Do you see what I just did there?
If you’re familiar with the Enneagram I hope you appreciate the irony, or if you’re still fuzzy or new to the conversation, then I invite you to read along.
Yes, the Enneagram can be confusing, and at times feels like a secret language. People who know about it will quickly jump into, “I’m an 8,” “I’m a 3,” “I’m a 7, wing 6.”
Which may lead you to say, “I have no idea what that means.”
In short, the Enneagram is simply a map for self-discovery and personal growth. It is an ancient personality system that recognizes 9 inherently different (and yet connected) personality types that frame and describe the why behind what you think, feel, and do.
Got it figured out?
The Challenge of the Enneagram
The inherent challenge of the Enneagram is that nothing with it is brief. It takes time to understand, and even more effort to utilize as a leader. Even so, I am convinced that it is a proven leadership tool for individuals and teams to lead themselves better.
The hard work of leadership always begins with the most difficult person we will ever lead: ourselves.
So, if you are looking for a quick fix or silver bullet strategic process to grow your own leadership and the impact your team can make, this is not the tool for you.
It’s more like a long road trip that happens one mile at a time, and if you don’t understand how to read the map, you can get turned around, lost, or in a fight about the exit you just missed.
Why Does it Matter for Leaders?
Every leader has to first lead themselves, and the Enneagram will help you as a leader grow in your self-awareness by understanding the “why” behind what you think, how you feel, and the ways you behave.
The wisdom of the Enneagram is that it gives comprehensive language and precise description to 9 different ways people show up. Its language describes how you experience the world and how others experience you in the world.
And that is also why it matters for teams.
Why Does it Matter for Teams?
When individuals are willing to do the hard work of understanding who they are and why they do what they do, they will also begin to understand who others are and why they do what they do. I contend that leadership always begins with an individual leader and their willingness to lead themselves for the sake of others.
The Enneagram is important for teams because it can tell us what gifts we have and don’t have on our team.
In my approach to the Enneagram, I find that the names of the 9 different types tell us so much. What gifts does each type bring to the world? What dynamic tension are they always trying to resolve? In some ways, each number is a superpower, which is both a leadership gift and task to manage.
So here they are: 9 reasons the Enneagram matters for leaders and teams (and yes, these are the 9 Enneagram types because we need all of them).
One more disclaimer: There is a variety of names for the 9 types, and I think all the resources enhance our understanding of each. In what follows, I invite you to notice what these descriptions communicate about each type’s leadership gift and potential struggle. Think superheroes discovering how to use their superpower for good or ill.
Where Do You Fit?
1. The Moral Perfectionist
Principled | Purposeful | Self-Controlled | Perfectionistic
We see what is wrong and we make it better.
2. The Supportive Advisor
Generous | Demonstrative | Loving | Hospitable
We see where to help out and we say yes.
3. The Successful Achiever
Adaptable | Excelling | Driven | Efficient
We get stuff done 24/7, 365. What else do you need?
4. The Romantic Individualist
Expressive | Creative | Authentic | Introspective
We make the world and its people beautiful; make sure you let us feel all of it.
5. The Investigative Thinker
Perceptive | Innovative | Curious | Objective
We observe, think, and then think some more. You may need to ask us what we are thinking.
6. The Loyal Guardian
Engaging | Responsible | Prepared | Practical
We are reliable and consistent. You should always have one of us on your team.
7. The Entertaining Optimist
Spontaneous | Versatile | Acquisitive | Confident
We have more ideas and energy than all of you, and we don’t have an off button.
8. The Protective Challenger
Self-Confident | Decisive | Compassionate | Resilient
We are who you want to take to a fight or close the deal. Everyone should have one of us in their life.
9. The Peaceful Mediator
Receptive | Reassuring | Generous | Diplomatic
We smile because we believe we can all get along.
All 9 of these personality types matter, and have the potential to make significant leadership contributions to any team, business, and organization.
I invite you to take a one step forward your own leadership growth through the power of self-discovery that the Enneagram provides.
It matters for you, and it matters for those you lead.
Take a step!