The Enneagram: Guided Leadership
In part 1 of this series, we gave an overview of the Enneagram and the value it has for raising your self-awareness. In their “Innovative Leadership Fieldbook,” Metcalf and Palmer suggest that “by enhancing self-awareness you can exercise more choice about your actions rather than engaging in patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior in an automatic, habitual, unconscious fashion. This insight alone will allow you to tailor personal and professional goals to achieve better results.”
In the same way that the Enneagram can improve your ability to lead yourself, it can also enhance your ability to guide each of your team members effectively. A colleague once told me of an eye-opening moment he had when discovering his personality, behaviors, and weaknesses. Though he was often described as a natural born leader, he had struggled to keep his team members in position long-term and was now struggling even to fill open positions. When he read the weaknesses often associated with being an eight (domineering, controlling and intimidating), he recognized the change that he needed to make in how he approached and related to his team.
Allowing The Enneagram to Guide Leadership In Your Organization
Perhaps areas or individuals in your organization are facing issues that seem systematic, but are related to weaknesses within the personalities present on the team. Even when problems are confirmed to be systematic, the Enneagram can help you leverage the gifts within each of your team members to best solve the real issues. Eights, threes, and sevens are excellent initiators, quickly gaining momentum and learning more as they go along. Types one, two and six are cooperators and will develop a deeper understanding of issues and the framework the team must work within. Fours, fives, and nines are soloists who often thrive when given a personal task to bring back completed.
To take full advantage of all the Enneagram has to offer, a deeper understanding of each of the nine personality types will need to be understood and recognizable to you as you interact with others. To develop this level of understanding, I would recommend reading “The Road Back to You.” To get you started, here are a few simple concepts that you can apply to your leadership right now.
Understanding Your Team
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of the Enneagram system is the ability to recognize and understand an individual’s inner motivations. While other personality profiles focus on the actions, an individual chooses the Enneagram helps us understand why they regularly choose those actions. For example, a friend of mine is a seven on the Enneagram, the enthusiast. Growing up with a terminally ill mother caused him to reframe bad situations in a good light regularly. “Besides,” he would inform you, “it could always be worse.”
Another friend of mine does the same thing; always giving the good news and shying away from the bad. However, she grew up in a strict home and developed a need to succeed (a three on the Enneagram). Fear of failure can lead her away from pointing out the fault in systems and projects. Both of these individuals score similarly on other personality profiles, but the Enneagram offers a perspective that allows for deeper understanding and therefore more personal and applicable coaching.
When you develop an understanding for the sources of your team members strengths and weaknesses and use continuing leadership training, you are better equipped to lead them towards improvement, better equipped to confront them with praise or correction in a manner that will be received. Even without an understanding of the Enneagram, you can ask yourself these questions:
- What seems to motivate my team best?
2. What type of tasks do my team members struggle with, and why?
3. What is one question I could ask my team members to gain a better understanding of their inner motivations?