor.com. P: Are there some people who just should not be at the same time. We can break free of a false dichotomy that bosses? Or does everyone have the potential to be a good leaves too many people feeling they must choose between being boss? a jerk and being incompetent. That’s a terrible choice, and S: If you don’t want the responsibility of being a boss, you nobody has to make it. In fact, if you really care personally about shouldn’t be required to take on this role to advance in your somebody, you will tell them if you think they are making a career. One of the best things that Google did was to create a mistake—and also, of course, when they are doing something great career path for people who were great engineers but had no great, that’s what makes a great boss. interest in managing people. 26 PULSE ■ June 2017