Leading in the 21st Century
The Enneagram of personality provides a pathway to greater self-awareness and social skillfulness that lasts. It is a growth tool rooted in ancient philosophy that maps the habitual patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving of nine personality “types” or styles with surprising accuracy. As a holistic framework for understanding personality, the Enneagram serves as a roadmap you can consult any time you find yourself lost or confused by what is happening between you and the people around you.
The Enneagram framework for understanding personality speaks to anyone who would like to be more satisfied in their jobs, happier in everyday life, and more successful in their careers.
Type #1 Doing the Right Thing Is the Right Thing
The Type One archetype is that prototypical person who values structure, ethical conduct and high standards of quality above all else. Sometimes called “the Perfectionist” or “the Reformer,” Type Ones have an internal sense—a kinesthetic feeling, or “knowing”—that tells them how “good” or “right” something feels, and what that thing would look like if it matched their inner ideal of perfection. A One’s attention automatically goes to this gap between how something is and how it could be, as well as what is required to bridge that gap.
How to Tell if You Are a Type One
You have an inner-critic or “coach” that operates most of the time. This inner voice (or sense) continually monitors what you do and provides ongoing feedback about how well you did or how you missed the mark and could have done better.
- You are sensitive to criticism. While you welcome honest feedback (because you place a high value on constant attention to improvement), you feel sensitive to criticism from the outside because you are already your own harshest critic.
- You naturally think in terms of “good and bad” and “right and wrong.” You try hard to be “good” and place a high value on doing the right thing. You often can’t help seeing things in black and white, though you may have learned through time and experience to see more shades of grey.
Getting Along with Ones
Be clear and precise. Ones believe working together to get things right means being clear about goals, processes, and who’s responsible for what and how they will be held accountable.
- If you make a mistake, admit it and take responsibility. This inspires trust and assures them that you will come forward and own and fix whatever you do wrong. Ones don’t like mistakes, but they can forgive people who take responsibility for them.
- Demonstrate that you value quality. Ones will feel more comfortable collaborating with you if you are aligned around this central goal.
Type #2 The Power of Pleasing People
The Type Two archetype is that prototypical person who wants more than anything to be liked and appear likable. Though sometimes called “the Helper” or “the Giver,” these names can actually be misleading, because the Type Two style is not so much about altruistic or universal “giving” as it is about strategic support in the service of establishing friendly alliances and connections. A Two’s attention automatically goes to the people around them and how to best forge positive relationships by managing impressions and interactions.
How to Tell if You Are a Type Two
- You see the work you do through the lens of your relationships. You think of work as based on (and happening through) good relationships and seek influence through doing things to gain positive regard, admiration, and approval.
- You are motivated by pleasing, impressing, or wanting to support others. You work hard, and you want positive feedback that validates your efforts and reassures you that you are doing a good job. Helping seems like the quickest road to being liked and valued.
- You seek to excel so that the important people in your life will think well of you. It’s crucial for you to be appreciated by others—especially others you like or view as important, but also by people you don’t like.
Getting Along with Twos
Offer support. Twos want to know that you’re on their side and you have their back—that they can trust you to support them when they need something. If a Two knows they can trust you to be generous with them, they will be willing to do anything for you.
- Give them space to do their best. If you want a Two to do something well, don’t rush them. Twos want to do their best and add value and not let anybody down, so they need time to prepare and figure it out.
- Match their level of passion and dedication to the work and the team. Show equal commitment and enthusiasm and they will see they are not alone in putting their heart into the work they do.
Type #3 The Compulsively Productive Professional
The Type Three archetype is that prototypical person who wants to do the best job possible to achieve a given objective and look good doing it (and because of it). Sometimes called ”the Performer” or “the Achiever,” the Type Three style is all about creating an image of success through working hard to achieve the best results, competing to win, and accomplishing tasks to gain status.
How to Tell if You Are a Type Three
You see the work you do through the lens of how to do the best job possible in the most efficient way. You strive to be productive, effective, fast, and efficient. You are driven to work hard to achieve success in whatever you do.
- You focus like a laser beam on goals—you always think in terms of “what is the goal and how can we get there in the most direct way?” You naturally see work in terms of specific goals to be achieved and the steps and tasks that need to be accomplished to get to the goal. And if someone or something gets in the way you work around them or it (no matter what the cost).
- You are good at reading an audience. You tune in to what the people around you see as admirable, effective, and attractive, and automatically assess what others view as the best way to be or appear or do things.
Getting Along with Threes
- Be competent and get shit done. Threes like coworkers who they can trust to do a competent job and do what they say they are going to do. Meet your deadlines, do quality work in a timely fashion, and be accountable when your work is not up to par.
- Leave them alone to do what they do. Threes like to have the freedom to get things done quickly on their schedule. It’s best not to bother them with stuff they don’t find meaningful or relevant to the work that needs to be done.
