How to use the Johari Window to become more self aware
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How to use the Johari Window to become more self aware

Why do we need to become more self-aware?

In my last blog, I talked about the importance of self- awareness and using feedback as one of the most simple and effective methods to help you become more self-aware. So to recap, to be an effective leader and manager we need to be aware of ourselves and the impact we have on others around us. When we develop our self-awareness we are able to understand the emotions and behaviours of ourselves and those of our teams – this helps us to deal with the challenges of other people’s reactions, especially in the workplace.

How can we become more self-aware?

There are a number of ways that we can learn more about ourselves:
Feedback from others – such as appraisals or more informally a simple “how am I doing?”
Coaching tools – such as a using a SWOT analysis, or Johari’s window
Psychometric tools – such as Myers Brigs Type Indicator Test, or Mental Toughness Questionnaire
Management tools – such as engagement surveys or 360 degree appraisals
Self-reflection tools – such as keeping a journal or practising mindfulness

Using the Johari Window Model to become more self-aware

Designed in 1955 by Ingham and Luft (Businessballs, 2018), this model was developed to use when working on personal development, to understand relationships and to become more self-aware. The general idea is that we examine information about ourselves and enter it in to the relevant “pane of the window”

Let’s go through each window pane of the model to understand how you might use it:

Open/Free Area

This could be that you are excellent at communicating and members of your team confirm this.

This pane helps you focus on information that you know about yourself and information that others know about you. This is the section that should be developed for every person within a team as the more each team member knows about each other the more likely that team will be high performing. This section allows for open and free communication and comes from a position of honesty and effective feedback. Consider that new members to a team will have a smaller pane than more established members, so it is important that this is expanded on quickly.

Blind Area

This could be that you are very controlling of tasks and therefore micro-manage people, however you believe that you are just being a manager.

The aim is to reduce this area and increase the Open/Free Area, as this area is ineffective and unproductive. We may be referred to as being deluded or ignorant about ourselves if this area is large but it can be reduced by requesting and listening to feedback. It’s important that the manager/leader promotes a culture that encourages constructive and sensitive feedback, therefore allowing individuals to be able to reduce this area positively.

Hidden Area

This could be that you lack in confidence so you over compensate so that people believe you to be hard, arrogant and unapproachable.

This area links to information that we know about ourselves but others don’t. Here we must understand that it is OK to not reveal information that doesn’t relate to work and is personal and private. However, a lot of information we keep hidden is due to fear, concerns, our feelings and even some manipulative intention, and usually relates to a work or a performance issue. We can reduce this area and increase our open area further by telling others how we feel and other information about ourselves. This enables better understanding, cooperation, trust, team-working effectiveness and productivity. Reducing hidden areas also reduces the potential for confusion, misunderstanding, poor communication, etc, which all distract from and undermine team effectiveness.

Unknown Area

This could be that you have a particular ability to be able to sail or rock climb, yet you don’t know this as you have never tried, therefore no-one knows this. (Source: Solar, 2018)

This area focusses on aspects that we don’t know about ourselves and neither does anyone else. These unknown issues can take a variety of forms: they can be feelings, behaviours, attitudes, capabilities, aptitudes, which can be quite close to the surface, and which can be positive and useful, or they can be deeper aspects of a person’s personality, influencing his/her behaviour to various degrees. Large unknown areas would typically be expected in younger people, and people who lack experience or self-belief. Examples that especially relate to the workplace could be:

This area can be reduced by self-discovery and observation by others, and this will move knowledge into the Open, Blind or Hidden area dependent on who has discovered this information. It is important that as leaders/managers that we develop a culture which provides people with the opportunity to try new things, with no great pressure to succeed, as this is a useful way to discover unknown abilities, and thereby reduce the unknown area.

Managers and leaders can help by creating an environment that encourages self-discovery, and to promote the processes of self-discovery, constructive observation and feedback among team members. Creating a culture, climate and expectation for self-discovery helps people to fulfil more of their potential and thereby to achieve more, and to contribute more to organizational performance.

Ultimately managers who are more self-aware and know their own strengths, their blind spots, where they need support and what development they need to help them and their organisation to move forward are going to be able to contribute fully and be more effective. This is vital in key management and leadership roles and tasks such as communicating, organising, motivating, dealing with conflict, solving challenges and decision-making. (Businessballs, 2018)

In our next blog, we will focus on using some of the psychometric tools available to improve your self-awareness.
If you have enjoyed this blog, why not join us on our next Leadership and Management Course where self-awareness is studied in detail.

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