Consider Radical Honesty

A book review of Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord, co-creator of Netflix Culture Deck

Netflix on the cover was enough to draw me to this book, but the guts inside are what kept me reading. I can’t say I agree with all the book’s principles, but I am enamored by Patty’s common theme of “radical honesty.” So much of life is filled with “keeping up with the Joneses” and other daily B.S. It is nice to envision a world where people say what they think and then trust each other enough to learn and grow from it without holding a grudge.

Part of their magic sauce is the rapid rate of change in which they live day to day. They had to create a culture that embraced continual next-step discussions. “We wanted people to embrace the need for change and be thrilled to drive it.” That meant being brutally honest with their team on where the company was going, and how difficult it was going to be to get there.

“Part of being an adult is being able to hear the truth. And the corollary is that you owe the adults you hire the truth. That is actually what they want most from you.”

This is probably my favorite quote from the whole book. We owe our employees more than a paycheck for their time and efforts. More than benefits, we owe them truth.

Part of our hiring process is telling people up front where we are financially as a company, our goals, the position pay range and any team or client challenges. Our newest hire, Ideen, said this during our interview process, “I think it’s great that leadership lets us see the company’s profit/loss statements. That kind of openness helps me feel like I have a say and belong.”

Patty says if leaders model honesty, people will pick up the habit. When leaders admit when they are wrong, they get better input. People learn to welcome criticism.

“Humans hate being lied to and being spun.” We don’t want this in our personal lives, and our work lives should be no different.  Here’s to future years of more companies embracing radical honesty and truth with and for their teams.


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