Developing Leadership with the Johari Window

As a leader, trust and honest communication should be at the centre of what you strive to achieve. Without trust, it will be impossible to work through any complex problems or issues with your team as honest and productive conversations will not be able to take place.

What is the Johari Window?

Building good working relationships is a common leadership goal, but it can be difficult to know how and where to start. That is where the Johari Window comes into play.

The Johari Window (1955) was developed by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingram it was created as an attempt to better understand ourselves and our relationships with others. They created the model below:

Open –  This section relates to all that is known about that individual. It is what is known by the individual themselves and what is known about them by the group. The information that is open can relate to their behaviour, feelings, knowledge, experience or skills etc.

Blind Spot – This area relates to what is known about the individual by the group, but that individual does not know about them self.

Hidden – This relates to what the individual knows about them self but does not reveal to the group. This could be related to their own feelings, fears, sensitivities, agenda or manipulations.

Unknown – This section deals with all the information, feelings, experiences such as a natural ability the individual does not know they possess etc. These are neither known to the individual or known to the group.

Putting the Johari Window into context

Understanding the premise of the Johari Window is one thing but being able to put it into the context of leadership is another! Below are the two most important aspects to focus on whilst using the Johari Window for leadership development.

When engaging in honest conversation as a leader, important information is placed into the open area. Leaders want others to know what the relevant details are to enable them to make informed decisions or understand the targets they must achieve. However, the complicated aspect is moving information from hidden into the open.

Moving information from the Hidden into the Open

It can seem strange to want to move things that are hidden into the open. However, when employees are not aware of what a leader’s goals or concerns are, often they will guess them. Keeping things hidden from employees is often problematic; how can your employees be expected to alleviate your concerns when they aren’t aware of them? When speaking with your team members, consider sharing these two crucial bits of information:

  1. Your top priorities and in what timeframe
  2. The issues that are keeping you up at night

When you share what’s on your mind with colleagues and team members, you are giving them the opportunity to offer their help.

Moving Information from the Blind Spot into Open

To develop this, you as a leader must provide an environment based safety and trust for your employees. It also takes a degree of courage to ask for honest feedback, both from the perspective of yourself and your team members. Your aim should be to have as few blind spots as possible. In our experience, one of the best methods of ensuring ongoing honest feedback is by having frequent one to one sessions with your direct reports. Within these sessions, it may help to ask these questions in order to uncover information on your blind spots:

  1. What should I start doing?
  2. What should I stop doing?
  3. What should I keep doing?

An effective leadership development tool

The Johari Window is an effective tool for helping to develop leadership as it enables a leader to identify areas that they need to work on and issue they have. It is great for helping to create honest conversations within a business and for gaining the ability to build trust –  two elements that cannot be overstated within a productive business environment. Try using this for yourself and see how effective it can be.