It's been drawn to my attention that my series of writings on critics is very timely: there is a wide adoption of criticism within companies at the moment under the banner of radical candour, front stabbing and mokita (a Papua New Guinean word meaning “ that which everyone knows but no one speaks”). In essence of course this is still the same good old criticism but rebranded to sound sexy and fresh…

Kim Scott, a former Google employee shows how criticism or radical candour works when it comes from a place of personal caring as well as direct speaking. She uses a johari window to illustrate this, where the opposite quadrant ie. Not caring and not speaking directly, becomes one of insidious manipulation- and insincerity. When you care but don't challenge- the traditional model of the nice manager perhaps- that becomes ruinous empathy, while challenge without care becomes obnoxious.

Strictly speaking then this all comes down to trust, respect, love and empowerment: four critical aspects of relationship building anywhere and in any workplace, be that a big or small office, a school or a home. As a coach and in my community chaplaincy work my buzz words – what I try to do always– is to “love, empower, validate and reframe”. That's it. It's always kind but quite often not sugar coated “nice”. And it is such a powerful recipe….

So try it: what is it that you are tiptoeing around and not speaking? Just be prepared though because someone else will hopefully engage with you and speak their truth back to you, and just perhaps their perspective will reframe and stretch your world view to make it just a little bit bigger and more diverse than you thought it was.

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Perhaps Boris Johnson is speaking what many here in the UK think right now, and showing us how to do radical candour, mokita, authentic criticism. He is engaging with the country in THE courageous conversation of the moment- and showing great leadership in doing so. Whether he wins or not, whether he is right or not, he is great at modelling how to do it. When someone steps up in this way it raises the level of the debate and the level of learning and engagement for everyone.

So let's look at Kim Scott's two criteria: Does he care personally? Yes, and possibly more so than David Cameron, because his personal and family history is tied up in Europe, and as an ancient history and classics scholar much of his education and world view is too. And is he speaking directly? Yes, although he speaks in a way that could sometimes be more succinct, it is direct, to the point and challenging. Many people suspect it is all a ploy to gain the premiership, but this seems such a gamble, there would surely be simpler ways of running for that.

No this is is radical candour, the critic speaking truth to power…

…and I suspect strongly that his mokita will alter the outcome of this referendum.


Kim Scott Radical candour the surprising secret to being a good boss

Boris on the BBC
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