Ruinous Empathy: The Problem With Caring Too Much
Management expert Kim Scott talks about her groundbreaking framework, which balances care for others with the willingness to challenge them directly.
Have you ever struggled to get your message across in the right way to someone else at work?
Have you worried about coming off as too harsh (or too timid)? Have you wanted to say something but held your tongue for fear of hurting someone's feelings?
If so, this episode of Crazy Good Turns is a must-listen.
Our guest, Kim Scott, is not just a wildly fascinating person who's held leadership positions at Google, served as an executive coach to multiple CEOs, and who once managed a pediatric clinic in war-torn Kosovo.
She is also the author of Radical Candor, a book that I believe hits on a profound truth.
Within the book, Kim offers a framework for separating productive feedback for others from what she calls "ruinous empathy."
Ruinous empathy is what happens when we worry excessively about someone's feelings. We fail to say what they need to hear in order to improve, grow, or change for the better.
When we do not invest sufficiently in others, and are unable to provide them with a candid point of view, we can wind up doing more damage to them - and others - in the process.
Therefore, Kim teaches you how to achieve "radical candor," or the art of caring personally for someone while also being willing to challenge them directly with necessary feedback.
As Kim explains, investing your thought and time into helping someone else improve is an important act of generosity. In our discussion, Kim shares how her approach can help you invest in others in an intentional and productive manner.
- How a dog led to the idea of radical candor (5:00)
- The management mistake Kim swore she'd never repeat (13:28)
- The feedback issue Frank keeps seeing, and Kim's suggestion to tackle it (20:18)
- How radical candor led to Kim's marriage (27:48)
FRANK BLAKE: Thank you, Kim. It is an absolute honor to have you on the podcast. Welcome.
KIM SCOTT: Thank you, Frank. The honor is mine. I really admire you as a leader, and I'm excited for this conversation.
FRANK BLAKE: So, I love founding stories, and at least I've heard one version of the founding story for Radical Candor.
I'm going to start with the question of did you eventually train your dog to sit?
KIM SCOTT: I did. Inspired by the stranger on the street of Manhattan who offered me some radical candor, my dog Belvedere did learn to sit.
FRANK BLAKE: So, for our listeners, would you rewind, give that founding story, and then maybe explain a little bit about yourself and Radical Candor?
KIM SCOTT: Sure.
So, the origin story of Radical Candor happened and this is important, it happened in the space and time it took a light to change on the street of Manhattan.
So, this does not have to take a long time. I had just gotten a new puppy and I adored this puppy. I loved her so much that I had never said a cross word to her. As a result, she was totally out of control.
So, I took her for a walk one night. She's jumping all over the place. She jumped into the street and I pulled her out of the path of a speeding taxicab in the nick of time.
I was standing on the street corner with my heart in my throat, because my dog had almost just died. This man, a perfect stranger, looked at me and he said, "I can tell you really love that dog."
was all he had to do to open me up to anything else he was going to say is just
to notice my humanity in the moment, but he said to me, "You're going to
kill that dog if you don't teach her to sit."
Then he pointed at the ground with this harsh gesture, and he said, "Sit." The dog sat.
I had no idea she even knew what that meant. I looked up at him in amazement, and he said to me, "It's not me. It's clear."
Then the light changed. He walked on leaving me with words to live by. I think this really struck me.
This moment really struck me as meaningful in part because I had just become a co-founder and CEO for the first time of a software startup.
I had gotten recently an article emailed to me from about 10 or 15 different people at the company. It was a small company.
article was about how people would rather have a boss who's a total jerk but
really competent than one who's really nice but incompetent.
I thought, "Are they sending me this because they think I'm a jerk or because they think I'm incompetent?"
Surely, those are not my two choices.
I had gone to business school.
I had learned exactly nothing about management at business school, but as I thought about it, one thing I had learned about at business school was a two-by-two framework.
thought about that incident with that guy, when he said to me, "I can tell
you really love that dog," he was showing me that he cared.
He was getting on the same side of the table with me.
Then when he said to me, "But you're going to kill that dog if you don't teach her to sit," that was a very direct challenge.
