When attempting to improve one’s professionalism and ensure continuous personal growth, one should engaging in self-exploration through reflection and reflexivity. It is through new experiences, the most valuable of which is conducting a research, that individuals are capable of obtaining new insights and pursue qualitative positive changes in their knowledge, skills, self-perception, and workplace performance (Best and Williams, 2019). The aim of this research is to increase self-awareness of values and behaviors which have developed professional identity. Indeed, to become an effective manager, one should improve self-awareness to reflect in-action and on-action for continuous work on mistakes and elimination of weaknesses (Schön, 2017). The scope of the present research includes the collection and analysis of data about the researcher’s personality using such tools as life values inventory and Belbin survey to establish the areas for improvement through reflection. Self-awareness is essential for a competent professional and for a functional member of society, which is why it is essential to improve this skill through research and learning.
The context for this research is informed by the professional identity values that are considered most applicable to the researcher’s identity. Managers today commonly face challenges of maintaining functional occupational environments through the difficulties of interpersonal communication and emotional intelligence application (Vrontis et al., 2021). Therefore, the most effective way to cope with the emerging challenges is to obtain a high level of self-awareness about one’s professional identity qualities for their objective assessment and improvement. In particular, according to the Charted Management Institute (CMI) (no date), some of the core professional values for a manager include behaving in an open, honest, and trustworthy manner. In addition, the core values that align with my vision of myself as a professional are creating a positive impact on society and continually developing and maintaining professional knowledge and competence (CMI, no date). These values are consistent with those identified in the life values inventory and inform the overall context of the current research.
Using this research as an opportunity to understand myself and increase the level of my self-awareness, I anticipate contributing to my professionalism and leadership qualities. The data and implications of the inventories, surveys, and the reflexive methodology results will allow me to analyze my professional identity for its further improvement. Through this research, it is vital to integrate and broaden my knowledge of behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs that shape my professional identity to understand my role in society and how it may improve.
Being a reflective practitioner is essential for an individual who wants to strive in their profession and social life. It is particularly relevant to the professionals in the managerial field since their job involves flexibility and adjustment the different people and environments to deliver organizational goals. In this regard, the ability to reflect on one’s experiences comprises the essence of continuous improvement of the professional identity (Noonan, 2019). Thus, reflexivity allows a practitioner to be aware of oneself as a member of society, which predetermines the pathways for learning and continuous personal and professional growth (Ecologicaltime, 2017; Matsuo, 2018). Indeed, professional growth is ensured through reflection due to the inherent role of emotional intelligence based on self-awareness as the basis of the managerial role. The review of scholarly literature on the topic of reflective practice and the related theoretical directions helps to generate a solid theoretical basis for the research.
Within the scope of this research, the theoretical approach selected as the framework is writing through the mirror. An abundance of scholarly literature is available on the topic of reflecting using a mirror as a metaphor. However, the origin of this theory is related to the work of Bolton (2010). The author has investigated the application of writing as a tool for professional development and created a functional framework to exercise one’s self-awareness improvement (Bolton, 2010). According to Bolton (2010), “through-the-mirror writing is creative, a way of gaining access to each practitioner’s deep well of experience not always accessible to everyday channels (p. 104). According to Clarke (2021), reflective writing using the approach of writing through the mirror is important for both academic and workplace settings since it allows for mastering the skill of critical and analytical thinking. When using this theoretical approach, I will be able to integrate the findings from the personality evaluation tests and my experiences in professional and interpersonal relations to gain new insights into my professional identity.
Another theoretical approach that is used within this research is the direction of the metaphor. This approach has been proposed by Hunt (2006), who claims that the use of metaphors is an effective tool in articulating elusive and highly intuitive matters of emotional and cognitive experiences. When conducting a reflective practice, one might find it easier to formulate the observed changes or issues in the form of metaphorical stories, which help unfold the abstract ideas intuitive in nature through words and images that are familiar to individuals (Hunt, 2006). Importantly, Hunt (2006) builds her theory on the ideas of reflecting on action and in action proposed by Schön (2017) and McIntosh (2008), as well as refers to the exercise of reflecting writing. Therefore, the application of this theoretical approach in combination with the writing through the mirror approach will produce significant opportunities for self-awareness improvement.
Reflective writing has been repeatedly addressed in the academic literature as an important and highly effective practice for self-awareness improvement. In a study with pharmacy students, the impact of reflective journal writing on the participants’ self-awareness was tested (Hughes et al., 2019). The students used reflective writing to engage in “prioritization, identification, exploration, recollection, evaluation, and challenging/solidifying their own knowledge, while assembling an action plan” to adjust their behaviors and beliefs for improvement (Hughes et al., 2019, p. 312). The results showed positive shifts in students’ self-awareness and better learning outcomes. Moreover, scholars have proved that reflective writing is an insightful and effective tool in assessing and improving leadership skills in managers (Lawrence, Dunn, and Weisfeld-Spolter, 2018). Thus, the use of the theoretical approaches of writing through the mirror and metaphors within the scope of reflective practice comprises a substantial framework for conducting the research project.
