Let us take four scenarios first.
First Scenario- You meet with an over-talker. He takes over the discussions. You try to say something but then he jumps to say let me finish my point of view and continues. This person does not know that he made you feel irritated and angry.
Second Scenario- You meet with a person who is consistent in what he says and does. Soon, you feel relaxed talking to him.
Third Scenario- You meet with a person and you have no idea what his intentions are. You suspect this person to say sweet things to cover his real intentions. He makes you feel worried and undecided.
Fourth Scenario- You meet with a successful man who suddenly lost his zeal for life. He does not know why. You too have no idea what is wrong with him. You feel unknowing what to do. He feels the same. Could it be he is suffering from an unknown illness? Probably, either one of you have a clear idea. You both feel undecided.
Classification of Behaviors
The preceding four scenarios lead to the following classification of human behaviors
- Behaviors known to others and me (open area)
- Behaviors unknown to others and me (unknowns area)
- Behaviors known to me but not to others (hide area)
- Behaviors known to others but not me (blind area)
Behaviors that I know and others know put both in the open area. I know my behaviors well and others’ behaviors. We both know we make each other feel relaxed. We have no doubt of each other’s intentions. We exchange information openly.
A great leader is one who creates an atmosphere of openness in his team because this is what maximizes cooperation and the exchange of information and skills. Leadership becomes simple and fun in this area.
The unknowns are the most complex area a leader faces in leading. He is dealing with unknowns such as the sudden emergence of competing technology. When in new competitor shows up is another example.
Leading in the darkness of unknowns is a challenge that leaders face in our VUCA world.
The hide area such as having a secret hiding from others or a skill that you hide from others is another challenge for leaders. This attitude stifles cooperation in teams.
Hiding real intentions from others brings doubt and doubt erodes trust. Transparent communication is a prerequisite to collaboration among teams. In an environment with overshadowing clouds of doubt, it only rains more doubt. A team leader must cater for this issue promptly.
The unfortunate reality is that many people think they know themselves and in fact, they do not. They hide from themselves. They think they are friendly when they are arrogant. They behave the same way without attempting to amend their behaviors. Aristotle was right to call for the need to know self.
The blind area is when people know about you what you do not know. Talkative people do not realize they are talkative but other people know. Feedback is necessary in these cases.
In today’s world with multicultural prevailing teams, a leader will have many new unknowns emerging. The transition period for reducing the areas other than the open area is decreasing.
Great leaders have a big task and that is to make what seems undoable to the majority doable. These leaders grasp the concept of The Johari Window.