So, he was caring and challenging at the same time. That was what I came much later to think of as radical candor.
BLAKE: So, for our audience, and I love your book, I love the construct, I love
what you're teaching folks.
Would you summarize for people that two-by-two?
KIM SCOTT: Sure.
FRANK BLAKE: Particularly how you name each box, which I think is just brilliant.
SCOTT: I'm glad. Thank you, because it took me three months to come up with
My husband thought I had lost my mind because it was like word salad for a while.
So, if you think about the vertical line is labeled care personally and the horizontal line is labeled challenge directly.
In the upper right-hand quadrant where you always want to be, that's radical candor. It's useful to understand radical candor mostly by understanding what it's not.
So, sometimes we remember to challenge directly, but we forget to show that we care personally.
I call this obnoxious aggression. That's the bottom right-hand quadrant.
FRANK BLAKE: That's bottom right hand is obnoxious aggression.
SCOTT: In fact, in an early draft of the book, I labeled that the asshole
quadrant because it seemed more clear.
But I stopped doing that for a really important reason. I found that when I did that, people would use the two-by-two to start writing names and boxes.
I beg of your listeners, please don't use this framework that way. This is not another Myers-Briggs personality test.
Actually, Myers-Briggs was not intended as a personality test. People misused that too.
But anyway, don't use this to label people or to judge yourself. Use this as a compass to guide specific conversations with specific people to a better place.
So, if you find yourself in the obnoxious-aggression quadrant, try to move up on the care personally dimension.
problem is, I don't know about you, but for me, when I realize I've acted like
a jerk, it's not actually my instinct to move up on the care personally
Instead, it's my instinct to go the wrong way on challenge directly and then I wind up in the very worst place of all, manipulative insincerity.
That's the bottom left quadrant.
So, if obnoxious aggression is front stabbing, manipulative insincerity is backstabbing.
Manipulative insincerity is where passive-aggressive behavior, political behavior, all of the stuff that makes you work feel toxic.
FRANK BLAKE: I don't really care about you and I'm not going to tell you.
SCOTT: Yeah, exactly.
Sometimes to be fair, manipulative insincerity, people are afraid, legitimately afraid.
So, it's self-protective. But anyway, this is where the drama happens at work in obnoxious aggression and manipulative insincerity.
If you watch The Office, you're going to see a lot of episodes about these two behaviors, but these are not the most common mistakes that we make.
In my experience, and I'd love to hear about your experience, but in my experience, a vast majority of people make the vast majority of their mistakes in this last quadrant, in the upper left-hand quadrant, where they do remember to show that they care personally.
despite everything in our polarized world that you might read in the press or
on social media, most people are actually pretty nice people.
So, they do remember to show that they care personally, but they're so worried about not hurting someone's feelings that they fail to tell them something they'd be better off knowing in the long run.
This mistake, I call ruinous empathy.
That's what I really am determined to stamp out when I wrote Radical Candor, because I struggle with ruinous empathy and frankly, sometimes with manipulative insincerity myself.
BLAKE: To me, one of the great pleasures of your book, one of the great
pleasures of that construct is that it so immediately hits home and says, yes.
Not only do I see that across people, organizations, I see it across myself.
I could say there are instances where I am in each one of those boxes and I understand that radical candor, how hard it is to get there and how intentional and thoughtful you have to be to get there.
I'd love to talk a fair amount about the ruinous empathy, but maybe first some comments around radical candor and what you found people's willingness to take that on, some of the struggles with it, and what you found as you coach and lead teams.
SCOTT: I think the most common reason that we fail to be radically candid is
that we want to be nice to people.
I want people to want to be nice. That's a good thing. We don't want to lose that.
So, I think that the thing that really helped me, more than anything else, move towards radical candor.
So, let's assume that I'm over there in ruinous empathy.
The thing that helps me overcome, because I said it's fast, that conversation on the street corner was very fast, but it takes a lot of emotional discipline.
That for most of us is in short supply.
thing that helped me get over that hump was to tell a story about ruinous
empathy and what happened and to label that story.
