Leading by the Numbers is a 10-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.
Throughout this series, we examined each of the nine Enneagram types and how they relate to leadership, including opportunities for growth and pitfalls to avoid. Here is a recap on all nine types.
Type 1 – The Reformer
Type One individuals strive for order and serenity, and demand perfection from themselves and others. They pride themselves in completing a job well and expect the same level of professionalism in others.
Enneagram Type Ones are natural-born leaders. According to The Enneagram Institute, they are the “rational, idealistic type,” driven by the characteristics of being “principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic.” The Reformer’s strong sense of purpose gives them a unique ability to leave comfort in order to strive for higher values, embracing a sense of mission. They have a strong sense of discernment and responsibility, while leading others with a temperate, rational demeanor. They are self-disciplined leaders with a desire for justice. By accepting what is, they become transcendentally realistic, knowing the best action to take in each moment.
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.
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.
Type 3 – The Achiever
Achievers are self-assured, charming people who are highly ambitious and driven for advancement. They live with an underlying need to prove themselves, often worrying about their image and what others think of them. While they can be authentic role models when at their best, they tend to struggle with workaholism and over-competitiveness.
Enneagram Type Threes are driven, inspiring leaders. According to The Enneagram Institute, “threes really can and do achieve great things in the world. They are the “stars” of human nature, and people often look up to them because of their graciousness and personal accomplishments. Healthy Threes know how good it feels to develop themselves and contribute their abilities to the world, and also enjoy motivating others to greater personal achievements than others thought they were capable of.” The Achiever is motivated by the desire to be affirmed, distinguishing themselves from others, earning attention and admiration from others, and making good impressions.
Type 4 – The Individualist
These self-aware, sensitive individuals tend to be reserved and introspective. They have a strong sense of self-identity and purpose while taking pride in their uniqueness. Due to their innate need to express their individuality, some Fours pursue creative outlets like music, writing, art, and design. They are driven by self-expression, are in tune with their feelings, and allow their emotions to direct decisions, while withdrawing to attend to personal emotional needs before working on anything else.
Enneagram Type Fours are usually open to exploring different avenues and ways to accomplish tasks, always searching for the most ideal version of themselves. They carefully evaluate leadership decisions based on their own values, ensuring action and emotion align with one another. They inspire others with unique ideas that help the common good. Because of their own innate internal emotional intuition, they can be good at understanding others’ emotions with tact, gentleness, and compassion.
Type 5 – The Investigator
These insightful, curious people tend 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.
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 alert and competent 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.
Type 6 – The Loyalist
Loyalists 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. They tend to fight for their beliefs more than they fight for themselves.
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.
Type 7 – The Enthusiast
Enneagram Type Sevens 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.
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. 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 charisma. Because of their ability to jump from one task to the next, Sevens are extremely flexible and work well in multiple environments.
Type 8 – The Challenger
These individuals are highly determined, goal-oriented leaders who lead through competence, influence, and strength. With a dominant personality, they have a need to control their environment and situations, which can cause others to feel intimidated. Eights are driven by the desire to be self-reliant and prove themselves through strength and control, while resisting signs of weakness and limitations.
Enneagram Type Eights are charismatic individuals who lead through strength, stability, and control. Because of their innate ability to thrive under pressure, they are natural leaders who inspire others. Challengers are very protective of others, as well as themselves. They are motivated through self-sufficiency and financial independence. As leaders, Eights are hardworking risk-takers that are the “wheelers and dealers” of the world.
Type 9 – The Peacemaker
Peacemakers are creative and optimistic leaders who lead through harmony and balance. With a more passive personality, they are all-embracing and are able to unite others and mediate issues between two parties. Nines are driven by their desire to create harmony around them, to avoid conflict, preserve the status quo, and circumvent upsetting situations.
Nines are natural-born mediators, striving to bring others together in the purpose of unifying peace. According to The Enneagram Institute, Nines tend to include traits of all other types. For instance, they “can have the strength of Eights, the sense of fun and adventure of Sevens, the dutifulness of Sixes, the intellectualism of Fives, the creativity of Fours, the attractiveness of Threes, the generosity of Twos, and the idealism of Ones.” Due to the all-encompassing nature of their personality, they often do not have a strong sense of their own identity. As a leader, Nines tend to see all sides of issues affecting others.
Leading by the Numbers
Understanding your personality type and what tendencies you may have is the first step to developing into the best leader you can be for your organization. The Enneagram is not meant to put you in a box; it is meant to begin self-examination to become more aware of your strengths, as well as weaknesses, in order to understand yourself and others better. To discover your Enneagram type, take this free quiz or pay for a more-in depth version.
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!