The Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast: Episode 8
Welcome to the Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast from rhondapeterson.com. This is Rhonda Peterson, your Bold and Courageous Leader coach. This week we are exploring the JoHari Window. The JoHari Window is a self-awareness tool and using it gave me a clearer picture of who I am, how I am viewed by others and my impact on those around me. This tool focuses on what is known and unknown by self and by others.
Andee: Interestingly, Rhonda, you and I discovered the JoHari Window right about the same time, through a coarse that we were taking together several years ago and it wasn’t a new tool then. It’s been around for about sixty years. It was created by two psychologists; Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955. It’s really a helpful tool for personal growth but it works just as well for team development. So, Rhonda tell us, how does the JoHari Window help one become a Bold & Courageous leader?
Rhonda: Well first, it helps by increasing your self-awareness. You can gain a deeper awareness of the intersection of your leadership and your context. And your context is defined as where you are interacting. Is it your work place? Is it with others in a volunteer situation? Is it in your family? Your context is that place where you interact and your experiencing leadership, and leading. Who am I and how do I show up to others? Also what is my impact on my context? Is that positive or is that negative? That impact on context relates to followership. Who do I follow and who follows me? Are my blind spots causing me trouble? I can pretty much guarantee that if you have a blind spot, it’s going to cause you trouble. The JoHari Window provides a space to look at this. And self-awareness reflected through the JoHari Window reflects your why. It can show disconnects between your personal why or your corporate why and your behaviors. Finally, using the tool promotes deeper levels of self-awareness which is the hallmark of a Bold & Courageous leader.
Andee: The JoHari Window consists of four quadrants and each quadrant represents information regarding yourself or the individual and whether it’s known or unknown by self or others. So, talk a little bit about those quadrants.
Rhonda: Well, in order to understand this, let’s get a mental picture. The best way to describe this is to picture a four square court from the playground when you were a child. Each square represents a quadrant of the window. Quadrant number one is the upper left quadrant and that’s called the open quadrant. It’s known to self and known to others. This area is what is known about you by both you and others.
The next quadrant is quadrant two and that’s the upper right quadrant. That quadrant is called the blind quadrant. These are things that are known by others but not known by self. Sometimes when I think about that one I just cringe, because I know that some of the things that other people can see. Oh my.
And then there is quadrant three. That’s the lower left quadrant. It’s called the hidden quadrant. These are things that you know about yourself but they’re not known by others.
And quadrant four, which is the lower right quadrant, is unknown. It’s not known by yourself and it’s not known by others. We each have all four of these quadrants. As a Bold & Courageous leader, building deeper self-awareness by intentionally being vulnerable and transparent while still being safe in yourself is very important. It’s also very useful for building understanding, appreciation, and greater trust within a team. When a team shares the process of building a larger, open area for each member of the team, they create an atmosphere of safety and respect for the strengths and skills that each member of the team brings to the organization. This frees everyone to focus on what they do best, leading to increased success for the individual and for the organization and what more can we ask for from that standpoint?
Andee: I was going to say, that sounds really holistic and everybody wants to be successful. That’s, you know, that’s our goal for ourselves and for our organization. So, will you take us through each of these quadrants and explain how they work to make us better leaders. We can start, obviously with quadrant one, which is the open area. I really like the sound of that one.
Andee: It’s open.
Rhonda: Yes. I like the sound of the open area too. Open, free, what more can one ask for? When we’re working with others, it’s important to be as open and transparent as possible. The goal is working toward an open quadrant that is as large as possible. That is the goal of the JoHari Window. You want to make sure that your open quadrant is as large as possible. Well, for many of us that can feel really risky at first, but it’s a good place to practice trusting God, the first quality of a Bold & Courageous leader.
In the open quadrant, you have shared knowledge, where the individual and the team are aware of behaviors, motivations, the values, experiences, and strengths of each person on the team. And increasing this area, eliminates distrust because you understand where the other person is coming from. It also eliminates misunderstandings and conflict. Obviously, by having a larger open area, you build trust. This comes from working together because as you work together, you increase in trust because you learn what you can count on the other person for. This could also become larger through disclosure because you have ever deepening levels of trust that are provided as you disclose things because the team develops safety. You learn that what you share with the others is OK because as you become vulnerable and the other people don’t use that against you, you learn that they are trustworthy. When you do that, the hidden area shrinks and the blind area shrinks because the team members are providing you with feedback that increases your open area through them sharing with you what they know about you, but we’ll talk a little bit more about that in a minute.