That's what helped me move towards radical candor more than anything else. You want me to lay the story on you or you got another thing?
FRANK BLAKE: Yeah, no, that'd be fascinating. Let's get the story.
SCOTT: So here is the story.
I had just hired this guy and we'll call him Bob and I liked Bob a lot.
He was smart, he was funny, he was charming. One time we were at a manager-offsite and we were playing one of those endless get to know you games that everybody secretly hates.
Bob was the guy who had the courage to raise his hand and to say, "I can tell that everyone is really stressed out and I've got an idea, it'll be really fast."
Whatever his idea was, if it was fast, we were down with it.
He says, "This is really going to help us get to know each other." He said, "Let's just go around the table and confess what candy our parents used when potty training us."
Really weird, but really fast. Weirder yet everyone remembered.
for the next 10 months, every time there was a tense moment in a meeting, Bob
would whip out just the right piece of candy for the right person at the right
So, Bob brought a little levity to the office. One problem with Bob, he was doing terrible work.
I was so puzzled because he had this incredible resume.
I learned much later the problem was that Bob was smoking pot in the bathroom three times a day, which maybe explained all that candy that he had on hand, but I didn't know any of that at the time.
All I knew is that he would hand stuff into me and there was shame in his eyes. He knew it wasn't nearly good enough.
say something to him along the lines of, "Oh, Bob, this is a great start.
You're so awesome. We all love working with you. Maybe you can make it just a
little bit better," which of course he never did.
So, why did I do that? Part of it was truly ruinous empathy. I really did like Bob and I really didn't want to hurt his feelings.
But if I'm honest with myself, there was something more insidious going on as well, because Bob was popular and Bob was sensitive.
There was part of me that was afraid if I told Bob in no uncertain terms that his work wasn't nearly good enough, that he might get upset, even start to cry, and then everyone would think that I was a big you know what.
So, the part of me that was worried about my reputation as a leader was the manipulative insincerity part.
part of me that was worried about Bob's feelings, that was the ruinous empathy
This goes on for 10 months, and eventually, the inevitable happens.
I realize that if I don't fire Bob, I'm going to lose all my best performers.
Because not only have I been unfair to Bob, not telling him because I haven't given him time to fix it, I've been unfair to the whole team.
They're frustrated. Their deliverables are late because his deliverables are late.
They're not able to spend as much time on their work because they're having to redo his work, and the best performers are fed up.
They're going to go someplace where they can do their best work.
So, I sat down to have a conversation with Bob that I should have started, frankly, 10 months previously.
finished explaining to him where things stood, he pushed his chair back from
He looked me right in the eye and he said, "Why didn't you tell me?"
As that question is going around in my head with no good answer, he looked at me again and he said, "Why didn't anyone tell me? I thought you all cared about me."
Now I realized that by not telling Bob, thinking I was just being nice, I'm having to fire him as a result of it.
Not so nice after all.
It was one of the worst moments of my career. It was terrible for me.
It was much worse for Bob, it was bad for the whole team, and it was bad for our ability to get results. We weren't getting results as a result.
So, it was bad emotionally. It was bad practically.
was too late to save Bob, even Bob at this point agreed that he should go
because his reputation on the team was just shot.
All I could do really in the moment was make myself a very solemn promise that I would never make that mistake again and that I would do everything in my power to help other managers avoid making that mistake, because it is frankly the most common management mistake that people make.
So, what I love about that story and also the construct is that I thought you all liked me and therefore would invest in me with your views of how I'm doing.
I have long thought that that construct you set out is a framework of thinking about generosity.
It was one of the reasons, frankly, I was so thrilled to have you on this podcast, because our purpose is to celebrate people who do great things for others.
I think that's an essential thing that people do for others, is they help them succeed.
Sometimes, very often, the best way to help them succeed is you take some risk on your own shoulders by weighing in and saying, "Hey, this just isn't working, whatever it is."
SCOTT: I love that you said that.
I'm having this eureka moment, because for the last five years or six years, I have been talking about this as an investment.
It's not. It's an act of generosity.
That's a much better way to think about it than an investment, because as a leader, often it feels like a very lonely one-way street.
