Samantha Read
By Samantha Read on February 20, 2023

Leadership Styles & Their Pitfalls in the Learning & Development World

The Fine Art of Radical Candor in L&D 
When it comes to L&D, it's important for leaders to provide their team members with honest, actionable feedback. But let's be real here - nobody likes being told they're doing something wrong. That's where radical candor comes in. 
Radical candor, created by Kim Scott in her book "Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity," is all about being honest and straightforward with your team while also showing that you care about them. It's like a Jedi mind trick, but for management. It involves four key components: caring personally, challenging directly, clarifying expectations, and providing specific, actionable feedback. 
On the other hand, there's ruinous empathy. This is when you avoid giving constructive criticism or holding team members accountable in order to avoid hurting their feelings or causing conflict. Basically, it's the opposite of radical candor. It's like when your mum told you that your homemade macaroni card (obviously spray-painted gold) was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen (even though it was clearly just a bunch of glue and pasta on crumpled bent cardboard). It may feel good at that moment, but it's not helpful in the long run. 

Incorporating the principles of radical candor into an L&D program can create a culture of honesty and openness within an organisation, which can facilitate learning, improve team performance, and strengthen relationships between team members and leaders. So, the next time you're leading a training session, working on one of Ethical Angel's projects or providing feedback to a team member, remember to balance honesty and compassion in order to help your team succeed. 
So how do you avoid ruinous empathy and embrace radical candor in your L&D program? Here are a few tips: 
1) Make it a priority to care personally about your team members. Show an interest in their lives and well-being and be there to support them when they need it. The key part of this is it needs to be a genuine interest and concern – people see through insincerity. And if you're really feeling adventurous, bring them a coffee or bagel occasionally. It'll go a long way in terms of making them feel valued. 
2) Don't be afraid to challenge team members directly when it's necessary. Be specific and actionable in your feedback and provide guidance on how to improve. Just don't be a jerk about it. 
3) Clarify expectations with your team members. Set clear goals and objectives for learning and development and communicate those expectations clearly and consistently. This way, there won't be any confusion about what needs to be done. 
4) Provide specific, actionable feedback on a regular basis. This can help team members understand where they are excelling and where they need to improve. Just make sure to sugarcoat it a little bit - nobody likes a blunt delivery. 

By following these principles, you can create a culture of honesty and openness within your team, and help team members learn safely, improve greatly and grow significantly while also building strong, trusting relationships. Plus, you'll become the most beloved (and effective) team member/boss in the entire company plus respected. It's a win-win! 

The Fine Art of Avoiding Manipulative Insincerity and Obnoxious Aggression in L&D 
In an L&D setting, it's important to create a positive and productive learning environment for your team. But let's be real here again - nobody likes a sneaky, insincere leader, or a boss who is constantly yelling and being rude. So how do you avoid these negative behaviours? 
First up, there's manipulative insincerity. This is when you pretend to be genuine and sincere, while secretly acting in your own self-interest. It's like when your boss tells you they're "totally open to new ideas," but then ignores all your suggestions and does exactly what they wanted to do in the first place. Not cool. 
Then there's obnoxious aggression. This is when you're rude, abusive, or overbearing. It's like when your boss constantly interrupts you in meetings or takes credit for all your hard work. Nobody likes a boss who takes all the glory (and the doughnuts). 
To avoid these negative behaviours, it's important for leaders and trainers to model positive behaviour and set clear expectations for respectful and professional conduct. And if all else fails, just remember the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated. It's a simple but effective strategy. 
In addition, it's important to create a culture of open communication and transparency, where team members feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback. This can help to foster trust and collaboration within the team and create a positive learning environment where team members feel supported and respected. 
So, the next time you're leading a training session, working on a group project or providing feedback to your team, remember to keep it positive and avoid sneaky, insincere behaviour (and hogging all the doughnuts). Your team, and your conscience, will thank you. 

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Published by Samantha Read February 20, 2023
Samantha Read