If you have a team with a large open area and deep trust, even conflict can lead to greater productivity, because that trust and openness allows you to remove barriers because it's safe to speak the truth. If somebody is seeing something and you need to address it as a team and it's a safe place to bring that conflict into the open, you can really get a whole lot more done because there aren't those things that are going to subvert or trip you up as a team.
Andee: You know what I hear so much in the open quadrant is interconnectedness and interdependence.
Rhonda: That’s a great way to say it.
Andee: We learn to work together, which is how we are really designed, is to work together to be interdependent. Well, then we come to quadrant two, and like you it kind of makes me cringe because it's the blind quadrant. What do others know about me that I don't know about myself.
Rhonda: You know what’s funny, when we talk about the blind area we assume that those things that others are seeing that we can’t, are all going to be negative.
Andee: That's right.
Rhonda: I don't know why we automatically go to the negative. Even people who are generally positive, like you and me, tend to think negatively about that thing. However, those can be positive things that others see about us also. Just sharing some things out of my own life, that are blind area feedback that's been given to me.
One example is from a 360, that somebody said that I tend to not give up on an idea. I tend to not give up on an idea even when it's time to let go of it. And when I first got that feedback I really was rather taken aback. Actually it kind of got my back up, to be perfectly honest with you. What do you mean? Who the heck said that? Because it was anonymous feedback. What I realized is that, that can be either a positive thing or a negative. I took their feedback that it was negative, because again we always take feedback as being negative. But as I thought more and more about it awareness of this gave me an opportunity to be more in tune with the fact that I tend to be tenacious. When I believe in something I am tenacious about it. I don't give up on it. But I also recognize that there was a time when I should hang on and there was a time to let something go. And I needed to be more aware of that, so I became more self-aware and more open by having that blind spot revealed to me. And truthfully in this situation, at that point, that was probably given to me four or five years ago, I really appreciate that, that was given back to me.
I also have to be honest about the fact that, reflecting on my past, when I was given well and appropriate feedback, and a lot of times this was even in a work situation, I would be given feedback on things where I really needed to improve on, in different things that I was doing. Let's face it we all have areas where we need to improve, where we need to grow. Old messages about constantly having to be perfect, got in the way of receiving that truth and I would tend to not receive that very well. I needed others to help me see the destructiveness of this pattern. Eventually, I did learn. That was a very blind area that others experienced but I didn't recognize it, at that time and it was something that caused me to stumble and held me back professionally because I could not see that.
And I'm also going to share with you something that is in my personal life. Because when my husband, when I, the new idea person of the universe, which drives him nuts. When I give him a new idea, he is someone who needs to sit with a new idea before he can really integrate it. He is a really good introvert and he's got to think about it before he can give me feedback. And I can respect that, but the eye-rolling part of it, that negativity, non-verbally, just really sends me over the edge. On a regular basis. He's very happy to know that I just shared that with the world, I'm sure. But those kinds of things that are a blind spot can really get in the way of relationship and trust. It can cause someone to not give you feedback that they really need to give you and it can cause you to have an inability to get the things done that you need to do to move forward as a leader.
Andee: Right. Well, going back to the idea that this, the feedback that helps us to fill in this quadrant two, can be either positive or negative. It's really easy, as you said, it's easy for us to see how it can be a sensitive area when the feedback that we receive is negative. But I think it's important to understand that it can be just as sensitive when the feedback is positive, especially for someone who doesn't perceive the feedback or the observation as a description that they want to apply to themselves. For example, pointing out to someone that you see humility in them. That might be, you may intend that to be a really positive feedback or observation of their behavior but if they equate humility with being a doormat, then they're not going to want to receive that as the positive feedback that it is. And I think it's just a good, it's good to be aware that when you're giving feedback, what you may intend to be positive, may be received as negative. And then also when you are receiving feedback, that someone may intend for something to be really positive but what is your filter? If it strikes you as being negative, what is your filter?
