Dr. Lee Kang Yam
Chief Learning Curator | Flame Centre
Executives often mistook that results and experience will get them to the top. However, that is only part of the success equation. How an individual works with others and how the person comes across to others or his/her career reputation is an important determinant in the success equation.
Early in my career, I often thought that I was a good team player, helpful and supportive to others. One day, I decided to ask my colleagues how they saw me. Over coffee, I asked a few colleagues, ‘How did I come across to you when I was working with you?’ What they told me surprised me. They told me that I was a fast and efficient worker and could achieve results, but I did not help them. In other words, I was not a good team player, contrary to what I thought about myself.
The Johari Window by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham is a useful tool for developing self-awareness. In the Johari Window, there are 4 quadrants:
OPEN (what is known to self and others)
HIDDEN (what is known to self but unknown to others)
BLIND (what is unknown to self but known to others)
UNKNOWN (what is unknown to self and others)
See the diagram below.
Using the Johari Window, focusing on my work and not actively helping others was my blind spot. To my colleagues, I came across as just caring about myself. That was not a good reputation I wanted for my career. After knowing my blind spot, I proactively asked my colleagues whether I could help them with their work tasks.
I know of a highly experienced educator who is sincere and empathetic to others. When she listens to others, she will focus hard on the person. However, when focusing hard, a slight frown would appear on her forehead, and others would perceive her as ‘serious’ or ‘stern’. Initially, it was a blind spot for her as others would try to avoid talking to her or feel judged by her. When given feedback about her ‘serious’ look, she tried to smile more often when talking to others to reduce others' misperceptions of her. However, occasionally, the ‘serious’ look might return, and people with no prior contact with her would be mistaken by her expression. That is the hidden quadrant, known to self and unknown to others. She has also learnt to explain her ‘serious’ look when she senses the other person is being too quiet and withdrawn in the conversation with her.
Using the Johari Window, everyone can reduce the ‘BLIND’ area by actively seeking feedback about ourselves from others to correct the misperceptions about us.
Just ask this question, ‘How did I come across to you while I am working/ talking to you?’
Thank the feedback provider and process the feedback.
If it is a blind spot, then ask the other person, ‘How can I reduce this perception of me?’ Using the Johari Window, we can all improve our career reputation and better relate to others.
What is your career reputation?