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The Truth Inside the Johari Window By Dr. Mark L. Vincent

Can your successor design a Johari window?

Family and colleagues know me to be a Johari window guy. When groups are stuck, quite often there are a couple of dynamics at cross-purposes. The Johari window is an easy tool to map out those dynamics and transform the conversation with deeper insight and a breakthrough.

The above – the control/initiative continue – is one such example. I used it recently with a team of managers. Most of them had risen to a managerial role out of their performance on the front lines, but they had not been mentored into thinking and acting as managers. Current circumstances had them jumping back into performing rather than managing with the resulting finger-pointing of I thought they were supposed to do that, followed by that isn’t my job. The managers were stuck among perceptions about where responsibility lies (CONTROL) and whether they primarily brought ideas or responded to the ideas of others (INITIATIVE).

Everyone mapped themselves on the above continua and then noted how each quadrant can shine a light as well as become a shadowed behavior. The conversation went beyond the initial head nods, and comments of “that describes me” to the insight that they might more readily see shadowed behaviors in others before they saw their own. They also noted that someone’s gifting in another quadrant might be perceived or resisted because it is not one’s own.

For those of us in long-standing senior positions in organizations — what we’ve been calling Maestro-level leaders– it is not just whether we can develop Johari windows and thereby help others gain insight. Instead, it is whether we have developed other leaders who also recognize conflicting dynamics and then become architects for transforming the conversation away from conflict and toward insight and possibility. They can’t just watch us do it. And we can’t just invite them to give it a try. We have to create a culture safe enough for them to choose to initiate this reflective thinking and problem-solving.  

If we are the only ones who possess this skill, there will be a significant loss of value when succession time comes. Staff will move into silos and point fingers at each other because the transitioning leader remained the sole problem-solving buffer.

Christian Leadership Alliance is partnering with us to form a Maestro-level leaders cohort for members of CLA. We intend to kick off in the fall of 2022 and invite your consideration. You can learn more about this Transformational Experience by contacting me at


Mark L. Vincent is the Founder of Design Group International and the Society for Process Consulting. He hosts the Third Turn Podcast and facilitates Maestro-level leaders.

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