Many leaders think they know themselves, and they assume others view them the same way as they view themselves. (iStockphoto) A Leader
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“People are our greatest resource,” is a leadership mantra across professions. Less discussed in law enforcement is the fact that whether and how this resource gets tapped depends on interpersonal communication and relationships.
In his book The Heart of Business , Peter Koestenbaum estimates that, in the business world, dysfunctional interpersonal dynamics cause 80% of “loss processes”—process breakdown, conflict, repetition, duplication, delays, etc.—in organizations.
To be effective, a leader must understand the interpersonal dynamics of the organization, including how people view her and how effective she is in communicating with those she hopes to persuade to follow, act and excel.
Enter the Johari Window
We’re always communicating something, whether verbally or nonverbally. In fact, we’re unable not to communicate. To be effective communicators and to form effective interpersonal relations, leaders must have a true concept of how they view themselves and how others view them.
Named for its creators, Jo seph Luft and Har ry I ngham, the Johari Window is a communication model for getting and giving feedback. Because the business world understands the cost of loss processes, the Johari Window is being used in corporate settings as a heuristic exercise to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships. Law enforcement leaders are in no less need of such feedback. Indeed, they are perhaps in even more need, given their critical mission.
How It Works
There are many ways to use the Johari Window. Here’s one example: The leader requests that different divisions within the department (e.g., patrol, communications, records, supervision, etc.) select a member to complete the Johari Window on the leader. This prevents the leader from selecting persons who might be viewed as sycophants, thus undermining confidence in the results.
The selected persons are guaranteed anonymity to ensure honest responses. The leader may also wish to include one or more participants from the community. The latter may not need anonymity.
The participants are given positive and negative adjectives to use as possible descriptions of the leader. Positive descriptors include: Able, accepting, adaptable, bold, brave, calm, caring, cheerful, clever, complex, confident, dependable, dignified, energetic, extroverted, friendly, giving, happy, helpful, idealistic, independent, ingenious, intelligent, introverted, kind, knowledgeable, logical and so forth.
Negative descriptors include: Aloof, blasé, boastful, brash, callous, chaotic, childish, cynical, dispassionate, distant, dull, embarrassed, foolish, glum, hostile, insecure, insensitive, intolerant, irrational, irresponsible, loud, needy, overdramatic, panicky, passive, selfish and so forth.
Each participant selects six descriptors from each list to describe the leader. The leader also selects six descriptors from each list that he feels describes himself. These descriptors are then mapped onto the Johari Window below. The leader may decide to complete a different Johari Window for each participant.
Descriptors selected by both the leader and the participant(s) are placed into the Public Self quadrant. These demonstrate traits of the leader that both she and the participants(s) recognize.
Descriptors selected only by the leader, but not the participant(s), go into the Hidden Self quadrant. This represents information about the leader that the participant(s) are unaware of. It’s then up to the leader to decide whether her assessment of herself with these descriptors is accurate and, if so, whether to work to demonstrate these descriptors or not.
Descriptors that aren’t selected by the leader but only by the participant(s) are placed into the Blind Spots quadrant. This represents information which the leader does not recognize, but others perceive. The leader can then decide whether and how to act upon or disclose this information to participant(s).
Descriptors that aren’t selected by either the leader or the participant(s) remain in the Unknown Self quadrant. These represent qualities or behaviors not recognized by anyone participating. The leader can then decide whether he wishes to work to develop and demonstrate such qualities.
The Johari Window can also be used within divisions, as part of the promotion process, with recruits to help guide them early on in their career, between FTOs and rookies. Effective interpersonal relations and communication are critical to success anywhere within an organization. The Johari Window provides a model for assessing and developing such skills.
Growth or safety?
Many leaders think they know themselves, and they assume others view them the same way as they view themselves. The Johari Window tests that assumption and provides feedback that’s critical to a leader communicating effectively and forming interpersonal relations that result in a winning team excelling together toward a common cause.
Of course, the Johari Window assumes the leader values the perspectives of those he would have follow him. If the leader doesn’t, chances aren’t she doesn’t have many real followers and is a leader only in her own mind.
Venturing into the Johari Window takes courage. Many would list courage as one of the top qualities of an effective leader.
Be brave. The only things you have to lose are misperceptions standing in the way of you learning to be a truly effective leader. It’s your choice.
One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
- More articles by Valerie Van Brocklin
- Johari Window, Wikipedia
- Johari Window exercises, lesson plans, PowerPoints, etc.
- Johari Window