Leading by the Numbers is a nine-part series.
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses as a leader is imperative to not only leading others, but also leading yourself effectively. But the make-up of great leaders doesn’t just lay in the balance on the pros and cons scale, it is the amalgamation of intricate character traits and personal tendencies that make each of us uniquely equipped to be the leaders we are called to be.
One of the best tools available to understanding our unique make up is the Enneagram of Personality. Enneagram, derived from the Greek word ennéa or nine, predicates that human personalities can fall in to one of nine separate personality types. Discovering your Enneagram type is a great way to recognize your personality tendencies and how they affect interaction with others.
These are the nine Enneagram types.
- Type One – The Reformer Click here to read about Type One
- Type Two – The Helper
- Type Three – The Achiever
- Type Four – The Individualist
- Type Five – The Investigator
- Type Six – The Loyalist
- Type Seven – The Enthusiast
- Type Eight – The Challenger
- Type Nine – The Peacemaker
During this series, we will examine each of the nine Enneagram types and how they relate to leadership, including opportunities for growth and pitfalls to avoid. Second up, The Helper.
Type 2 – The Helper
This group of individuals are unselfish and empathetic people who strive for the greater good of those around them. Twos are caring and generous individuals who lead through humility and altruism. They pride themselves in servant leadership and their warm-hearted sincerity makes them very friendly and empathetic toward others.
Famous Type 2 leaders include: Eleanor Roosevelt, Pope John XXIII, Nancy Reagan, John Denver, Stevie Wonder, Elizabeth Taylor
Enneagram Type Twos are empathetic leaders. According to The Enneagram Institute, they are “either the most genuinely helpful to other people or, when they are less healthy they are the most highly invested in seeing themselves as helpful. This group of people will go out of their way to help those around them, focusing on the altruistic good they do for others. The Helper’s strong focus on others keep them interested in relational connections, while embracing love and closeness with friends and family. Here are a few of their strengths:
- Great Communication
- Humble and Altruistic
Because of the Helper’s nature, they tend to focus on others more than themselves, neglecting their own needs. Because of this, Twos tend to expect others to invest in them from a quid pro quo scenario: because I helped you in the past, I expect you to follow suit, which causes unknown conflict between the other person. This group of people can assume the martyr role in relationships and manipulate situations. While focused on the approval of others, they have a hard time receiving constructive criticism from others. This group of people are highly susceptible to burnout, while overcompensating energy levels due to non-empathetic, or seemingly non-caring individuals.
If you are a Two, here are a few traits to anticipate and avoid to ensure you maintain healthy levels and be an effective leader:
- Neglecting own needs
- People-pleasing tendencies
Developing into Your Best Self
Understanding where the Type Two leader may struggle is the first step to avoiding those pitfalls and focusing on being the healthiest version of yourself. According to the Enneagram Institute, Type Twos, when at their best, “become deeply unselfish, humble, and altruistic: giving unconditional love to self and others.” They see it as an honor to be invested in the lives of those around them. They are “encouraging and appreciative and are able to see the good in others.” While they are driven by servant leadership, they still understand the importance of taking care of one’s own needs.
As leaders, it’s important to not only embrace your internal qualities, but to cultivate and mature that which makes you who you are. Instead of falling into the pitfalls of negative habits, take a good inventory of your motivation for helping others. If you are wanting to help those around you for their own good and out of the abundance of your energy and margin, then you will be more effective as a leader. However, if you merely help others in expectation they will do the same or will repay you through appreciation and acknowledgement, then you aren’t being altruistic but are setting the stage for disillusionment and disappointment. Avoid this and your tendency for co-dependency by focusing on your motives before you turn to help others.
Twos also need to understand that if they aren’t addressing their own needs they will be ineffective in addressing the needs of others—which is one of their strongest character-defining traits. By addressing your own needs, you will avoid becoming resentful toward others and overcome the internal conflict that may negate the natural loving and warm disposition that makes you who you are.
Relating to Type Twos
If you aren’t a Helper, it’s good to fully understand best practices when working with and relating to Type Twos. The Narrative Enneagram encourages others to follow these guidelines with Type Twos:
- Make contact and offer approval or appreciation when prudent
- Avoid criticizing and not taking them seriously
- Pay attention to their needs
- Embrace their warm personality, adding your own sincerity to the relationship
- Don’t avoid, but rather address their dissatisfaction
In the next article of the Leading by the Numbers series, we will examine the Enneagram Type Three personality, The Achiever. These individuals are ambitious individuals who lead through charisma and drive.
Which Enneagram type are you? How has learning more about yourself and your character tendencies helped you better lead others around you? Let us know in the comments section below!