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Level Up - Issue #118


Level Up

November 14 · Issue #118 · View online

Level Up delivers a curated newsletter for leaders in tech. A project by Ideal for busy people such as Tech Leads, Engineering Managers, VPs of Engineering, CTOs and more.

Radically candid feedback
This week I helped a leader navigate a challenging situation. This leader wanted someone on their team to change their behaviour. Over several weeks of trying (and hoping), this team member’s unwanted behaviour didn’t change. This leader cared for their team member but in the process held back on their feedback. Without any feedback, this person didn’t understand the impact of their actions and had no opportunity and reason to change. Through coaching questions, this leader realised they fell for the trap of Ruinous Empathy (Silence + Care Personally) from Radical Candor and realised they need to be more radically candid.
Our coaching session provided a safe space to practice. I asked the leader to give me feedback as if I was the team member with the unwanted behaviour. By listening carefully I could offer perspectives on how the team member might react to the words and the way the feedback was delivered. We iterated several times until this leader felt more comfortable challenging directly whilst demonstrating empathy.
The purpose of practising was not to provide “perfect feedback” (it’s still important to be authentic) but to help this leader crystalise their thoughts and not simply do it “off the cuff.” If you don’t have a coach, you might practice by taking time out to write the feedback down, or by asking a trusted friend to listen and give you ideas on how someone might misinterpret your feedback.
Your challenge for this week is to reflect on situations where you might be holding back on feedback (Ruinous Empathy) and see if you can offer direct feedback in an empathic manner (avoid being Obnoxiously Aggressive).
Enjoy this week’s newsletter and be sure to pass it on to a friend or colleague.
Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Watch out for future dates of “Shortcut to Tech Leadership” in 2022, or take a self-paced course at the

Don't be that leader who sits on feedback that will help someone be more effective
Don't be that leader who sits on feedback that will help someone be more effective
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Tweets of the Week
A fascinating exercise in how responsive some organisations can be. How does your compare? 🤔 👇
Step 1. Someone mentions how it'd be lovely to have M1 Mac as our new work laptops in our developers slack channel.
Step 2. SEVEN minutes later, there is an email in our inbox. Not only are we getting M1s, but we can keep our existing Macs because why not do the simple thing?
So true!
Neil Killick
There is a world of difference between telling your team what to do command-&-control style, and setting clear expectations with them around what they should be doing and achieving. Many managers don't do the latter because of fear of being seen as the former. This is a failing.
Thanks for making it this far! 🤗
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please send me feedback and share it with others!
Want to level up your technical leadership skills? Watch out for future dates for the Shortcut to Tech Leadership online workshop, or check out self-paced courses at the Tech Lead Academy.
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Patrick Kua, Postfach 58 04 40, 10314, Berlin, Germany