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Radical Candor - Mark, Chapter Four

From “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott, Chapter 4:

If Mark hadn’t decided on these OKRs, what would you all have planned to do next quarter?

While Mark’s vision was inspiring, [one team member] felt it was unrealistic. […] They would be working 85 hours per week. […] He had badly underestimated the lag time in a system that made work less efficient than it should be.

While Mark’s proposed goals made sense in theory, his team knew there were major obstacles that made his plan impracticable.

He had dismissed those obstacles as mere implementation details.

Team leader Mark is making decisions without input from his team. The team feels like they don’t have any input, and when they provide Mark feedback he ignores it. The whole team is dejected during the presentation meeting - arms crossed, slouched, faces slumped. Mark is animated and enthusiastic and acts proud of his team.

I am writing here to highlight this because it reminds me of some recent examples I have experienced, and strongly of one situation in particular. I saw similar results. The team felt like they had been communicating the issues with the leader’s plan, but the leader was not hearing them. Eventually the team just stops telling the leader of the issues. If he’s going to ignore them, then what else can they do? In this example, one person started actively working against the leader (which I also felt was wrong).

Instead Mark should have remembered the steps of: listen, clarify, debate, decide.

Now - this is in a broader context in the book where the leader doesn’t act as the “decider”. I would not say that the leader should not act as the decider - in my experience people often expect the leader to make the decision… But the experts (the team) should be recommending a solution and you should be picking that recommended solution. If you are not picking the recommended solution, then you need to make sure you’re trying to win over the experts on the team.

Ultimately though, the leader is the decider. I think Kim’s point is really that you need to delegate decision making to the lowest level possible, and when you must retain it you need to take the advice of your experts. That’s what they’re there for. And I agree with this version of her point.