My “Radical” Work Life: How Being Authentically Me has Helped Foster a Kick-Ass Team by Carolann DeMatos
created by Carolann C. De Matos

My Radical Work Life: How Being Authentically Me has Helped Foster a Kick-Ass Team

Earlier this month, the first employee I hired upon accepting my position at the Library resigned. And this is great news.

Wait … what!?

Yes, you are reading that right.

My teammate is moving on to a new and fabulous-for-her opportunity. She is ready for bigger, better, more, and I am honored to claim a (very) small piece of credit for her future successes. “You were one of the best bosses I ever had. We were always so busy, but we still had such fun together,” she said. “The only reason I considered staying was for you.”

The honest, sometimes silly, high expectation, and unapologetically transparent relationship I have had with my employee for the past three years has helped our small but mighty team win three state industry awards in three years, has kept camaraderie alive in our cooperative work space, and has helped both of us grow as professionals.

“Relationships, not power, drive you forward,” says author Kim Scott in her new book Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing your Humanity. “If you lead a big organization you can’t have a relationship with everyone; but you can really get to know the people who report directly to you.”

Scott goes on to share many tips for fostering mutually beneficial relationships in the workplace, tips that I utilize daily to much success.

Be a partner, not an absentee manager or a micromanager: No one is going to respect a manager who is unwilling to get her hands dirty. Why should an employee do a task that you yourself refuse to do? Jump into the muck and help.

Recognize your own emotions and then master your reaction to others’ emotions: I am a supervisor who sometimes curses like a sailor, sometimes (badly) sings made up songs, and sometimes is overtaken with an unrelenting case of the giggles. I expect high-quality work completed daily, and am unforgiving about missed deadlines. I own these character flaws and I make sure my expectations are resplendently clear. By being authentically me, I am accepted and trusted by my team.

Raise the bar – there’s no such thing as a B-player: Every employee has something unique and worthwhile to offer. Sometimes you, as a supervisor, have to readjust your perspective to discover it.

Praise in public, criticize in private: Even the best employees make mistakes. Constructive criticism has a place, but that place is never in front of an audience.

Keep superstars challenged: You will not keep your very best staff with you if you do not help them reach for their stars. So keep the challenges coming, and when there are no more challenges, be gracious and proud when they graduate away from you for new opportunities. A truly kick-ass team knows how to weather successes and challenges.

If, at the day of my retirement, my only professional successes are a group of people who led richer work-lives for the few months or years that they were with me, then I would consider this a life “well-supervised.” Are you ready to be radical?

[This article was originally published on; June 1, 2017]

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