Rhonda: That is a really good point. Because we do have those filters. When I was talking about the work feedback that I was getting, that old messages were getting in the way. It's the same basic idea and that's why it's so important to have that trust and openness with those people that are giving feedback. Because a great example, is the word humility and people perceiving it as meaning that they are a doormat. Whereas you and I do not understand the word humility as you are being a doormat. We understand the word humility as quiet awareness of self which is a very different thing than being a doormat.
Rhonda: So being in a trusting relationship where that feedback is given and then can be discussed, so that you understand it, can be really helpful. And those blind areas can be stumbling blocks to making your highest and best contribution. When we have that openness, so that we can gain deeper understanding out of the feedback, that can really just set us up on a trajectory of going so much further. Which kind of leads us into the whole concept of emotional intelligence and how self-awareness and self-regulation all interact with that.
Andee: They do interact really well with all of this. Quadrant two is the blind area, what others can see and what we do not see about ourselves. Quadrant three is the hidden area and it's what we see but what we keep hidden from others. Talk about that a little bit please.
Rhonda: Well we all have parts of our life that we choose to keep hidden. Those hidden things can be idiosyncrasies, of course those idiosyncrasies are probably showing up and they're in the blind area rather than in the hidden area. Let's not kid ourselves. But there might be an idiosyncrasy that is hidden but it can also be a major faux pas that we want to keep covered. Keeping information that you know hidden takes emotional and mental energy and if this information is something we could use to help others and help you become more productive, it might be wise to share it with those who can benefit from it. Maybe your family, your co-workers or your friend who is going through a rough time that you have faced in the past. This does not mean we need to be such an open book that there is nothing that we keep to ourselves. That is not what I'm saying. But we do need to be judicious in thinking about what it is that we are hiding. Because Bold & Courageous leaders create an atmosphere of trust and safety and one of the ways we do that is we are vulnerable with others and we have a willingness to share those things that others might hold back on. As the leader, you model openness for your team.
And at this point I just want to kind of step out and reaffirm the definition of leader that we talk about as a Bold & Courageous leader. Being a leader does not mean you have a title that says I am the CEO. I am the senior vice president of marketing. I am the senior pastor. I am the head of the nonprofit. Being a leader means that you have influence over others. Sometimes people who are leaders don't have a title at all but they have a great level of impact and influence and their ability to create that atmosphere of trust and safety can be just as influential as somebody at a high level of the organization.
Andee: Yes, very true. So what you're saying really is leadership is more, is less about position and more about influence.
Rhonda: Absolutely. That said, in very few words what I just said in three paragraphs. Thank you for saying that Andee.
Andee: You’re welcome.
Rhonda: As that influential leader, you have the opportunity to take a position of self-disclosure. That self-disclosure requires a level of vulnerability. Maybe sharing things that others don't know about you. These things can be small and they may even seem silly or they may loom large in your mind. It just all depends on the situation, on your context and what is going on around you.
Andee: I think it's important to be aware if you're not willing to disclose something why. Why do you not want that to disclose that? It's a good to ask yourself that I think it's a good idea to ask yourself why. Sometimes there's a good reason not to disclose things. Perhaps if it would undermine or compromise your business or compromise your leadership. But if the reason is to protect yourself image, pride maybe the underlying motivation and pride has an amazing capacity to corrupt our best efforts. So I think, again pointing back to self-awareness, why am I not willing to disclose a particular event in my life or experience in my life or, again, as you said something might seem small and silly so are you not wanting to share that because you think it will somehow damage your credibility. Most of the time it won’t. It will just let other people see that you are human being too and that you, there's that fun side where they can connect with you.
Rhonda: Absolutely. Not only that but if they know that you have had a failure, whether it be small or silly or large. If they know that you haven't been perfect in your life it gives them the freedom to be able to step out and maybe try something new or different that they’ve not done before. Because you then set the tone for safety and trust whether it be in your company, your team, your group for your family. That place of safety and trust is so important and as the leader you are the one who sets the tone for that.
Andee: I think that's true. I think it's really important to create some space for, I really don't want to use the word failure but that's what we would understand it to be. It doesn't have to be seen as failure. It can just be seen as an opportunity to learn what you're not good at it or what won't work. Failure is not really a bad thing but if we do not have some space for failure or faux pas then we can't grow.
