In 1955, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham designed the ‘Johari Window’, a cognitive psychological tool, which continues to inform our understanding of how people communicate inter-personally and how relationships are formed today. This tool is particularly valuable in developing the leadership personalities of managers and executives all over the world. The ‘Johari Window’ divides personal awareness into four arenas which we move between as we interact with others. The four windows are:
1) ‘Open window’/Public arena: Things that I know about myself and that you know about me.
2) ‘Blind window’/Blind arena: Things that you know about me, but that I am not aware of.
3) ‘Hidden window’/Private arena: Things that I know about myself and that you do not know.
4) ‘Unknown window’/Subconscious/Unconscious Arena: Things neither I know about myself, nor you know about me.
The Center for Leadership Studies utilizes the ‘Johari Window’ when they want to highlight leadership personality, which includes self-perception and the perception of others versus their leadership style, which only looks at the perception of their behavior by others. The two processes that affect the shape of the Johari Window’ are feedback and disclosure.
Feedback refers to the extent to which others in an organization are willing to share with their leader their feelings and perceptions. Of equal importance in this dynamic is the leader’s willingness and openness to perceive the verbal and non-verbal feedback that exists within their relational dynamic. Without an openness to accept this feedback from one’s subordinates/associates, managers will develop blind areas that will erode their effectiveness over time. The greater likelihood that feedback is exchanged within an organization, the greater the public arena of a leader will overshadow their private arena leading to a less potent blind arena.
The second process that affects the shape of the ‘Johari Window’ is disclosure, or the extent to which leaders are willing to reveal themself to others in their organization. A leader’s behavior provides the greatest insight into their values versus what they say about themselvs. In the interest of the time and energy of organizations, leaders should always take into consideration disclosing only what is relevant to the operation of an organization and compartmentalizing that which is irrelevant. This way, the leader’s public arena will only open up into the private arena when it is in the best interest of the overall organization.
In organizations where there is ongoing feedback and disclosure between leaders and their subordinates/associates, the public arena of the leaders extends itself into the blind and private arenas. Also, there is a greater likelihood that what was previously unknown to the leader or the others will be exposed in the public arena.
In considering your own leadership personality, how much feedback and disclosure are you perceiving and receiving within your organization? Do you think that by increasing your openness to this input you would improve your effectiveness? What is getting in your way of this happening more often?