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The Johari Window: Something Old, Something Simple, Simple Worth Remembering!



Recently we’ve been doing more leadership development training. One project involves designing a leadership development program for a fast growth tech company and another is supporting an executive team in rolling out their key lessons learned to the rest of a mining company.

As a result, we’ve been diving into what’s new, what’s researched, and what’s cutting edge in the way of leadership development, learning and building a cultural shift.

Of course, there’s a lot of new stuff out there! Isn’t there always? However, what really struck me is how some concepts just stand the test of time and work inside any industry - high tech or mining, Baby Boomers or Millenniums.

I have always liked simple wisdom - things that aren’t super complicated when applied with backbone, heart and intention, things that are transformative.

The Johari Window is one of those models. It’s old, it’s simple, and it’s worth remembering and applying!

The Johari Window is a technique used to help people better understand themselves and their relationships with others. The technique involves the use of a window pane to provide a clear and simple way of thinking about how we present ourselves out in the world and ways we can do that more effectively and consciously as leaders.


I’ve written about this before so I’ll provide a link to that article here: as reference for those of you who haven’t heard of the Johari Window. Basically, it’s a window with four panes and we have some choice about which pane or panes are most open and dominate in how we present ourselves:

  • Our Public Self

  • Our Private Self

  • Our Blind Self

  • Our Untapped Self

The truth is, when you step into leading, your public and blind window panes are going to get larger. People are watching you and, frankly, you are paid to self-disclose your opinion and provide feedback to people. That is what increases those two window panes.

Some leaders just don’t get that simple fact. Without any consciousness, many leaders increase their blind spots and don’t even know it.

Let’s take a step back. Many people don’t realize that when they are giving feedback, part of any leader or manger’s job, they are revealing themselves. I know, you think you are talking about the other person. But here’s the deal—how you collect information and decide what is feedback is based on what you notice, what you see as important. And the story you make up based on that data means it’s all about you!

Yes, others may agree, and the person receiving the feedback will likely find it valuable and may even agree that it fits for them. But don’t lose sight of the fact that the feedback given is primarily revealing how you put the world together.

There are so many ways in which a new manager or leader reveals more of themselves and therefore opens a larger window to their public self while increasing their blind self.

That’s why asking for and receiving feedback is so vitally important. But it’s also very hard to get when you are the boss. Too many leaders think that because no one is giving them corrective feedback, they must be doing okay! (I sort wish our President would figure this one out. He could really use the Johari Window!)

But that just isn’t so.

If you are not hearing from your people, both what they like and dislike in terms of your style, your vision, and how the company is running - you are probably developing a bigger blind self than you realize. Your company most likely is as well.

So, this simple model is an eye opener! Pay attention. How you show up in delivering a message and providing your people feedback is revealing and that’s a good thing. You want to be revealed. Learning and development takes place when we open the window to our public selves, and yes, our blind selves.

But this is only as good as your ability to develop skills at asking for and getting honest, direct feedback from your people, your peers and anyone who knows you.

Without getting political and opinionated, one of my biggest concerns about our President is what seems like his inability to take in feedback without blasting back, usually in the form of a tweet or threat.

For me, he is a LOUD mirror of what can be my own style. I know I can be defensive and sometimes defend before I listen and reflect. Being able to receive feedback and consider what fits and what doesn’t isn’t always easy. However, just because you are the boss and can blast, tweet or defend, it doesn’t mean you should. Plus, when you do, you are making your blind self even more of an issue!

It’s your job to do keep your windows clean and open. Do some personal window cleaning and apply some simple, timeless wisdom. Don’t be fearful of showing up, having an opinion and putting that opinion out in the world. Just be equally interested in making sure you ask for and receive (which means be open and receptive) feedback!

The Johari Window is simple - it’s not new - but damn, it is transformative when you get it and apply the learning!

I’ve shared my view and opinion and I’d love your feedback. Let me know what you think.

Don’t forget the window LINK!


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.


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