The Johari Window Model and Valuing Dissonance

“… that greater understanding of self-efficacy and self-awareness is important for individual growth and can enable ethical leaders to empower themselves, their colleagues, and the organization in which they work.” Cam Caldwell 2016


Johari window model is designed to encourage self-awareness, looking at the window this area is in the top left called the Open Arena. I won’t go into detail here as it’s well known. The aim is to increase the open arena in both dimensions;

  1. To make the open arena larger in the y-axis is through leaders sharing information and giving honest feedback.
  2. Enlarging the x-axis is through gaining honest feedback.
  3. This process also decreases the unknown arena by the encroaching open arena.


This model like many aspects of leadership is built on trust, and trust is built through integrity and communication. In the case of small senior leadership teams, it is vital you amass or train a team who are humble enough to receive and give feedback. Even more important is to incorporate dissonance into your team, in fact, the acceptance and encouragement of active dissonance.


I recently tweeted on the value of dissonance (and blog) thinking and the value of having diverse leaders within your team. It is easy to be self-indulgent to have similar voices and follower who fawn over your every word. Come on every like to be told they are doing the right thing. The question, we as leaders, need to ask ourselves is ‘are these voices going to ever deliver honest feedback on your actions and decisions?.’


Picture from

Cam CaldwellLinda A. Hayes, (2016) “Self-efficacy and self-awareness: moral insights to increased leader effectiveness”, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 35 Issue: 9, pp.1163-1173,


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