- Be mindful of Threes’ preferred pace. Threes move fast. Your work pace may not be as rapid as theirs, and sometimes there will be unavoidable slowdowns, but it will help you to help them if you understand how very much they like things to move along quickly.
Type #4 The Power of Authentic Self-Expression
The Type Four archetype is the prototypical person who wants to be seen as unique and special in the things they do and the way they relate to others. A Four’s attention automatically goes to his or her connectedness (or lack thereof) to others, to noticing and sometimes idealizing (or complaining about) what’s missing, to evaluating the authenticity and aesthetics of things, and to making comparisons to other people.
How to Tell If You Are a Type Four
- You see the work you do through the lens of your internal experience. Your work is based on (and happens through) your connection to your emotional life and your inner experience of the things you do and the people you interact with.
- You want to be seen and understood as who you feel you uniquely are. It’s crucial for you to be appreciated by others as who you understand yourself to be on the inside, not as who others might perceive (or misperceive) you to be.
- You seek to connect with others in meaningful ways and disdain superficiality. You have a hard time doing small talk because you seek depth and meaning.
Getting Along with Fours
Understand them. Fours are sensitive to feeling misunderstood, so if you make a sincere effort to understand them, you will take a giant step toward getting along with them. (However, it bears repeating: they will be the judge of whether you understand them or not, not you.)
- Let them express emotions without reacting or “fixing” them. If you let them vent their emotions and make a sincere effort to hear them out, those emotions may subside and the underlying issue may resolve itself. If you don’t, they won’t and it won’t.
- Let them know you value them and their unique contribution to the work. Fours long to be recognized for what they do that expresses their singular gifts. Take the time to tell them you appreciate them, and be specific about why.
Type #5 The Knowledgeable Observer or the Quiet Authority
The Type Five archetype is that prototypical person who “lives in their head.” Sometimes called “the Observer” or “the Quiet Specialist,” Fives focus on information and data and feel most comfortable engaging with people on an intellectual or mental level. A Five’s attention automatically goes to data and facts, and how to produce results through collecting and analyzing the best information, while the Type Five style is all about examining human interaction from a safe distance, maintaining boundaries, and relating to people through knowledge rather than emotions or actions.
How to Tell if You Are a Type Five
- You see the work you do through the lens of the information that needs to be mastered to get the job done. You enjoy doing research on whatever topics interest you or help you further clarify or do the work you need to do.
- You feel more comfortable with data and facts than people and emotions. You automatically tune in to the mental level of what’s going on and detach from whatever feels overly emotional.
- You enjoy being alone and need a great deal of private time. You don’t need to be around other people to be happy. Much of the time, you would rather be alone than with people.
Getting Along with Fives
Respect space and time. Fives will appreciate you if you set appropriate time limits and stick to a clear schedule. Avoid busting in on them unannounced to talk about your weekend or a personal problem or whatever you are upset about. Have the courtesy to make an appointment and don’t use work time for personal issues.
- Check in, but in short bursts and measured doses. We all need to communicate on a regular basis when we work together, but when collaborating with Fives, it will go well if you check in with them periodically and briefly and stick to the point.
- Straightforward, but thoughtful communication. Fives don’t like to expend unnecessary energy when communicating—so plan ahead, focus only on what’s necessary for an optimal information exchange.
Type #6 The Skeptical, Vigilant Troubleshooter
The Type Six archetype is the prototypical person who seeks certainty and security, but often doesn’t find it. A Six’s attention automatically goes to reading people and situations to determine how trustworthy or safe they are. Primarily motivated by fear, though not always aware of it, they test and question people, continually asking, “Can you be trusted?” “Will something go wrong?” and “How can we be prepared if the worst happens?”
How to Tell if You Are a Type Six
- You see the work you do through the lens of what might go wrong. You are a consummate troubleshooter and contingency planner. You excel at noticing the problems that might occur at each stage of a work process.
- You ask a lot of questions as a way of making sure products and procedures are thoroughly checked out and all goes according to plan. You can’t help doubting what people say, but your real intention is to solve problems ahead of time so fixes can be planned and disasters can be avoided.
- You automatically try to poke holes in people’s plans to test how solid they are. You have a hard time just accepting things at face value—you feel motivated to think about “worst case scenarios” as a way of preventing them from actually happening.
Getting Along with Sixes
- Be trustworthy. Your Six coworkers will be watching and listening to you closely to read whether you support them or not. It will help if you are honest, open, and clear about what you think and what you are going to do and why. And remember that it can take time to earn someone’s trust.
- Be patient with their questions. It’s important to let Sixes ask the questions they need to ask. Although they can go overboard, they often ask the tough questions that no one else will—and they can relax more when they have the information they need.
- Understand and respect their fears and worries (and don’t judge them for being fearful or anxious). You will get farther faster with the Sixes in your life if you don’t try to talk them out of whatever they are worried about. If you take their fearful stance as a given, and support them in doing what they need to do, they will have an easier time feeling less fear or forging ahead despite their fear.
