A Business Model for Nine ways to Work Together
He who knows others is learned. He who knows himself is wise. –Lao Tzu
Breakdowns and disruptions that hinder an organization’s advancement rarely have to do with unskilled employees. In Good to Great, Jim Collins discovered that “good is the enemy of great is not just a business problem. It is a human problem.” What if there was a system that would enhance your ability to synergize greatness? What if this knowledge prompted you to respond insightfully to a peer’s best intention? What if this tool could shed light on the filter you use to approach all of life?
“Spiked success” is very different from sustainable greatness. Organizations cannot afford to ignore the human dimension differences that permeate the workforce. How willing are you to honestly explore the personality patterns that lead your organization to greatness or … undermine it?
The tool of choice to value and manage who you are at work and what you are not is the Enneagram (pronounced “ANY-a-gram”), from the Greek “nine” (ennea) and “figure” (grammos). It is a nine-pointed geometric figure that maps out a system of nine basic viewpoints that include nine different ways of working together. Combining spiritual wisdom and modern psychology, the Enneagram system offers a cultural view that one’s true mission in life is to understand all people through compassion rather than judgment.
There are many helpful instruments human resource groups and corporate trainers can utilize to improve and advance their employees’ performance—at all levels. Choosing to draw on more than one assessment method in the workplace uncovers a richer understanding of an individual’s leadership strengths and challenges. For example, to more accurately target the individuals’ behaviors, you can overlay the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (four preferences with sixteen personality types) as the longitudinal perspective with the Enneagram pinpointing the latitude point of view. Invaluable components are revealed when skilled presenters overlay several indicators.
Diverse organizations, such as lawyers, engineers, non-profits, government agencies, psychologists, executive coaches, and Fortune 500 companies look to the Enneagram to:
- improve and deepen communication
- reveal leadership tendencies
- expedite strategic planning processes
- expose group dynamics
- recognize a client’s viewpoint
- uncover conscious assumptions (closely held opinions)
- solve problems
- remove preconceived notions
The Enneagram system does not compete with other indicators, so it is not necessary to discard other tools. You can expect to genuinely enhance your understanding of behaviors and attitudes by incorporating the Enneagram into your toolbox. Keep in mind, personality instruments are not to put you in a box, but rather to help you recognize the box you are in. Knowing your Enneagram filter allows you to diminish your habitual patterns of perceiving and create a space for discerning the value of others.
Not Just Another Personality Tool
What could be obtained if everyone signed on to learn their “Enneastyle”? National director and vice president of a consulting engineering firm, Keith Ferguson has been studying the Enneagram for over fifteen years, “Learning the Enneagram helped to reinforce the fact that each person has unique gifts to offer and some fundamental roadblocks that stand in the way. The Enneagram reinforces the awareness that no one personality is the best but that we all can make a real difference when we discover the greater gifts that we have and can learn to offer them without conditions. Second, it has helped me to rise above the typical personality ‘ego’ battles that take place in the workplace and to stay focused on higher ideals.” Employees utilizing the Enneagram learn how to clear their mind so discernment is possible to achieve the greater good of the company’s goals.
As you discover which one of the nine Enneastyle “flavors” resonates with you, you will perceive more about your original whole self. The Enneagram teaches that we are different in significant ways. The names associated with the nine Enneagram types represent an angle of the type:
- Type One: The Perfectionist/Humanitarian/Reformer, strives to do things right; has a strong sense of what is right and wrong.
- Type Two: The Giver/Pleaser/Helper, need to be needed and valued, and to help others.
- The Three: Achiever/Producer/Performer, has a need to be productive, work hard and succeed.
- The Four: Romantic/Individualist/Connoisseur, wishes to explore deep passions and be understood; leads others to new depths.
- The Five: Observer/Sage/Investigator, seek objective information to know and understand everything to master the game.
- The Six: Questioner/Troubleshooter/Loyalist, worries about problems, has a need for safety and security, and wants to be prepared.
- The Seven: Enthusiast/Epicure/Adventurer, needs to be happy and avoid pain; enjoys planning new ideas or possibilities.