Research Design, Methodology and Method
The methodology selected for this research is reflexivity, which embodies a wide spectrum of opportunities for the researcher to obtain and interpret valuable information about oneself in the context of society. Since being a manager primarily involves working with people and establishing interpersonal relationships, it is essential for me to shape my self-awareness through the perspective of others. Unlike mere reflection, which involves an individual’s analysis of one’s experiences and their influence on the personality and skills, reflexion takes self-learning to a level of reflecting through the eyes of others (Ecologicaltime, 2017). The use of the results of personality assessments and the reflection of the interactions with peers and colleagues in the past allows for making relevant assumptions about the weaknesses and strengths in the personality. Reflexivity helps in shaping one’s beliefs and values in accordance with the knowledge about oneself informed by society. For that matter, the use of this methodology is particularly relevant to the self-awareness improvement of the professional identity of a manager since this position involves continuous interpersonal interactions.
Thus, the overall research is conducted using the reflectivity principles to integrate one’s reflective self-perception and the perception through the views of others. According to Alexander (2017), reflection and reflexivity “principles are expressly directed to beliefs, cognitions, and behaviors pertaining to knowledge and the process of knowing” (p. 308). Reflexivity as a research framework allows for incorporating reflection and action plan for the changes in one’s practice based on self-learning. Reflexivity is defined as an “internal dialogue that leads to action for transformative practices” (Feucht, Lunn Brownlee and Schraw, 2017, p. 234). Moreover, “reflection becomes reflexivity when informed and intentional internal dialogue leads to changes in […] practices, expectations, and beliefs (Feucht, Lunn Brownlee and Schraw, 2017, p. 234). Thus, reflexivity is capable of triggering successful professional development, especially in terms of improved self-awareness.
Method and Personal Data Sources
The choice of a research method that aligns with the methodology and theoretical direction, as well as enables reaching the research aim, is essential for successful study goals achievement. To accomplish this research, I have decided to use the method of the JOHARI Window. The JOHARI Window is a matrix that was developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 as a psychological framework that enables “awareness and understanding of own behaviors, feelings and motivation during interpersonal interactions” (Ramani et al., 2017, p. 1065). It is comprised of four quadrants representing four domains of one’s self-knowledge that is necessary for self-awareness.
In particular, the quadrants represent two sets of knowledge, namely the knowledge available from the individual and the knowledge available from others about the individual. The four quadrants in the JOHARI Window include behaviors known to self and others (known area), behaviors unknown to self but known to others (blind area), behaviors known to self but unknown to others (hidden area), and behaviors unknown to self and others (unknown area) (Ramani et al., 2017). According to Ramani et al. (2017), “the model applies to person-environment interactions and explains the role of self-awareness in professional development” (p. 1065). Thus, it allows for presenting a comprehensive analysis of the aspects of one’s behaviors from a variety of angles that might not be accessible under other circumstances. This is one of the best applicable methods for reflective practice to ensure self-awareness improvement.
As the basis for the method implementation within the research, the use of data on my personality will be informed by several tests and surveys. In particular, the sources of personal data include Personality Test, Belbin Scores, and the Life Values Inventory Diagnostic. The test for identifying the personality type was Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which helps to identify whether the person is an introvert or extrovert with specific character traits identified (Sahono et al., 2020). The results of the test showed that my personality type is ENTP, which stands for extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving. When using Belbin Scores, I managed to identify my team role types that are most likely to be performed and avoided (Fekry, Dafoulas and Ismail, 2019). The results of the survey indicated that my natural roles are plant and resource instigator. The roles that I am likely to adopt in the group include coordinator, shaper, implementer, monitor evaluator, and team worker. However, the role of completer or finisher is most likely to be avoided by me in a group.
Finally, the last source of personal data is the Life Values Inventory Diagnostic. Values play an important role in shaping human behaviors, decision-making, and interpersonal interactions (Gardner, 2009). The selected test allowed for identifying some core values that lead my beliefs, behavior, and decision-making. The results of this test showed that the highest scores indicating the highest importance were obtained for the values of creativity, independence, achievement, scientific understanding, concern for the environment, and health and activity. The least amount of scores was allocated to such values as loyalty to family or group, humility, and spirituality. These methods of data collection and analysis will be a solid basis for the research.
Critical Evaluation of the Research Design
The relevance of the selected methodology and methods for the research is validated by the compatibility of the study aim and context with the quality of data provided by the data collection methods. Indeed, since the purpose of this research is the increase of self-awareness of my values and behaviors contributing to my professional identity, the personality, values, and team role tests are the best options. They provide a complete picture of my personality within the social roles that I perform as a manager. Moreover, the choice of reflexivity as a methodology is justified by the need to reflect on my experiences using the insights from the social environment since my professional performance inherently relates to communication with people. On the other hand, the choice of the JOHARI Window as a method for this research aligns best with both the study aim and the selected methodology. Indeed, this approach fits the reflexivity methodology and is designed to increase self-awareness in general and that of reflective practitioners in particular.
