The one sentence summary

Bosses can get what they want by saying what they mean – if they do it the right way.


  • Radical Candor means you have to care personally and challenge directly.
  • Challenging directly without caring personally is just obnoxious aggression.
  • Caring personally without challenging creates ruinous empathy.
  • Neither caring nor challenging leads to manipulative insincerity.
  • It is vital to understand what motivates each person on the team. To understand people better, you need to:
  1. Ask them for their life story
  2. Ask them what their dreams are
  3. Ask for their 18-month plan
  • Superstars are change agents, who are ambitious at work and want new opportunities. They are on a steep growth trajectory.
  • Rock stars prefer gradual growth. They are a force for stability, are ambitious outside of work or simply content in life, and are happy in their current role. Effective teams require both types of people.
  • The Get Stuff Done wheel shows how to do it without telling people what to do:
  • Listen: give the quiet ones a voice.
  • Clarify: create a safe space to nurture new ideas – they are fragile.
  • Debate: keep the conversation focused on ideas, not egos.
  • Decide: this is usually team consensus, not the job of the boss.
  • Persuade: use emotion, logic and credibility – see below.
  • Execute: “keep the dirt under your fingernails” – leaders should not be above executing things.
  • Learn: openly – avoid being in denial if the outcome was unexpected.
  • Then repeat the whole process again.


  • If you want to be persuasive, follow Aristotle’s elements of rhetoric – pathos, logos and ethos. These translate loosely to emotion, logic, and credibility. That’s the listener’s emotions, not the speaker’s, demonstrating expertise and humility, and showing your workings.
  • As a boss, work towards partnership. Avoid the extremes of absentee management and micromanagement.
  • Hands-on, ears on, mouth off is the mantra.


  • The origin of all this is Silicon Valley, so although the advice tries to suggest broad appeal, it remains pretty clinical and cut-throat. This may not suit all company cultures.