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 of 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
- 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. Sixth up, The Loyalist.
Type Six – The Loyalist
These types are committed individuals who tend to be hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. They are usually great troubleshooters due to their innate skepticism and security-orientation, which helps the Six foresee potential problems and pitfalls. They are driven by the need for security and support from others around them, while fighting against anxiety and uncertainty. According to the Enneagram Institute, Sixes are labeled The Loyalist due to their loyalty to their friends, beliefs, ideas, and systems. They tend to fight for their beliefs more than they fight for themselves.
Famous Type Six leaders include: Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Robert F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Aniston, Malcom X, George H. W. Bush, Ellen Degeneres.
Enneagram Type Sixes are extremely responsible and organized individuals who, when at their best, exude courage, positive thinking, and strong leadership. They use perception and intellect to understand the world around them and focus on protecting those in their circles, as well as affiliated organizations. They are natural problem solvers, creating internal scenarios and anticipating problems in order to more effectively handle any potential situation. This rare gift allows the Loyalist to bring a unique leadership quality to help those around them be successful. When leading in their healthiest state, Sixes trust those around them, giving them the ability to focus on details that affect their teams while allowing others to work freely.
Here are a few of their strengths:
- Strategic thinking
- Clear communication style
Due to their nature, some Sixes can be overly cautious and skeptical, which can cause hesitation and procrastination. They can sometimes have a tendency to react to others through passive aggression. Being loyal and relational people, they may also struggle with abandonment issues and fears of being without support. This may cause a false sense of loyalty, which can align with more co-dependent behaviors. Driven by a lack of self-confidence, some Sixes might feel they don’t have the necessary attributes, skills, and internal resources to handle challenges and situations on their own, so they tend to use support mechanisms, structure, and outside resources as a crutch. Being aware of their anxieties and fears, Loyalists work toward creating security structures and networks of trust, which can create a false-sense of security causing further issues.
If you are a Type Six, here are a few traits to anticipate and avoid to help ensure you maintain healthy levels and be an effective leader:
- Over-active imagination
Developing into Your Best Self
Understanding where the Type Six leader may struggle is the first step to avoiding those pitfalls and focusing on being the healthiest version of the Loyalist. According to the Enneagram Institute, Type Sixes, when at their best, are “self-affirming, trusting of self and others, and independent yet symbiotically interdependent and cooperative as an equal.” They “elicit strong emotional responses from others: very appealing, endearing, lovable, and affectionate.” Healthy Sixes can be community builders, sacrificing for others, and stability creators with those around them.
According to the Enneagram Institute, Sixes should focus on development and personal growth in these ways:
- Understand the purpose of anxiety, explore it, and come to terms with it.
- Be aware of pessimism and avoid letting it take over your thoughts and create self-doubt.
- Identify what causes you to overreact and understand that worst-case-scenario-thinking can help prepare you for problems but shouldn’t cause fear.
- Become a more trusting individual.
- Understand that others aren’t out to get you, and most likely, have a more positive viewpoint of you than they think.
Relating to Type Sixes
If you aren’t a Loyalist, it’s good to fully understand best practices when working with and relating to Type Sixes. The Narrative Enneagram encourages others to follow these guidelines with Type Sixes:
- Be consistent and trustworthy
- Disclose your own personal feelings and thoughts.
- Appreciate their attention to problems; agree on rules and procedures.
- Join them in acknowledging what can go wrong before moving ahead.
- Put your cards on the table as much as possible – don’t be ambiguous.
In the next article of the Leading by the Numbers series, we will examine the Enneagram Type Seven personality, The Enthusiast. These individuals are highly excitable visionaries who lead through enthusiasm, sensation, and experience.
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!