Why this Sheryl Sandberg-inspired management trend is a lifechanger

Why this Sheryl Sandberg-inspired management trend is a lifechanger

- in Business

Evernote CEO Chris O’Neill’s leadership track record is a tour de force. Prior to taking the helm of the internationally acclaimed productivity app in 2015, O’Neill served as the managing director of Google Canada and Google Glass. Before joining the Google team, O’Neill held leadership roles at HSBC, Tim Horton, and other multi-billion dollar organizations.

Nevertheless, O’Neill says that not all aspects of management come easy to him.

“I care deeply about people. That’s what comes naturally to me,” says O’Neill. “But [being direct] doesn’t come naturally to people.”

That’s why he called on Kim Scott, also a former Google exec, for help.

According to the “Team” page on radicalcandor.com, Scott earned her informal title of “High Priestess of the Long Tail” at Google for her ability to generate billions of dollars in ad revenues while keeping margins high.

From starting her own tech firm to managing teams at Google to serving on the faculty at Apple University to consulting for Twitter and Dropbox, Scott has relied on what she calls “Radical Candor” for effective leadership.

Scott says Radical Candor is a management style that she developed after her former Google boss, Sheryl Sandberg, gave her some straightforward unsolicited advice following a presentation.

“I thought, ‘Oh boy, I’ve screwed something up. Maybe I didn’t nail it like I thought I did,’” recalls Scott.

“Sheryl started the conversation by telling me about the things that had gone well in the meeting. But of course, all I wanted to hear about was what I had done wrong. And eventually she said, “You said ‘um’ a lot in there. Were you aware of it?’”

Scott says she initially dismissed Sandberg’s criticism with a simple gesture, but the future Facebook exec leaned in.

“She stopped. She looked right at me, and she said, ‘I can see when you do that thing with your hand that I’m gonna have to be a lot more direct with you.’ When you say ‘um’ every third word, it makes you sound stupid.’”

The interaction changed Scott’s life.

Image: Kim Malone Scott

Candor Inc. authour Kim Malone Scott speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017 at Pier 48 in San Francisco, California.