You're giving, you're giving, you're giving.
Yet that is also the joy of being a leader when you're able to take pleasure in other people's success, even if it doesn't help you in some practical way.
It's a big part of the joy of living, isn't it?
There's another topic, related topic, that I'd love to get your point of view on.
As I've told you, Kim and I had this conversation before we started the podcast, but I always reference your work.
I think it's terrific. I urge all of our listeners to buy your books and listen to your podcast because they're great.
What I have noticed in the last, what I'd say is post-pandemic, time period is the upper left-hand quadrant ruinous empathy now gets a lot more attention conceptually than the upper right-hand quadrant on radical candor.
that down to people struggling generationally and on both sides.
But the number of folks who've said to me, "Gosh, I have a very tough time. I feel like I'm working with people who really don't want candid feedback and affirmatively resist it."
I'm curious whether you're seeing that and whether you see that with the folks you work with.
Yeah. This is a really important question, I think, and I have a theory.
I hope you'll be radically candid in pushing back on my theory.
So, my theory is that it is the job of the younger generation and this has been true for all of human history, but it is the job of the younger generation to challenge the older generation.
So, when you are a leader, your main job is actually to solicit feedback before you give it and to act on it, to reward the candor.
Because when someone who's younger tells you something that you're doing wrong, points out a better way of doing things, that is an act of generosity on their part.
though it sometimes is delivered in a way that doesn't feel like that, yeah,
maybe it's delivered in an obnoxiously aggressive way or maybe it's delivered
in a self-righteous, shaming way.
But when you get that feedback, then it is your job not to criticize the criticism and the way it was delivered, but to listen to what you're being told.
It's my experience that when you do that, then the people who are working for you are wide open to feedback.
I developed these ideas for radical candor when I was working at Google and managing 700 recent college grads.
When I was hired at Google, I think I was older than almost everyone. I found it worked.
These young people who had recently graduated from college really craved the feedback. But I needed to earn the right to give it by listening to it before I gave it out.
This was an interesting place to be talking about empathy and compassion because I didn't really associate those traits with the military, but it turns out the military is better at teaching these things than just about anybody.
But I was at West Point and we were talking about leadership and followership and how important it is.
There's a lot of training on how to be a great leader. There's not nearly as much training on how to be a great follower.
responsibility of a follower is to give feedback to the leader, but that can
only be safe if the leader has created the conditions where it makes sense for
people to give them feedback, where it is received as a gift and not as something
to be punished.
So, it's the job of the leader to solicit feedback, the job of the follower to give feedback, and then they get to switch.
But as an order of operations, I think that's an interesting way to look at it.
I think there is something new, however, with this generation, which is the communication tools that it has at its disposal.
I think that there's more fear from leaders about giving feedback to their employees than I think was present even 10 years ago.
FRANK BLAKE: I think you've set out a very good framework for responding to that, but a related question is radical candor in the age of Zoom calls and remote work where there are any number of instances where something that you might have said in an office that would disappear and everybody is, "Okay, the person was grumpy or whatever on that day," now becomes-
KIM SCOTT: Part of the permanent record.
BLAKE: ... part of the permanent record.
It does have this impact of, wow, you got to be very careful about what I say and how I say it.
SCOTT: Yeah, it has a silencing impact.
I mean, I think that on a Zoom call, if you don't record the Zoom call, then it's just like any other meeting.
So, I think in general, it's a good idea not to record everything that you do. I know that sometimes someone can't be present, so you're tempted to record it.
I also think that the things that get in the way of these radical candor moments, because it's largely delivered in these impromptu conversations, the things that get in the way in person actually are the same things that get in the way in a hybrid or a remote world.
So, one of the most common reasons that people give for not being able to give feedback in the moment is that there isn't a moment.
You're scheduled back to back to back.
was true in person as well. I mean that's actually not a new problem. At least
I don't think so.
So, what I said in the book is you either need to create some slack time in your schedule and make all your hour long meetings 50 minutes and all your half an hour meetings 25 minutes.
So, that, A, there's time for feedback, but you also might need to go to the bathroom or get a cup of tea. Those things are important too.
