Radical Candor

Managing Successfully and Humanly

Bassem Elhawary
2 min readMar 6, 2022

This post is based on the summary of Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity.

source: https://www.radicalcandor.com/our-approach/

As a manager, your action can fall into 4 categories:

Ruinous Empathy

That’s when you care personally about your team member, but stay silent about something that needs improvement in them.

Manipulative Insincerity

That’s when you personally don’t give a shit about your direct report, and also stay silent about the issue between you and that person, but go and talk about it to other people instead. This destroys trust significantly, while we know that psychological safety is a very important feeling that you should give to your direct reports.

Obnoxious Aggression

That’s when you keep challenging your direct report openly and publicly, but you still don’t care about them personally. While this could be helping from your perspective, it could be damaging their self-esteem and the relationship between you and them.

Radical Candor

It’s when you care about them personally and at the same time, you challenge them directly. That’s where you should aim to be as a manager, to have a healthy relationship with your direct reports while having them achieve the desired outcome.

Whether we’re people who manage direct reports, or we’re product managers who lead their teams with influence instead of authority, we should care about these quadrants, and strive to stay in the most effective quadrant of caring personally and challenging directly. There we’ll succeed together and create a culture of openness and trust.

From a Product Manager’s Perspective

We don't manage people directly unless we’re leading less senior product managers. We usually lead our product teams with influence and we don’t have reporting authority over them, hence establishing this culture of psychological safety and challenge is very important.

In this recent Product School video, Irena Lam from Meta speaks about applying radical candor and why it’s important compared to other ways of working, and the culture that results from this.

This video could’ve been shared in a tweet or a LinkedIn post, I know. However, I thought that this video is worth bookmarking and keeping here, it explains with examples and nice visuals the four quadrants.

Enjoy, and if you found this useful feel free to spread the word 😉 ✌🏼

Watch the webinar on Youtube



Bassem Elhawary

I’m passionate about working with awesome teams on building kickass products. I write about my learnings & other stuff. https://www.linkedin.com/in/belhawary