Building Air Quality July 2018

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How‘Radical Candor’ Can Guide Your Team to Success

profile (and high-stress) situation, but my ability to communicate clearly helped everything go smoothly and reduced problems for my client. I’ve been a Toastmaster for over two decades, though there was a brief period of time when I wasn’t a member. Another unusual incident involving a client soon convinced me to rejoin. I was called into a commercial building where a client was complaining about an odor coming from the carpets. Considering the carpets had been put in 18 months before, I thought this was strange. I ran some tests and determined there was a chemical compound in the air that shouldn’t have been there, but I couldn’t tell if it was emanating from the carpet, the carpet backing, or the glue that held the carpets to the floor. When I gave the building owner my report, he said, “Travis, if this was your building, what would you do?” I thought about it and said, “If it were my building, I would make sure it was all removed, and that the contractor who put it down took responsibility for whatever mistake was made.” Further investigation proved the contractor did in fact make a mistake. We learned that the glue that project called for would show blue fibers when held under red light, but the glue holding down the carpet had no such characteristics. The contractor ultimately admitted he didn’t use the glue he was supposed to, taking responsibility for the problem and removing any liability from my client. Would I have been able to articulate my thoughts so clearly without Toastmaster training? No, probably not. Being a member of Toastmasters International has given me a unique ability to effectively speak on behalf of my clients, address concerned occupants or parents in a way that won’t cause them to become more alarmed, and help ensure the best possible outcome while I’m doing my job. It’s an invaluable skill and one I’m proud to possess.

Leadership Expert Kim Scott’s Fantastic New Book

At the outset of our careers, when we’re learning to jockey for a position in the workforce and master the concepts that will carry us to success, many of us immediately begin to absorb the wrong kind of thinking. In the midst of youth, when our egos are paper-thin and we haven’t yet fully developed our personalities, business culture comes along and tells us to “be professional.”

“For an awful lot of people, that gets translated to mean ‘leave your emotions, leave your true identity, leave everything that is best about you … and come to work like some kind of robot,’” said Kim Scott, bestselling author of “Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity,” at a recent Qualtrics X4 event. But to be the best possible asset to your team, she argues that you need to genuinely care about others — you need to “be able to bring your whole self to work and to create the kind of environment in which everyone around you can do the same.” This ability to “Care Personally,”writes Scott in her book, is the first key principle leaders need to understand in order to succeed as bosses. Though movies about Wall Street may suggest otherwise, it’s difficult to succeed in today’s collaborative business world without genuinely investing yourself in meaningful relationships. But, as Scott is eager to point out, love alone won’t push your team to new heights. You also need to “Challenge Directly”— to be honest with those who depend on you by letting them know when they’re leaving their potential untapped or shirking their responsibilities. This “brutal honesty” doesn’t have to be brutal at all; instead, it should be direct, clear, and compassionate. At the intersection of “Care Personally” and “Challenge Directly” lies the concept of “Radical Candor,” a framework that allows bosses to build two things: an empowered culture of honest feedback around the office and a team that works well together and is eager to achieve fantastic results. If you’re interested in learning how to be a more effective leader but are uncomfortable with the manipulative strategies espoused in so much of business culture, you can’t do better than Kim Scott’s book. It’s chock-full of actionable advice on how to start treating your team not only as employees, but as people , with all the emotions, aspirations, challenges, and potential that they bring.

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