Radical Candor: Building leadership with sincerity and empathy.

3 min

re.set - Training

Many organizations want to change their current models to be more agile and they do it by adopting Agile Methodology techniques. It’s a big step, and with big steps there are also big stumbles; in all our accompaniments we repeat that there’s no real transformation without the methodology being accompanied by a cultural shift.

To obtain results and earn the Business Agility "medal", you must also be willing to transform your leadership and communication models. It’s not just a matter of changing the way we work from an old mentality; it requires a change of mentality that generates not only new work models, but also new ways of relating both from leaders to teams and between the teams themselves.

The communication firm Edelman says that the failure of leadership has led to a lack of trust by default, however they point out that while honesty is one of the most valued qualities in leaders, not even 25% of them are perceived as honest. It’s in this context where Radical Candor, as a new model of leadership and communication, can offer the keys to restore trust and establish a relationship between leaders and teams more in line with Business Agility.

What is Radical Candor?

This term, coined by Kim Scott, refers to a new model of leadership and communication, whose main thesis is that leaders must be honest and direct, without forgetting the emotional well-being of their workforce.

This combination of honesty and empathy leads to clear and sincere communication, which does not neglect the understanding and analysis of the circumstances surrounding the work performance of a person or team.

In a previous article we talked about the importance of establishing CFR (Conversation, Feedback & Recognition) policies that give context and analyze the achievement of results. OKRs establish clear and measurable objectives, CFRs are the set of interactions within the organization; stemming from there Radical Candor defines the way in which leaders should interact with their workforce. As you can see, real change cannot be achieved without taking into account all the factors that make it happen. To transform, it’s not enough to move a piece, you have to design a new puzzle.

Challenge, Honesty and Empathy, the Cornerstones of Radical Candor.

Honesty is the foundation on which the most lasting relationships are built, and the work environment is no exception. A leader must build a relationship and an environment where there is openness, challenges and understanding.

Like a house of cards, for feedback to be consistent and not collapse, it must be based on three principles: honesty, challenge and empathy.

Let's not forget that feedback must be bidirectional, it’s a very powerful tool to measure work efficiency and take the pulse of the company's culture and the way it relates to others; but for this to happen, it’s not only necessary to give feedback, but also to be willing to receive it.


Honesty involves being sincere and transparent when giving constructive feedback, regardless of if it’s positive or negative. Fear of a person's or team's response cannot be an impediment to honesty, or work results will suffer and leaders will lose their credibility.

Let's not forget that feedback is to the work, not to the person, it isn’t about "congratulating" or "scolding" but it is about assessing progress and specifying what needs to be continued or changed to achieve objectives.

It’s about giving direct feedback in order to address problems and opportunities in the most efficient way possible. However, honesty should not be confused with ruthlessness or disrespect, and this is where we link to another principle, empathy.


Empathy leads you to take into account the circumstances surrounding the person or team, assessing the impediments and difficulties that hinder the achievement of objectives. Good feedback doesn’t ridicule or demotivate, but rather encourages the pursuit of maximum potential and this brings us to the third principle, challenge.


This is another important element to drive the growth and development of the person or team to whom feedback is given. It must be constructive, collaborative and realistic, with achievable goals that promote continuous improvement.

The most respected leaders are always recognized for their good reputation, their honesty and their capacity for attention and understanding. Precisely the definition of Radical Candor. Having trouble changing the culture of your company? We can help you change, indeed, with honesty and empathy.

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