Importantly, the selected methods and methodology serve effectively in the context of the theoretical approaches. When integrating metaphors and writing through the mirror for reflexive purposes, the JOHARI Window helps to structure the experiences within four groups and demonstrate their applicability to forming self-awareness for the future. In such a manner, the choice of the methodology and methods for the research is based on the rationale informed by the aim, scope, and context of the study.
As I contemplate on my life experience in general and my career path in particular, I see it as a highway along which I am driving my car. I am on the highway in the middle of my journey with the starting point behind me and the destination location in front of me. The point from which I departed is the individual who I was in the past, and the destination to which I am headed is the person I will be after I complete this journey of self-learning and improvement.
In the past, when I was at my departing point, I looked at myself through a hand mirror and a full view mirror. Even now, when I look at myself through these mirrors, I see my reflection as it is seen by those around me. From the perspective of the JOHARI Window, this view provides me with the information that is known to me and to others. In particular, I am an extrovert, an easy-going person with an intuitive personality and priority set on achievements and accomplishments. My peers know this information about me through interactions between us and I have always been acting in this way individually and in groups. In the past, I managed to acknowledge the information that was known to me and to others and did not extend the amount of knowledge in theis quadrant of the JOHARI Window, which means that I remained relatively closed without disclosing the hidden information, as well as was closed to learning the unknown and blind areas.
However, as I equipped myself with a vehicle that represents my education, knowledge, life experience, social ties, and professional skills, I started to look in the wing mirrors. They do not show me myself but give me information about the environment in which I am performing. At this moment, while I am in my car, I apply the findings from the personality tests and can state that according to the Seven Images of Self-Identity, my self-identity metaphor is the “storyteller” (Alvesson, 2010). I answer the question “Who am I” with a firm narrative ‘This is who I am’ derived from how I view my past, experience my present and see the future (Alvesson, 2010). I know my strengths and weaknesses, which are formed by my values and team behaviors.
For example, since I scored low on such values in the Life Values Inventory Diagnostic as Loyalty to Family or Group (4), Spirituality (5), and Humility (6), I now know that I need to work on them. It is through the full view mirror that I was able to notice this. When looking at it through the JOHARI Window, this knowledge was within the unknown section. Now that I have encountered this experience of self-learning, I can transfer this knowledge about myself to the known area by making it known to others through this paper.
From the perspective of the present moment and me as ‘I am,’ I look in the rearview mirror of my car to analyze my past actions, beliefs, and experiences. Knowing who I was and what challenges I have passed, I can reflect on the past to gain a better perspective for the future.
Indeed, the reflexion on my experience when working in a group during my Republic Polytechnic education in Problem-Based Learning (PBL) pedagogy was insightful. It helps me see my experience as the knowledge of myself that was unknown to me but was known to others. In other words, it used to be in the blind area, but now with my self-awareness growing, I can transfer it into my known area. In particular, the experience of working in a group both peer students allowed me to learn about the lack of humility and the excessive self-centeredness that I exhibited as a team member.
During the PBL classes, I worked in a group of five to solve the problem statement and provide a problem solution presentation at the end of the day. In class, I was full of myself and always resourceful and focused on my accomplishments regardless of the experiences of others around me. I was motivated to act in such a manner in order to achieve my goals and perform well in the class. I was insensible to the feelings of my peers, which was harmful to my ability to build meaningful relationships with peers. Now that I reflect on that experience, I understand that my limited level of loyalty to the group and insufficient level of humility were validated by my motivation to perform excellently. However, it was harmful to my team performance, which will not be effective and useful for my anticipated managerial career.
Importantly, every specific learning opportunity and self-improvement practice provides me with a chance to see my reflection in a magnifying mirror. This point of view allows me to zoom in and enlarge some issues in my personality that need to be worked on. Thus, from the perspective of who I want to be as applied to my experience with group work, I want to improve my ability to function in a group and apply my capacity as a coordinator, shaper, implementer, monitor evaluator, and team worker. These qualities will help me function in a team better and, with the improvement of loyalty to groups and increased humility; I will be able to form reliable ties with others to be an effective leader and manager.
Thus, I am riding the highway with a full tank of fuel, which is my motivation to increase self-awareness and improve my personality. I am driving toward the goal of becoming a successful and effective leader in an organization. I want to manage people with emotional intelligence, knowledge of myself, and the ability to grow professionally and personally. With the knowledge obtained through this research, I will continue to work on my self-improvement by practicing reflective exercises to gain more opportunities to function in the workplace accountably.
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