But even then, even when I did that, there was a problem.
The problem was if I went up to someone at the end of the meeting and I said, "Will you walk back to my office with me?", it was like being summoned to the principal's office.
So, I would text the person and I would say, "Can you walk back to my office with me?"
do it towards the end of the meeting.
So, they weren't nervous the whole time and then we would walk. The same thing is true over Zoom.
If you notice something in a Zoom meeting that is problematic, you want to text the person towards the end of the Zoom meeting and say, "Can we hop on a call?"
There's a lot of evidence that shows that a phone call is better than a video call.
Actually, a phone call may be better than an in-person meeting.
So, if you're in person, I would say take a walk. Don't sit across from the table from each other because that can feel confrontational.
A video call has the same impact. We're not on the same side of the table. We're looking at each other.
So, pick up the phone and call the person in between your meetings. Just create these little spaces.
Remember that you want to praise in public, criticize in private, but there's also a fine line I think between criticism and debate.
Debate obviously has to happen in public and that's where the phenomenon that you're talking about can trip us up, because people are afraid, for example, to interrupt each other.
In particular, I find they're reluctant to interrupt women because men are afraid to interrupt.
But we have to have this give and take in our conversation. There's a fine line between being aware of the problem of interrupting too much and never interrupting.
BLAKE: Right, exactly.
I'm curious because it's such an obvious bridge to cross, whether people ask you, "Okay, I understand the construct in work, I can think about how I do this better in work" but the same concepts apply in personal life.
KIM SCOTT: Yeah, 100%.
FRANK BLAKE: How you think about that is when people say, "Kim, how should I translate these same concepts personally?"
I would not be married right now if it weren't for radical candor.
I'll tell you a story. I was just starting to date the man who's now my husband and I like to do yoga in the morning.
One morning I was doing yoga and he came and sat down on the couch and started reading the paper.
I had this moment where I didn't want to say anything because it seemed rude or whatever, but I was like, "I never want to see this person again."
Because I don't want someone in the room with me.
I was like, "Why can't I just tell him to go in the other room and read his paper?"
I did and then we were able to have another date.
So, I think yes, that's a long-winded way of saying yes, it applies in romantic relationships, it applies with life partners, it applies with kids.
ways, it's easier in our personal life.
It can be easier because it's easier for me to show my children and my husband that I care about them.
I can go up and give them a big old hug. They know that I love them, I hope.
So, in some ways, that makes it much easier, but I will also say all of us probably have a couple of long-standing relationships where - in the tech sector we talk about technical debt.
in our relationship, sometimes we develop feedback debt, and there's a mountain
of stuff to get through until you can have these impromptu two-minute
conversations like the guy on the street with my dog.
In those cases, you need maybe difficult conversations or you're having conversations that are going to feel more like a root canal.
You got to get through that in order to get to these two-minute impromptu radical candor conversations that are more like brushing and flossing.
That's like a root canal.
FRANK BLAKE: So, I want to go back for a second on your labeling of the four blocks, because I think it is so brilliant, but particularly ruinous empathy, because those aren't obvious terms to put together.
KIM SCOTT: Yes.
FRANK BLAKE: What got you to that term, and what were you seeing as the results of empathetic behavior that led you to that?
SCOTT: I mean, it would be interesting to pull up.
I have probably 1,000 different word combinations that I was trying.
One of them was cruel empathy, because it was accidentally, you weren't intending to be cruel.
Another one was like paralytic empathy, because sometimes I feel paralyzed.
I consider myself an empath. Sometimes my empathy can paralyze me, can prevent me from actually helping a person.
So, an extreme example is if you were to be purely empathetic, if you walk past someone and you saw them drowning and you're 100% empathetic, then you yourself can't breathe, then it's hard for you to help them.
So, those were some of the things that I was considering.
In fact, I really loved calling it cruel empathy.
husband gave me feedback. No, that's not right. He's an engineer and very
Because cruelty implies intention and obviously the intention is not there.
Then I was coaching Jack Dorsey when he was leading Square before he was also leading Twitter and he offered to read the book.
