The Enneagram and Leadership

The Enneagram is changing the way leaders look at their team members’ strengths. While most personality profiles focus on what actions an individual is likely to perform or what they are most likely to value, the enneagram will help reveal the root causes and motivations behind these unconscious patterns.

As described in The Road Back to You by Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, “The Enneagram teaches that there are nine different personality styles in the world, one of which we naturally gravitate toward and adopt in childhood to cope and feel safe. Each type or number has a distinct way of seeing the world and an underlying motivation that powerfully influences how that type thinks, feels and behaves.” This level of understanding leads to a far more impactful self awareness or a new and deeper perspective into the strengths and weaknesses found within yourself and your team members.

Enneagram and Leadership

If you have been in leadership for a long period of time, chances are you have learned and applied multiple personality profiling methodologies into your leadership toolkit. They can be quite helpful as leaders seek to understand and influence a variety of team members, all with different viewpoints and values, in their workplace. Studying more than one of these tests will often leave you to a predictable conclusion. “This category in the myers briggs is simply another way of describing this category in the DISC test.”

I have a friend in leadership who is a personality profile junky. He has studied and read about multiple personality profiles and has taken nearly every online test you can imagine. Early on in leadership he stumbled across the DISC profile and had the team members he had assembled around him take it as well. What he discovered was shocking. All of the team members he had attracted or promoted shared his traits of either a “high D” or a “high I” trait (for an overview of the DISC profile, click here). He discovered his own inability to attract and retain team members with contradictory, and therefore complementary, traits of S and C. The struggles facing his department were suddenly perfectly clear.

Personality profiles are capable of having this kind of positive impact for any leader. But if you have already studied personality profiles, why should you study the enneagram if most lead you to the same conclusions? Because the enneagram is different. No matter if you are most interested in self awareness, coaching team members, communicating effectively or conflict resolution, the enneagram will give you a perspective unlike any other. In part 2 of this series, we will be discussing the enneagrams ability to impact and improve upon your ability to lead your team, but the remainder of this article will focus on the most difficult person to lead: yourself.

The Importance of Self Awareness

When a leader improves, an entire organization improves, and the best way for a leader to improve is to develop a higher sense of self awareness. Using the enneagram can help you discover your inner motivations, positive or negative, coping mechanisms and perspectives. This is as important to self awareness and personal growth as any leadership training. According to Maureen Metcalf and Mark Palmer in Innovative Leadership Fieldbook, “It elicits a clarity that will help you make decisions without being governed by the bias of your own perceptions, even as you naturally experience them in any given occasion.” To begin that personal journey for yourself, I suggest you begin by reading The Road Back to You. To focus on the enneagram’s impact on your team and leadership take a look at article 2 of our series -coming soon!- and the book Innovative Leadership Fieldbook.

Chris Craddock

As the leader of Projections' production team, Chris loves to inspire others to perform at the highest levels! From the most challenging leadership opportunities to brainstorming the latest topics leaders want to learn about, Chris provides clear direction and vision.