The Johari Window, developed by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the mid-fifties, is often one of the fundamental exercises used in feedback and leadership training. The premise behind the model is that there are parts of who we are that are known, and parts that are not known—both to ourselves and to others. Understanding these, and how they impact the way we see ourselves, will provide us with a greater understanding of where we need to focus. Feedback is at the heart of understanding what’s working, as well as what’s not working. After all, without feedback, we tend to create our own realities.
The Johari Window helps us to determine where these “knowns” and “unknowns” reside so that we become more self-aware and can improve our relationships with others. We use this concept frequently as we conduct 360-degree feedback surveys and coach leaders through their blind spots and façades. Here is a brief overview of the four windows:
- Open, or Arena: Some areas are known both to you and to everyone else. In these scenarios, your own self-perceptions are congruent with the perceptions of others.
- Hidden, or Façade: You feel you possess these qualities but they are not known or recognized by others. You may choose to not to share certain parts of your personality (you try not to be funny at work), or you may be shy but hide it by pretending to be an extrovert.
- Blind Spot: These are aspects about yourself that others see but you don’t (you think you are funny, but others don’t—my kids claim this is one of my many blind spots). This can be some of the most unsettling or difficult feedback that you receive from a 360 survey, especially when it is critical.
- Unknown: These are areas that neither you nor others recognize in you. In many cases, this may be that the area is simply untested. For example, you may not have done much delegating, and therefore don’t know whether you’re a good delegator or not. Similarly, others have not seen this behavior in you, and do not know how you may delegate—it’s unknown or untested. This window allows you to identify additional potential areas for growth and development.