Type #7 The Innovative, Optimistic Visionary, or Focusing on the Future
The Type Seven archetype is that prototypical person who wants, more than anything, to feel good (and not bad). Sometimes called “the Epicure” or “the Adventurer,” Sevens want to stay happy, experience pleasure, and imagine all the creative possibilities connected to whatever interests them
How to Tell if You Are a Type Seven
- Your mind emphasizes the positive data or positive elements of your work. You enjoy envisioning future possibilities and learning about things that interest you—and you find many things intellectually compelling.
- You have “bright shiny object” syndrome. You are distracted by engaging ideas to think about and other attractive things that pop into your field of vision or your head.
- You are easily fascinated by interesting people, events, and ideas. You like learning new things, going to new places, and meeting new people—you love the thrill of new experiences and novel adventures.
Getting Along with Sevens
Be upbeat and positive. Sevens appreciate people who are pleasant and fun to be around. They will enjoy working with you if you endeavor to be enjoyable to work with and keep the mood light.
- Work to achieve mutual respect and appreciation. Sevens will be happy to respect your preferences and your freedom if you show respect for theirs. They want to feel appreciated and will happily appreciate you if they like you and experience you as easy to be around. Be a good team player and Sevens will enjoy being on your team.
- Avoid excessive negativity and criticism. Sevens like to focus on what’s positive, so they can be bothered—and even alienated—by people who express a large amount of negativity. They are usually open to legitimate criticism, but if it doesn’t have an obvious constructive purpose, they may feel hurt and resentful.
Type #8 The Powerful, Decisive Activator
The Type Eight archetype is the prototypical person who thinks big, acts decisively, and makes things happen. Sometimes called “the Challenger,” or “the Boss,” they’re larger-than-life people with big energy who easily take on leadership roles. An Eight’s attention automatically goes to the “big picture”—to what they think should happen and how to make their vision a reality.
How to Tell if You Are a Type Eight
You see the work you do through the lens of how you can assert your power to get what you want done. You naturally read what’s happening in terms of who has the power and how they wield it. It’s so natural for you to be powerful, you sometimes have to hold yourself back from expressing your strength so you don’t overpower people or situations.
- People tell you that you intimidate them, which surprises you, since you aren’t doing anything to intentionally intimidate anyone. Others sometimes perceive you as a bully, even though you are just doing what you normally do.
- You don’t have to be the leader, but it’s easy for you to take charge. You often get drawn into taking the lead—it feels easy and natural for you, and people often look to you for direction, even when you aren’t the actual leader.
Getting Along with Eights
Don’t beat around the bush. Tell the truth and don’t sugarcoat it. When you send them an e-mail asking for something, put the request in simple terms up at the top—don’t bury it at the end of the fourth paragraph.
- Don’t give them a book when they want bullet points. Be brief, direct, and to the point.
- Be competent and be able to work independently. Your Eight coworkers will be very happy if they can trust that you will do your work and do it well and in a timely fashion—without them having to follow up with you or end up doing it for you.
Type #9 Leading from Consensus, Modeling Inclusion, and Defusing Conflict
The Type Nine archetype is the prototypical person who focuses on others and seeks to create harmony and avoid conflict. Primarily motivated by a need to evade discomfort and tension, they adapt (or over-adapt) to others and try to make sure everyone is heard and included. Nines focus on other people’s agendas, go with the flow, and support others without drawing attention to themselves.
How to Tell if You Are a Type Nine
You see the work you do through the lens of what works best for the most people. You genuinely want people to get along and enjoy working together, and will do everything you can to ensure they collaborate in positive ways and feel supported.
- You like harmony and dislike conflict. You feel good when your environment is free of tension. You avoid tension and conflict because you believe conflict leads to separation, and separation is painful.
- You try to avoid conflict situations by helping mediate disputes and being diplomatic in the way you state your views (if you state them at all). Often without even thinking about it, you say or do things—or avoid saying or doing things—to restore or maintain a feeling of peace in your environment.
Getting Along with Nines
Be peaceful and kind and make an effort to make a personal connection with them. Nines usually don’t see a reason not to be nice. They lead with friendliness and warmth and will assume people are trustworthy until they prove otherwise. The Nines you work with will appreciate your efforts to get to know them on a personal level and create a positive working atmosphere where people get along.
- Value everyone’s opinion, including the Nine’s. When at all possible, Nines like to lead by consensus. They tend to be democratic diplomats who believe everyone’s input is valuable. If you demonstrate clear respect for everyone’s point of view, including theirs, the Nines in your life will probably admire you and want to work with you.
- Understand their sensitivity to conflict and criticism. Try not to stir up trouble or initiate a conflict unless it’s absolutely necessary. When Nines perceive that someone is venting or indulging their anger in a way that threatens to create conflict, they may feel uncomfortable and withdraw or get angry with the angry person. They can at times express the fury of a peacemaker—they will become upset if someone is making others upset. And—if you have a conflict that’s even slightly heated, make sure to circle back with them and make an effort to repair things.