Rhonda: Absolutely and maybe what we need to say, we don't want to fail at everything we do our entire life, that's not the goal. But if we look at the failure as an opportunity for growth and for learning and how we're going to do it differently the next time because we have now done this experiment and we can say whatever we did in this one, it didn't work. We like this part. We like this part. We like this part. But we are going to do this differently. Then failure doesn't become a death now. It becomes the next step in success and there are a lot of people who talk about that. How failure is a precursor to success. We might want to talk about that in a podcast someday but today we are not going to because we are talking about the JoHari Window. Interesting how we then went down that road but it's also interesting how that atmosphere of trust and safety allows for failure and growth out of it. So we need to think about the fact that as the leader, your willingness to be vulnerable and sharing about yourself at the level that you feel comfortable, provides an example of what openness looks like. That can encourage others to decrease their own hidden area and then bring their best to your team.
There's a key point I really want to emphasize about this; however, disclosure is always at the discretion of the individual team member. There is no one that should be pressured to share things they don't feel safe or willing to share. If they're not willing to share it, it's not time. Let it go and move on. Someday, when the time is right, the right things will be shared.
Andee: That's a good point.
Rhonda: It's amazing what a team, and the individuals within a team can accomplish when they establish safety and trust within the group. Through those trusting relationships, hidden skills can come to the fore and individuals are willing to try new things because they know their team has their back. And that failure we are talking about, is not an end but an opening to learn and develop something new and better. When we develop that culture of safety and trust, where all the members of your team feel supported and validated in their role, that helps the individuals hidden areas to decrease opening up new areas of contribution and growth for your team and the organization. So again, the open area becomes bigger when the hidden area becomes smaller.
Andee: I like that idea. I like that. Now we're at the last quadrant, the unknown area which sounds a little intimidating.
Rhonda: It may sound intimidating. It doesn't have to be. Again, it can be a positive or a negative. This area is the area that is unknown to the individual and to others. It's the source of latent abilities, skills and desires that we possess or experiences that we have buried in our subconscious for some reason. I personally have an example of this that comes out of a crisis in our, in my family's life, in the aftermath of my husband’s very serious car accident. That brought out skills and abilities that I’d never had to use before and to be perfectly honest with you I hope I never have to use them again. But I connected with the doctors, asking questions and giving information about my husband's health and behaviors before the accident. I had to work with therapists and medical staff, learning to do simple things like give an injection. I know that doesn't sound like much but I avoid the sight of blood and I never had any desire to deal with medical issues in any way. I was definitely not looking at a career in nursing and I had to learn to do a whole lot of things like that. But through the course of this experience I also encountered God in a new and deeper way. I experienced the power of prayer, as many people prayed on that first frightening night and in the ensuing days for Mark's life and the outcomes that we hoped for. I also experienced God's presence in a very real and powerful way that changed my life forever. A few months later a friend remarked that I had changed and I contend that one can’t experience what we had gone through and continued to go through for about four years without being changed. For me, a big part of that change was learning to lean on God, trusting in His goodness and presence in all circumstances. I really practiced being a Bold & Courageous leader in this instance. That was definitely a situation where I had unknown abilities and skills that came to the fore because of a situation that was totally unexpected.
Andee: It must have been just an amazing thing to see those skills begin to develop, begin to evolve as you moved forward through this crisis. And I'm sure you didn't get a very good handle on that until looking back. Until you had gotten past it a ways. But that is so often how it works isn't it? There is some situation in life that presents itself that had we known ahead of time we would have said, “No, I could never be able to handle that. I would never know how to do that.” And yet when we get thrust into the middle of it God shows up and shows off.
Rhonda: That's an amazing thing.
Andee: Yes it is. And He works in us and through us to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. That’s a very hope filled message that you have as you talk about Mark's accident.
Rhonda: That's because there was a lot of hope there.
Andee: Yes. Yes. How do we make this unknown area known? How do we move it from quadrant four to quadrant one, to the open area?
Rhonda: Actually, we don't move from quadrant four to quadrant one. The unknown area of the JoHari Window becomes known when circumstances open it for you. Sometimes they can be anticipated life events. I mean who can’t anticipate the love one has for a child that is born into a family. And sometimes they are unanticipated, like the accident was. But in the revealing of the unknown quadrant, we discover that we have strengths abilities and attitudes that we never realize we carry within us.
