Leading by the Numbers: What Your Enneagram Says About You as a Leader (Type 5: The Investigator)

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.

To find out yours, take this free quiz or this more in-depth version.

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. Fifth up, The Investigator.

Type 5 – The Investigator

These individuals are insightful, curious people who tend to be be able to concentrate on developing complex ideas. While they have a predisposition to become detached and preoccupied with their own thoughts and imaginary constructs, this gives them a strong sense of independence. Fives focus on innovative and inventive ideas to tackle issues and problem solve. Driven by an urge to be capable and competent, these individuals often become visionary pioneers, seeing the world and their environment in a unique way. While their key motivators are possessing knowledge and understanding their surroundings, they fear being useless, helpless, and incapable.

Famous Type 5 leaders include: Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Vincent van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Strengths

Enneagram Type Fives are creative individuals who enjoy an open-minded approach to envisioning the world, while looking at a subject in its whole context. Because of this they pioneer new discoveries and perceptions. They are incredibly competent and and alert people with an innate gift of foresight and predication through their engrossing concentration. They can become experts in their professional fields, producing original, valuable work.

As leaders, they benefit those around them with their expertise and intelligence in their field. Though they may seem detached at times, they are actually observing the situation to give the best advice and expert knowledge to help the team succeed and overcome complex problems.

Here are a few of their strengths:

  • Perceptive/Observant
  • Innovative
  • Problem Solving
  • Scholarly
  • Self-reliant, Self-assured
  • Calm in a Crisis

Pitfalls 

Due to their need to observe and gather as much information and data as possible, Fives can have a tendency to get too analytical, objective, and rational, struggling to empathize with others on an emotional level. Their strong sense of self-reliance causes issues when their fear of inadequacy overtakes their thoughts. This tends to drive the Five into isolation, further detaching themselves from co-workers, friends, and family members. Unhealthy Fives also tend to hide perceived weaknesses, denying help when offered from others. They can become preoccupied with their interpretations and visions, while avoiding reality. And due to their conceptualizing and information-seeking nature, they can develop analysis paralysis.

If you are a Five, here are a few traits to anticipate and avoid to help ensure you maintain healthy levels and be an effective leader:

  • Isolated
  • Overly intellectual
  • Eccentricity
  • Nihilism
  • Arrogant
  • Closed-off

Developing into Your Best Self

Understanding where the Type Five leader may struggle is the first step to avoiding those pitfalls and focusing on being the healthiest version of the Investigator. According to the Enneagram Institute, Type Fives, when at their best, “Attain skillful mastery of whatever interests them. Excited by knowledge: often become experts in some field. Innovative and inventive, producing extremely valuable, original works. Highly independent, idiosyncratic, and whimsical.” When Investigators let go of their need to be introspective and overcome their fear of an intrusive world, they become more self-confident and decisive, connecting with others in a meaningful way, while developing long-term, loyal relationships. By embracing the present and the internal thought life, Fives are able to share their mental capabilities with their team members.

According to the Enneagram Institute, Fives should focus on development and personal growth in these ways:

  • Notice when your thinking takes you out of the immediacy of the experience.
  • Learn to calm down, relax, and unwind to overcome the tendencies to become intense and high-strung.
  • When fixated on a problem that has many possible outcomes, get the advice of someone whose judgment you trust while you are gaining perspective on your situation, which will in turn help you develop trust in someone else.
  • Avoid the distraction over over-learning within subjects that don’t support your self-esteem.
  • Avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy aligned with lack of trust, inability to open up, and isolation issues. Pursue one ore two intimate friends with whom you are able to have conflict and growth.

Relating to Type Fives

If you aren’t an Investigator, it’s good to fully understand best practices when working with and relating to Type Fives. The Narrative Enneagram encourages others to follow these guidelines with Type Fives:

  • Respect their need for privacy
  • Create a safe space for them to share themselves and feelings on their time
  • Avoid pressuring them for immediate contact or quick decisions
  • Join in discussions about ideas and higher thinking
  • Don’t make assumptions; ask for direct communication

In the next article of the Leading by the Numbers series, we will examine the Enneagram Type Six personality, The Loyalist. These individuals are thoughtful, questioning, and information-oriented people who work through scenarios consciously and plan ahead to avoid obstacles.

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!

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