- The Eight: Boss/Leader/Challenger, seeks to be strong and exercises power to keep control.
- The Nine: Mediator/Peacemaker/Unifier, merges with others to bring all sides together to avoid conflict.
Understanding personality types can only communicate ideas about each type’s reality, not reality itself. At work, each Enneagram type has a characteristic agenda and operates within a particular decision-making frame. A partner in a law firm, Thomas Kanan, said, “The Enneagram system of personality classification is a tool for self-knowledge. It is used as a means of understanding the motivation of others and their preferred working styles and problem-solving techniques. The Enneagram is unique in its ability to be used almost immediately in everyday business and social settings for enhancing communications with others.”
Engaging, yet practical, each Enneastyle at work names a set of behaviors that can be examined and understood without recrimination. Interpersonal issues shift from blame (the other person’s viewpoint is defective) to perceiving the point of view from that person’s approach. Theresa Hart is a Fortune 500 manager and an Eight, said, “The Enneagram is an invaluable tool to advance team building activities. My knowledge has helped me understand myself, my actions as a leader and my subordinates’ reactions to my leadership style. We have avoided needless wastes of time and conflict.”
Opportunities to Transform Belief Systems
As a business model for nine ways of working together, the Enneagram presents a powerful insight to help people face and work through their limitations in order to achieve their full potential. Learning your Enneagram preference can be a powerful catalyst for positive personal change to enhance your effectiveness as a leader; hence, sustain long-lasting greatness. The Enneagram facilitates change in these ways:
- Allows awareness of present patterns. The Enneagram enhances self-awareness to identify what is and the direction to how you would like to be. It is a motivational model, not a behavioral model. Therefore, it is best to determine your character type through a process of discovery, focusing on the compulsion or “driving force” of each style versus relying on questionnaires. Mr. Kanan is a Nine and believes that to be loved and valued one must blend in and go along to get along. Consequently, Mediators are self-forgetting, harmony seeking, comfortable, and steady, but also conflict avoidant and sometimes stubborn. He is under enormous pressure to practice law, participate in the management of the firm and work with strong personalities, “It is fascinating to me how I now can react to my own habitual practice in a more effective and successful manner. Understanding my type, I have become more decisive and assertive which increased my confidence to express and maintain my boundaries.”
- Disrupts or eliminates patterns. Limitations, long-held belief systems and fears are blocks or barriers to what you may strive for at work. Stuck in repetitive loops, the story of who you are and who you aren’t can be revealed when you stop the old behavior sets. As a result of surrendering your belief systems, you can change. The Enneagram opens you to the experience of others, and helps you get out of your own way. It reduces the breakdowns that paralyze people against working more easily and efficiently together.
- Chooses new patterns, attitudes and responses. Expanding your awareness about human individuality is a fascinating process. The Enneagram is not only comprehensive, illustrating a full range of human potential, but it is also dynamic, revealing ways in which each person can grow and maximize his or her potential at work (and home). A Three, Keith Ferguson said, “Without the Enneagram, it is much easier to keep getting pulled back into the quagmire of interpersonal competition and defensive behaviors.”
Few organizations seek to design and implement a noble legacy that transcends generations. Stuck in workplace positionalities, organizations hover around being good. Jim Collins wrote, “Good is the enemy of great.” The key component to achieving greatness requires an intention to provide training and coaching that concentrates on valuing personality distinctions, such as the wisdom-based Enneagram.
About the Author:
Global speaker Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert. She is an internationally published author, human potential consultant, corporate trainer and behavioral coach. Sandra’s expertise allows her to focus on the tricks and traps of the human condition through recognizing and interpreting courage behaviors and courageous leadership styles.
Featured on the speaker circuit as witty, provocative, concrete and insightful, she has sparked positive change in the lives of thousands of leaders each year. Sandra also provides skills-based programs for some of the most respected public and private blue-chip businesses and organizations in the world, such as IBM, Caterpillar, Inc., Institute of Internal Auditors, Hensel Phelps, Wide Open West, Agrium, Inc., Virginia Commonwealth University, Xanterra Parks & Resorts®, Procter and Gamble, Hitachi Consulting, US Bank, Healthcare Association of New York State, Institute of Management Accountants, and Delta Kappa Gamma International Society.
The internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman and an honored author selected for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Sandra facilitates individuals and groups to discover the power and inspiration of their everyday courage.
The COURAGE Difference at Work: A Unique Success Guide for Women, Sandra’s follow-up book to COURAGE, is directed at any woman, regardless of title or credentials, who wishes to grow professionally by introducing courage actions at work. Her third book, FACE IT! 12 Courageous Actions that Bring Success at Work and Beyond confirms that what holds you back on the job is the same as what hinders achievement—the reluctance to face and live a courageous life. Sandra is published in magazines such as Chief Learning Officer, Training & Development, Accelerate (Malaysia), Real Simple, and Strategic Finance.
Sandra is a certified Newfield Network coach and certified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® along with the Enneagram. She also instructs at the University of Denver.
The 9 Enneagram Personality
Types at Work
“To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. –Aldous Huxley
Each of the nine Enneastyles is rooted in a specific viewpoint or belief structure that largely determines what is important to you and how you interact with the world to fulfill your hopes and dreams. Naturally you interpret other people’s behaviors through your own lens of looking at things. Your stance becomes your baseline. Working from the strengths of your type brings forth transformation and enhanced communication skills.
The Enneagram describes nine basic worldviews and nine different ways of doing business in the world. The description of the nine distinct personality types each reflects a different pattern of thought, feeling and action with their own natural gifts, limitations and blind spots. Aldous Huxley said, “To see ourselves as others see us is a most salutary gift. Hardly less important is the capacity to see others as they see themselves.”
The Enneagram divides the nine types into three groups. In the three triads, each type is different in important ways:
- Heart Center or The Feeling Group (Two, Three and Four) are concerned with people and are sometimes called the image or vanity points.
- Head Center or The Mental Group (Five, Six and Seven) put their trust in ideas (idea is Greek “to see”). They are the visual people who like to analyze. Fear is their central concern.
- Gut/Belly Center or The Sensing/Action Group (Eight, Nine and One) has central issues of will. They ask, “Whose will is more powerful, yours or mine?” Each has a characteristic issue around anger. They make decisions based on how it was done before.
Below is a brief synopsis of the nine personality types:
2 The Helper; Supporter; Lover; Giver; Pleaser; Enabler; Mentor:
The Two is feeling-based with an emphasis on relationship and empathy. They will go the extra mile to please others at the cost of taking care of self. Their own needs can become sublimated or expressed indirectly. They are considered the classic co-dependent personality. When their generosity is taken for granted they could become demanding, and tend to have a pattern of unavailability. They are heart-centered with an emphasis on feeling worth by loving others. “I give myself away to get love.” They need to be needed.
People: Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Theresa (redeemed), Arsenio Hall, John Denver
“People depend on my help. I am needed.”
3 The Achiever; Performer; Motivator; Communicator; Manifestor; Star:
The Three is feeling-based with an emphasis on success and achievement. They enjoy working hard, being successful and producing what is expected of them. They work hard to embody the definition of high accomplishment that is held in esteem by their cultural milieu. They have a tendency to lose touch with their authentic inner selves. They like to remain connected to what makes them worthy of being loved. They are image-conscious with a desire to feel worthwhile and accepted. Being performers, they can get addicted to performing. They are heart-centered with an emphasis on being a winner. “I can do it” because they need to succeed.
People: Elvis Presley, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Mary Kay, Madonna
“The word values a champion. I must avoid failure.”
4 The Individualist; Romantic; Seeker; Artist; Tragic Victim; Innovator:
The Four feeling-based places an emphasis on authenticity and aesthetics. They like to look deeply within their own vibrantly intense inner world to search for a means to express the emotional depth that they feel. They have a tendency to be withdrawn and sensitive to beauty and meaning, but may be prone to melancholy, feelings of inadequacy, and envy. They see themselves as fundamentally different from others; consequently, no one can understand them or love them adequately. “You’re not like the fantasy. Something is missing. I have been abandoned.” They need to be special.