I have to address the fact that the unknown area also contains potential negative elements that exist in your subconscious. Often these are negative experiences that your mind has suppressed because dealing with them would be difficult or overwhelming. If these things come to your conscious mind, it's best to seek assistance from a trained professional to deal with them. Addressing whatever is revealed to you can make you stronger in the long run but only if you deal with your new awareness rather than ignoring it. Even in dealing with negative, latent, unknowns we can discover new strengths, abilities, and aptitudes if we walk through the initial discomfort. These negative, latent unknowns can even lead to helping others deal with their own negative situations, turning what looks like a negative into a positive.
Andee: Well we've covered the four quadrants of the JoHari Window. Now what do we do with this information? What do we do with the Johari window?
Rhonda: Well, that's been an ongoing source of conversation for you and I, that's for sure. My answer to that question is that as Bold & Courageous leaders our goal is being in the open space as much as possible. It's a part of who we are. The more we develop our Bold & Courageous identity the deeper our awareness of self and how we interact with our context. It's true, we will always have a blind spot and that unknown area but intentionality helps us to manage these quadrants. Seeking self-awareness and feedback limits the size of a blind area. When I face a challenge in my leadership, looking for blind spots that impact others is part of my leadership responsibility. Asking questions of others, so that I get that feedback is really important. I don't just hold others accountable but I look in the mirror and take an account of my own behavior and seek out that feedback that can help me understand better what my impact is on those around me. I can also practice intentionality in the unknown area. Discoveries in the unknown area are by nature unanticipated. But I can make a decision now of how I will respond when a new ability, skill or awareness comes to me. I can decide ahead of time to open myself to this new information and integrate it into who I am. I can seek a positive outcome even if the new information is negative in nature. That's, that is setting myself up for rolling with whatever happens,as opposed to being blindsided by something that comes along and not knowing where to go with this new information.
Andee: Rhonda, what I hear in that is you saying that you make the decision ahead of time, before the crisis, before whatever the opportunity is, before that is presented to you; you have already made a decision that you are going to respond with an openness to receive. What you can learn what skills might evolve in this process rather than coming at it with your hands up to stop whatever is coming. Rather than anticipating it as something that is just purely negative, not only from at the outset but the ending is going to be just as negative as the beginning was. So, you are predisposing yourself to have a positive reaction to whatever comes your way so that God can work in itto accomplish in you and through you what He wants to accomplish. But it is an intentional decision that you are making before it's actually demanded of you.
Rhonda: I think that's a really good way to phrase that Andee. A much better way than I actually started out with. Yes. Absolutely. Thank you for saying that.
Andee: You’re welcome.
Rhonda: So in conclusion, the JoHari Window is a tool for increase self-awareness. It works for individuals and it works for team development. It provides a framework for understanding relationships between people and teams. As a Bold & Courageous leader, I encourage you to consider this tool for your toolbox. For your personal development and also when you are working in a team. You can use it to make your team and your relationships safe places to be as open as possible. And when you do assessments, if you do a 360, if you have everyone do the Myers-Briggs, if you have everyone do DiSC, if you have everyone do Strength Finder to look at the results of that within the Johari window for each individual within the team. That can be a really helpful framework to put your assessment results in.
Andee: The one other thing you might want to keep in mind is that your JoHari window is never a finished product. So it's really interesting to keep the JoHari Window open on your desktop, either on your computer or literally on your desk so that you can revisit it from time to time and the add and move qualities from one quadrant to another but it should be a tool that you use throughout your development as a Bold & Courageous leader. There will always be new discoveries to add to your JoHari Window.
Rhonda: If you would like a graphic of the JoHari window there will be one in today’s show notes.
To find out more about today’s topic, get downloads of our previous podcasts or to learn how you too can become a bold and courageous leader, visit rhondapeterson.com. Our ever-growing community is waiting for you. If you liked today’s show, there are three things you can do. You can subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes or Stitcher. You can give us a rating or a review on iTunes. The subscriptions and ratings help others to find us more easily. And you can help us get the word out by sharing the podcast with your friends. This is Rhonda Peterson, your Bold & Courageous Leader Coach. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you for the next Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast.