radical candor

We proudly announce the second installment of ALiEM’s career development book club, The Leader’s Library, with Kim Scott’s bestseller Radical Candor [Amazon link].

Your colleague and friend plops down next to you at a meeting. She’s extra excited because she’s going to give an important presentation to hospital administration about her new quality improvement project, and beams a bright smile at you. She has a huge chunk of spinach between her teeth. What do you do? You could shout, “Hey, loser, get that spinach outta your teeth!” in front of the whole group… or you could encourage her to go ahead and give the presentation, telling her she’s going to do a great job… or you could avoid eye contact altogether… or you could just TELL her discreetly, empowering her to do the best job she can.

This giving someone difficult feedback, with a goal of coaching them to success, is radical candor. Scott presents radical candor at the intersection of Caring Personally and Challenging Directly, and promotes it as a strategy to be a “kick-ass boss.” Independent of our practice type, ALL of us are leaders and stand to benefit from Scott’s philosophy.

Podcast teaser about Radical Candor


Leaders are entrusted with guiding a team to achieve results, and Scott argues that relationships, not power, push us forward to success. She argues that leaders should “drive results collaboratively,” achieving together what would’ve been impossible alone via guidance (= feedback) and team-building. Although we often tend to think that bosses need to be right to achieve results, Scott tells of a striking comment a colleague made about Steve Jobs. He always gets it right– Jobs pushed his team members to disagree with him, to reject his ideas in favor of better ones, to groupthink their way to success, rather than blindly follow him, and he achieved this with radical candor.

Scott distills relationship-building to a critical foundation of trust, which leaders can only gain through caring personally about their team members and having honest conversations with them, including difficult feedback. Once team members believe that their boss truly wants them to succeed, they can then unabashedly and bravely barrel forward to achieve results beyond their leader’s expectations. Later in the book, Scott operationalizes her leadership philosophy into concrete strategies to deliver feedback, lead meetings, hire and fire personnel, balance absenteeism with micromanaging (of particular use to many of us who work with residents on a regular basis), and hold annual reviews with team members.

Whether you work in an academic center, community hospital, hospital administration, a small democratic group, or any other permutation of emergency care, this book applies to you. Think about your last day at work and how many people you needed to manage, motivate, and, occasionally, redirect; emergency clinicians constantly collaborate with trainees, nurses, staff, patients, families, consultants, and admitting teams, and we all want to find ways to make this collaboration more efficient, effective, and fun!

Sound interesting to you? Please join us for the second installment of The Leader’s Library, ALiEM’s professional development book club. We welcome the whole spectrum of health professions in emergency medicine, including trainees, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, and advanced practice providers. A team of world class educators from around the globe (see list below) will be facilitating an online, Slack-based group discussion of Radical Candor by Kim Scott. After the week-long discussion, the Slack account will be retired and a de-identified summary will be posted on the ALiEM site. 

Discussion group

  • When: October 14-18, 2019
  • Platform: Slack app
  • Size: 40 registrants
  • Selection criteria: Diversity of members and comfort level with Slack 

Signup process

We would love you to join us! Please sign up now to secure your spot!

Facilitation team

  • Felix Ankel, MD; Medical Director of Education, HealthPartners Institute; Associate Dean and Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota (@felixankel)
  • Robert Cooney, MD, MSMedEd, RDMS; Director of Faculty Development, Geisinger Medical Center; Clinical Assistant Professor, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Danville, Pennsylvania (@EMeducation)
  • Christopher Doty, MD; Professor & Vice Chair for Education, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Kentucky-Chandler Medical Center (@PoppasPearls)
  • Michael Gisondi, MD; Vice Chair of Education and Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California (@MikeGisondi)
  • Nikita Joshi, MD; Medical Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, Alameda Hospital, Alameda Health System (@njoshi8)
  • Resa E. Lewiss, MD; Director of Point-of-Care Ultrasound, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (@ultrasoundREL)
  • Mary Nan S. Mallory, MD MBA; Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs at University of Louisville; Louisville, Kentucky
  • Dimitri Papanagnou, MD, MPH; Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (@dmitripapa)
  • Sonia Twigg, FACEM, MBBS; Fellow in Simulation and Emergency Medicine at Queensland Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland (@LankyTwig)

Listen to all of The Leader’s Library podcasts

Dina Wallin, MD

Dina Wallin, MD

ALiEM Series Editor, The Leader's Library
Co-Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine,
Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital;
Director of Didactics, SFGH-UCSF Emergency Medicine Residency;
Assistant Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics,
University of California San Francisco