People: Janice Joplin, Michael Jackson, Edgar Allen Poe, Jackie Onassis, Jeremy Irons
“Something is missing. Others have it. I have been abandoned.”
5 The Investigator; Observer; Sage; Expert; Specialist; Synthesizer:
The Five is thinking based with an emphasis on being knowledgeable. They like to accumulate knowledge and protect personal autonomy. They keenly observe phenomena with astute detached awareness. Using intellectual depth and insight, they often make original and innovative associations. They accumulate knowledge in preparation for taking action. They tend to be the most independent of the nine types. They believe the world is invasive so they need privacy to think and recharge. “I don’t want to look foolish.” They need to perceive.
People: Albert Einstein, Bobby Fisher, Lily Tomlin, Jane Goodall, Bill Gates
“The world is invasive. I need privacy to think and to refuel my energies.”
6 The Loyalist; Truth-Sayer; Questioner; Guardian; Doubter; Partner:
The Six thinking is based with an emphasis on creating security. They may behave as either phobic or counter-phobic. They are usually friendly and well liked, loyal and sincere. They use perception and intellect to understand the world and to figure out whether people are friendly or hostile. They have a tendency to imagine worst-case scenarios, so they prepare mentally to be safe. “What if?” They need to protect self.
People: Princess Diana, Tom Hanks, Katie Couric, Rush Limbaugh, Jay Leno
“The world is a threatening place. I question authority.”
7 The Enthusiast; Generalist; Connoisseur; Epicure; Visionary; Adventurer; Futurist:
The Seven is thinking based with an emphasis on multiple options. They are always thinking ahead, moving towards better possibilities and more enjoyable experiences. They tend to be extroverted, busy, productive, optimistic, and spontaneous; they distract themselves by staying on the go. Their compulsive desire is to avoid being deprived, bored or in pain which may lead to difficulty with commitment and follow-through. They live in the future with a type of “monkey-mind” that jumps quickly from one idea to the next idea, and it all seems connected. “The world is full of opportunity and options. I look forward to the future.” They need to avoid pain.
People: Robin Williams, Goldie Hawn, John F. Kennedy, Steven Spielberg, Lucille Ball
“The world is full of opportunity and options. I look forward to the future.”
8 The Asserters; Boss; Challenger; Warrior; Protector; Leader:
The Eight body-based type places an emphasis on control through personal authority. They present themselves as strong, self-confident and direct. Resourceful, decisive and protective, they want to be in charge. They tend to express themselves powerfully and like to maintain control, and they live with intensity, and fight for the underdog. They show anger freely. Everything is a contest of wills and they seldom back down. “Are you against me or with me?” They need to be against.
People: Jesse Jackson, Mikhail Gorbachev, Barbara Walters, Susan Sarandon, Donald Trump
“The world is an unjust place. I defend the innocent.”
9 The Mediator; Peacemakers; Unifier; Comforter; Optimist; Diplomat:
The Nine body-based shows an emphasis on harmonizing with people, task, or environment. Typically have a feeling of serenity and ease that they prefer not to have disturbed. They are easy-going, unpretentious, creatures of habit, jack-of-all-trades, and good-natured. There is a tendency to passively resist anything inharmonious or distressing by tuning it out. They seek personal balance and achieving harmony with other people. They are good at seeing all points of view. Creatures of habit, they can be stubborn and neglectful. “Keep the peace. The world won’t value my efforts anyway.” They need to avoid everything.
People: Gerald Ford, Kevin Costner, Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Ronald Reagan, Ringo Starr
“The world won’t value my efforts. Stay comfortable. Keep the peace.”
1 The Reformer; Perfectionist; Humanitarian; Reformer; Idealist:
The One body-based type places an emphasis on control by rules and structure. They have an internal picture about what a standard of perfection looks like against which everything and everyone (including them) is measured. They are preoccupied with being good, driven to do the “right” thing or what should be done. They are prone to repressed anger. “There is a better way.” They need to be perfect.
People: Martha Stewart, Martin Luther, Mahatma Ghandi, Celine Dion, Margaret Thatcher
“The world is an imperfect place. I work toward perfection.”