We’ve learned through authors such as Mark Crowley that engagement in the workplace has been flat for about thirty years. Maybe old habits don’t die at all. Maybe we just need a fresh way of looking at things. In Kim Scott’s refreshing book Radical Candor, she challenges the classical Nine-Box Matrix Talent Model, developed by McKinsey, which positions individuals into a box based on potential and performance. Scott’s a deep thinker, and found she didn’t like using the word potential, because she doesn’t think there is any such thing as a low-potential human being. It says a lot about her.
Scott has been successful at top companies such as Google and Apple — very competitive and very successful organizations. So it’s not a big surprise that for the first twenty years of her career, it NEVER occurred to her that some people didn’t want the next, bigger job. She talked with Scott Forstall, who built the iOS team working directly for Steve Jobs, and he proposed using the word “growth” instead of “potential.” It’s brilliant.
Recall in our Energize2Lead (E2L) workshops we learn than 75% of people are wired completely differently that ourselves. We also learn that there may be deep, instinctive parts of our personalities that are largely hidden. Scott realized the same thing. She tells us:
“The most important thing you can do for your team collectively is to understand what growth trajectory each person wants to be on at a given time and whether that matches the needs and opportunities of the team. To do that, you are going to have to get to know each of your direct reports at a personal level. It’s also going to require you to have some of the hardest conversations you’ll ever have. Sometimes, you’ll even have to fire people.”
That’s Radical Candor. Leadership is hard. Building a team is hard. Leaders Understand Team Members Personally.