Window to the Soul

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Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham were American psychologists. In 1955, they developed what has become a very effective analysis tool based on the outcomes of group dynamics studies at the University of California.

They put their findings into the form of a quadrant, resembling a four-paned window. They called it “Johari” – which is simply a combination of their first names.

Initially, the Johari Window was used for interpersonal relationships and self-growth. Over the years, however, it has both broadened and deepened its application. I use it in almost every coaching or consulting project that I undertake.

The breadth of Johari is its application not only to individuals, but also to teams and entire organizations. The depth is its usefulness in gleaning quick insights, or to extensively mine for information that yields significant and sustainable benefits.

It genuinely is a window into the heart and soul of an individual, a team or an entire organization.

There’s a lot here, so we’ll spend several weeks on it. This is more in-depth than my usual post, but hang in there with me and I think you’ll be pleased at how you can apply it to improve your own leadership.

Today, I’ll explain the basic framework. In future weeks we’ll focus on application.

There’s a copy of the window below. Click on the photo to download a copy.

Let’s look at the x and y axes of the window first. The x-axis (horizontal) refers to “self” and contains two blocks. The first is “known to you” and the second is “not known to you.”

The y-axis (vertical) refers to “others” and also contains two blocks. The first is “not known to others” and the second is “known to others.”

Now let’s bring x and y together, section by section.

Upper Left – if something is known to both yourself and also known to others, it is general or community knowledge. This is the desired state. If something is known it can be acted upon. For optimum “health,” this section should always be expanding.

Lower Left – if something is known to you and not known to others, then it is hidden. Either you’ve chosen not to disclose it, or you are wearing a mask to “appear” a certain way. This is a pretty common situation in working with teams.

Upper Right – if something is known to others but is not known to you this is called a blind spot. Think of someone you work with or see socially. I’m sure you can think at of least a few who are unaware of how they come across to others in certain situations, sometimes to their own detriment or embarrassment. We all have blind spots – no exceptions.

Lower Right – if something is not known to you and not known to others, it is just unknown. I know, profound…

…but it really is. The expression “we don’t know what we don’t know” gets tossed around a lot. Without an intentional process to pursue what’s not known, you can lose your impact, your market position and potentially your entire company. This is commonly referred to as being “blind-sided.”

This week, spend a little time reviewing the Johari framework and letting it sink in. Try to think of at least one situation where you can use it to gain some quick insight.

Next week we’ll dive into the details.

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