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. Seventh up, The Enthusiast.
Type 7 – The Enthusiast
These types of individuals are highly excitable visionaries who lead through enthusiasm, sensation, and experience. They tend to be extroverted, optimistic, and spontaneous with high levels of energy and spirits. They are driven by the need to maintain their freedom and happiness, as well as pursuing new experiences, while avoiding pain, hardship, and deprivation.
According to the Enneagram Institute, Sevens are labeled The Enthusiast due to their enthusiastic approach to everything that interests them or catches their attention.
Famous Type Seven leaders include: Galileo Galilei, Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, Amelia Earhart, John F. Kennedy, Elton John, Katy Perry, Steven Spielberg, Bette Midler, and Robin Williams.
Enneagram Type Sevens have an infectious enthusiasm for life that can easily excite those around them. Their unending desire for new experiences drives their creativity and generation of new ideas and concepts. Their effervescence helps engage others with an optimistic approach to a problem or task. While having a tendency to be distracted, when an Enthusiast is able to focus on a worthy cause, they are able to use their energy, imagination, and vision to achieve overwhelming feats, encouraging team members to buy into the same vision with excitement and enthusiasm. Because of their ability to jump from one task to the next, Sevens are extremely flexible and work well in multiple environments.
Here are a few of their strengths:
Due to their nature, Sevens have the tendency to not following through on projects. Their pursuit of the next best thing or a new experience may cause a lack of focus on the here and now. Their enthusiasm and thirst for life can cause some Sevens to burn out and lose the energy and excitement that defines them, causing some to move from different projects, professions, or passions at unsustainable rates. The fear of stagnation and boredom drives motion, but also creates a lack of focus. Unhealthy Sevens can develop a habit of not listening to others’ input, while developing narcissistic tendencies. Enthusiasts tend to use rationalization as a defense mechanism to explain or justify behaviors in order to avoid pain and responsibility. This trait can often materialize through viewing the world with rose-colored glasses to protect from suffering and problems associated with the present reality.
If you are a Type Seven, here are a few traits to anticipate and avoid to help ensure you maintain healthy levels and be an effective leader:
- Pain avoidant
Developing into Your Best Self
Understanding where the Type Seven leader may struggle is the first step to avoiding those pitfalls and focusing on being the healthiest version of The Enthusiast. According to the Enneagram Institute, Type Sevens, when at their best, “assimilate experiences in depth, making them deeply grateful and appreciative for what they have.” They become “highly responsive, excitable, enthusiastic about sensation and experience.” Healthy Sevens can be accomplished achievers, productive, practical, and prolific, commonly becoming multitalented individuals who do many different tasks well.
According to the Enneagram Institute, Sevens should focus on development and personal growth in these ways:
- Recognize impulsive tendencies and focus on which impulses are worth pursuing.
- Practice listening to others and learning from their experiences and advice.
- Appreciate silence and solitude, understanding there is no need to distract and busy yourself to protect against anxiety.
- Understand the joy of patience; immediate gratification isn’t always the best for you.
- Choose quality over quantity to allow for full focus on each experience or project.
Relating to Type Sevens
If you aren’t an Enthusiast, it’s good to fully understand best practices when working with and relating to Type Sevens. The Narrative Enneagram encourages others to follow these guidelines with Type Sevens:
- Join them in having fun and envisioning new possibilities.
- Appreciate their stories and positive ideas.
- Let them know what you want or need from them.
- Encourage them to not avoid painful situations and commitments, as well as accept responsibility attributed with their actions and thoughts.
- Listen to their suggestions and avoid insisting on one way of doing things.
In the next article of the Leading by the Numbers series, we will examine the Enneagram Type Eight personality, The Challenger. These individuals are highly determined, goal-oriented leaders who lead through competence, influence, and strength.
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!