Behind the Curtain

If you’ve seen the Wizard of Oz, you know that the “wizard” is a just a man who works hard to create an intimidating façade. To an extent, we all do the same thing, choosing carefully what aspects of ourselves we reveal to others. It can be a scary feeling to have the “curtain” pulled back on our lives, and have our truest selves revealed to people. As leaders, sometimes we feel we must only display strength, while hiding the parts of our personalities that expose us for what we all are – imperfect human beings.

At LEAD, we help people learn more about themselves, whether it’s through coaching, mentoring, or one of the personality assessments we offer. One tool we use as we help our clients explore the personal and interpersonal dynamics of our leadership and peer relationships is called the Johari window.

The open area, or arena, represents the parts of our lives that both we and others are aware of. The hidden area, or façade, contains the things that we know to be true about ourselves, but do not disclose to others. The blind spot represents things that others know to be true of us, but which we are not personally aware of, and the unknown area are those things that we have yet to discover about ourselves which others also cannot see.

This tool can be used well when we explore the results of a personality profile. For example, when I took our TTI TriMetrix® DNA - Executive Coaching profile, I kept the Johari window in mind as I reviewed my results.

  • When I saw, “When Kami has strong feelings about a particular problem, you should expect to hear these feelings, and they will probably be expressed in an emotional manner,” I laughed, because I’m usually known as the “emotional one” on my work teams. For me, this would be firmly situated in my “open area.”

  • Later, I read, “Kami’s aversion to detailed work motivates her desire for simplicity.” I thought of several instances when a coworker brought to my attention that I do not operate well in details. This was once a blind spot for me, but it is much more useful to my teams when we can all acknowledge that I can be details-averse.

  • My profile also pointed out that I “look for opportunities to take control of situations.” This is something that I know about myself, but would prefer that others not know. I might think this is part of my façade, but there’s a good chance it’s obvious to others.

Much can be gained by going through an assessment like this with a trusted friend at work, to help move as much of our inner lives into the open area as possible. At LEAD, we enjoy facilitating these assessments for our clients, and we believe that workgroups will always benefit when the individuals better understand themselves and each other. If you’re interested in finding out more about the assessments we offer, contact us at

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