Self-Aware Startup Teams Johari Window Helps Founders Develop Greater Self-Awareness

 In Benefit Venture Blog, Optimizing, Tools

Self-Aware Startup Teamsself-aware startup teams: Building a new venture needs every bit of help it can muster. Creating and developing a winning team depends on the founder’s leadership. The Johari Window is a marvelous tool to help founders to develop greater self-awareness, using it with their team so that the whole group can save a great deal of time, by avoiding misunderstandings due to wrong assumptions about other people.

The Johari Window focuses on soft skills such as emotional intelligence, empathy, cooperation, interpersonal and intergroup development. A characteristic of any founders is to be passionate about their endeavor, and in the process missing the opportunity to tune in to the emotions of others, and harness the appropriate level to manage a successful team, especially in the early stages, when everything is urgent.

The Johari Window has four regions which represent information about a person which is either known to the individual as well as others (public/free), unknown to the individual, but known to others (blind), known to the individual but kept secret from others (private/hidden), or unknown to all (unknown). While the overall window remains the same size, each quadrant can grow or diminish to reflect the changing knowledge shared about an individual across the four areas. (The matrix above is thanks to

To start the process, provide a list of adjectives and ask each member of the startup team to choose words they feel relate to them. Example words might include ‘patient’, ‘supportive’, ‘trustworthy’, ‘efficient’, ‘quiet’ or ‘smart’. Then ask another team member to describe the person using the same list of words. They may choose similar or different words.

There will be attributes that are shared (in the open space) and others that the individual is not aware of (in the blind area), There are also different attributes that the other person did not identify (i.e. that remain in the private/hidden area). Located in the unknown area are the words that neither person identified, but might be revealed given the right circumstances or opportunities.

They key part of this startup teamwork process is the mutual feedback that follows the disclosures. You may be surprised to find that other people have similar tendencies to hide the bits of themselves about which they don’t feel great or that cause them some anxiety. What is likely to be revealed is that we all have attributes that fall in the different quadrants. Surfacing them with the team can actually be fun, too.

Start this as pet of startup team building slowly, so as not to put participants off. Then repeat it, as mutual trust builds among startup team members. You will find that you gradually develop constructive communication skills aha can be sued both within and outside the startup team.

By being open to feedback startup team members in the group discussion can develop individually, teams can benefit, and the new venture can prosper. If this sounds a bit touchy-feely, when you just want to get on and make the new venture jump, remember that a short amount of time invested early on developing mutual trust can save time and money later. If you can manage to disclose personal information about yourself in a safe environment through using the Johari Window structure, interpersonal difficulties that arise within the startup team will be dealt with much more easily, and not leach out into the business as it affects customers, suppliers and other groups.

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