He looked at it and he said, "I will not read anything about cruel empathy. It sounds like a Harlequin..."
So, between my husband and Jack Dorsey, they convinced me to keep thinking.
Then I was debating this with another writer, Gretchen Rubin, who wrote The Happiness Project.
She just came out with a new book called The Five Senses, and I think she was the one who suggested ruinous empathy.
So, it took a lot of feedback. I was lucky. I had a lot of feedback from a lot of great thinkers about ruinous empathy.
FRANK BLAKE: The other phrase that comes up is a path to ruin. You're setting yourself up a path to ruin.
KIM SCOTT: Yes. I mean, I think if we go back to that Bob story.
FRANK BLAKE: The Bob story.
SCOTT: Not only was I ruining my relationship with Bob and ruining his
relationship with his colleagues and ruining his colleagues' experience at work
and therefore my relationship with the other people on my team, I was ruining
our ability to achieve the results that we were not able to execute on our
So, it was ruinous both to our relationships, but also to our results. It was a contributing factor in that startup's failure.
That was what I was trying to capture with the word ruinous. It was bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, all the way down.
BLAKE: It seemed to introduce a bit of a moral dimension to this as well as
So, it's not just what it does with the results. It is actually just, there is some obligation to the people we care about to actually tell them, "Hey, this isn't working very well."
SCOTT: Yeah. In fact, one of the things I say about radical candor is that if
you really care about your colleagues, it's your moral obligation to listen to
their feedback to you and also to give your feedback to them.
So, I think there's multiple different levels of this.
There's an emotional level, there's a moral level, and there's a practical level. They're all really important.
One doesn't detract from the other. They all feed on one another.
BLAKE: Well, I think, as I said, there's so much wisdom in your book and so
much practical advice.
It also leads to another question.
I look at your career and you've done a lot of different things from starting up a software company to working in Kosovo.
I mean, wow, just that, having a clinic in Kosovo, building a diamond cutting factory in Moscow. Is there a common theme that's running through here that drives this experience and wisdom?
SCOTT: I think that my whole business career in some aspects was just a giant
plan to subsidize my novel-writing habit, but I think all of it began probably
when I was about 10 years old.
I read "The Diary of Anne Frank. "
There's these things that happened to us as children - I made myself a very solemn promise that if I were ever in a situation where genocide was happening, that I wouldn't do nothing, that I wouldn't do nothing.
I think that is part of what led me to go to Kosovo, because this was in 1999 and it was right as NATO was bombing the Serbian position there.
Almost the whole population of Kosovo had fled the country and then they were coming back and that was the reason for the clinic.
wrestled with much more in my next book, but part of what was going on when I
made that promise to myself as a child was that I was white growing up in
There was real evil happening in the south. I mean, I was born in 1967, so things had gotten better, but the racial tension in Memphis was by no means resolved.
I think I was in denial about that was probably the real thing that was in my mind is how could we do such evil things?
I think that was part of why in college, I studied Russian literature and I was interested in preventing nuclear war, which that was the thing we were really afraid of then.
We didn't understand climate change.
think that it was important to me to understand… Humanity is so inspiring in
our ability when we collaborate.
There's no great thing we can't accomplish.
But also, when we seek to coerce one another, there's no horror we can't sink to and trying to understand what are the systems that we can create so we can do more of the inspirational things and fewer of the really horrible things is what was interesting to me about management.
I think it was these diamond cutters who I had to hire in Moscow, who taught me that that management was part of the solution there.
I had studied Russian literature. I knew nothing about business, and I was sent off to Moscow to hire these diamond cutters.
I was like, "Well, how hard could that be?"
FRANK BLAKE: I don't know, that sounds pretty challenging.
SCOTT: Business is easy. You pay people. The ruble was collapsing and the
dollar was strong.
So, I thought, "Oh, how hard could this be? I'm going to offer them 100 times their salary. Of course, they're going to take it," but they didn't take the job.
They said what they wanted was a picnic.
I was like, "Well, I can do a picnic too."
So, we're out in the outskirts of Moscow having this picnic and drinking a bottle of vodka.
time we get to the end of the bottle of vodka, I realized that the thing that I
had to offer, that the state where they had worked previously did not had to
offer was not money.
It was that I cared enough to get them and their families out if things went sideways in Moscow, in Russia.
As you can imagine, I've been thinking a lot about those folks since Russia invaded Ukraine.
BLAKE: Wow, that's fascinating.
Now, another personal question. So, your business is doing great.
I know you've got other people who work on your podcasts. I assume you've got a lot of people who work for you that do the training.
What do you now apply your time to?
SCOTT: I am working on a novel, and the novel is about the high school class of
Then it's going to fast forward to 2070 and they will have fixed everything. The reason I'm working on this novel is-
FRANK BLAKE: Oh, my gosh. You're an optimistic person.
SCOTT: Yes. Well, I grew up in the '70s and that was an optimistic decade.
My kids are growing up and I have twins who are 14 and they're not so optimistic about the future.
So, I think it was very useful. I think optimism is a very useful... I mean you want to be realistic as well, but I think it is important to have some optimism about the future.
So, that's what I'm trying to offer my children.
Then the other thing that I'm working on with the radical candor team is to figure out how to teach management.
I mentioned in passing that I went to business school and I learned nothing about management.
I think all of us had to learn the hard way, how to be a good boss, a good manager, a good leader.
talk about those three words.
The problem with that is that not only did I have to learn the hard way, Bob had to learn the hard way and my whole team had to learn the hard way.
My investors wound up losing a bunch of money because I was learning the hard way and the slow way.
So, I'm trying to think about what we could do differently to teach people faster.
I think to a certain extent, management is a learning by doing thing, but surely, we can help folks learn faster.
BLAKE: Well, I think that's absolutely true.
I'll be fascinated to hear what you come up with on that, because I do think it's a skillset that can be taught.
So, I always ask on the podcast, I always ask folks, what is a crazy good turn that someone did for you?
So other than the person on the street telling your dog to sit, what's a crazy good turn that someone has done for you, Kim?
SCOTT: Early in my career when I was working in Moscow, I was being paid
dramatically less than the men, my peers who are men. Not just 25% less, but
like 75% less, a lot less.
There was corporate housing there, because it was illegal for Americans to rent apartments.
It was grandiose. It was this mansion that had been built for the generals who won World War II.
So, it was a grandiose corporate.
Then the CEO decided that it was inappropriate, that Russia was a sexist society and it was inappropriate for a woman to live there.
So, he said, "Just go and get an illegal sublet in Moscow."
other things had happened that were dramatically unfair, but I was gaslit by
this whole thing.
There was another partner who pulled me aside and he just said, "It's not fair. I tried to fix it. I can't fix it, but it's not fair."
He was an upstander. He threw me a lifeline because I was sinking into this feeling of depression. Could I succeed in business as a woman?
So, I wrote a book called Just Work.
Part of the goal of that book is to help empower upstanders to stand up more often because they play such a vital role in creating better work environments.
FRANK BLAKE: That's fantastic. That is terrific. Do you keep in touch with him?
KIM SCOTT: I do. I do. We had a conversation a few months ago and I told him how grateful I was.
FRANK BLAKE: Does he even, I mean sometimes on those-
KIM SCOTT: No, he barely even remembered things.
BLAKE: It never even registered.
This is a great lesson for all of us, how things that you do can be so impactful to others and you don't even realize.
KIM SCOTT: I mean, I'm sure the man on the street doesn't remember either that incident.
FRANK BLAKE: Exactly.
KIM SCOTT: I think that's an inspiring note to end on about generosity.
FRANK BLAKE: Exactly.
KIM SCOTT: Just by noticing another person's humanity in the moment, that is an act of generosity that can change that person's life.
BLAKE: So well said. Brilliant.
Thank you so much, Kim, for your time. I urge everyone who listens to this podcast, go out and buy your books.
KIM SCOTT: Thank you.
FRANK BLAKE: Listen to your podcast. So, thank you.
KIM SCOTT: Thank you so much. Really enjoyed the conversation.
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