How to use Enneagram for leadership

Enneagram is an ancient, nine-point system has a great track record in terms of helping people interact with each other. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a self-development addict , a business owner or just unlucky with love, there’s bound to be space for Enneagram in your life. 

Enneagram takes into account your natural state of being – that is when you’re acting on instinct or feelings instead of learned behavior that was nurtured into you by society. It puts you into one of the nine personality types characterized by numbers one to nine. 

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Although some types are seemed as more desirable in society (like the enthusiastic Seven or the charismatic Three), Enneagram doesn’t favor one type over the other. Each type is unique with its own character, instincts, strengths, and weaknesses. That’s why numbers were used more often than names — numbers retain the neutrality that names don’t provide.

Unlike a lot of personality theories, it doesn’t try to box you into a type. In fact, you’re likely to see a bit of yourself in all of the types. It does, however, determine your dominant type, which is the type that you operate with most of the time. If you haven’t already, take this easy 3-minute test to determine your type. It’s okay; we’ll wait.

As human beings, our mental states fluctuate between good and bad depending on the circumstances that we’re in. Enneagram acknowledges that, and it gives us clear pointers to grow into the best possible person we could be under the worst circumstances. 

Like any tool, Enneagram helps you to navigate life easier by understanding why people (or yourself) do what they do. It may seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll find that the path towards fulfilling your own potential so much more satisfying than just casually coasting through life.

How does Enneagram help you become a better leader?

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1. It promotes self-awareness

What type do you think Princess Diana and Adolf Hitler are? Both individuals left behind vastly different legacies. One did great things for her nation and one committed one of the most heinous crimes against humanity. So they’ve got to be completely different types, right?

They are both Type Six, albeit at different levels of spiritual health.

In Enneagram, your behavior manifests differently in healthy, average or unhealthy levels. A Level 2 Seven is enthusiastic and eager, while a Level 8 Seven acts out on impulse or go into erratic mood swings. This measure helps you determine if you’re a great boss or the devil himself. It gives you objectivity and the opportunity to correct some of your worst behaviors. 

The healthier you are on your level of development, the more you can leverage the positive behavior from your type to become a better leader. When you notice your unhealthy behaviors emerging, you can put an end to it by taking a step back and work on yourself more. 

2. It makes you an empathetic leader

Another interesting about Enneagram is its recognition of underlying emotions – shame, fear, and anger. Each type is guided by one of these negative emotions. 

For example, underneath the charm and charisma of Threes, is fear. Fear of being worthless and fear of failure. Some people struggle with their underlying emotions all their lives. Some choose to disengage life or flat out refuse to acknowledge it. 

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But healing comes with understanding and acknowledgment. By understanding how these underlying affect your behavior, you can begin to heal from it and process these emotions in a healthier, more beneficial way.  

Healing doesn’t only apply to you; it also applies to your employees. When you embark on your spiritual journey guided by Enneagram as your shaman, you’ll start to see some of your employees’ struggles. It helps you empathize with them since you’re also working on yourself. When you help yourself heal, you also help your employees heal.

3. You can communicate better as a leader

Being well-versed in Enneagram also does wonders for your communication skills as a leader.

Effective communication depends on two factors: how well you convey information and how well the other party receives it. By dealing with the internal bias you have from your type, you’ll be able to say more than just ‘do it because I tell you to’. You’ll be able to communicate better based on a clear line of thought and the ability to convey that to other people. 

You can also change your communication style based on who you’re talking to. Emphasizing or reframing certain factors to persuade or assure your employees is definitely an acquired skill that could be made easier with Enneagram. When you understand your employees’ type, you can tweak your communication style so that they are more receptive to it. This would make your job infinitely easier and also keep your employees happy and motivated. 

We do caution against frivolously typing other people since it has the potential to do more harm than good. So make sure you know the other person’s type for sure before you start using communication techniques that cater to them. 

4. It creates a healthy work environment

Think of an organization as a human being and the leader as the brain. 

Without a healthy brain – psychologically or physically – the body suffers. It’s the same way with organizations. Without a healthy leader, the organization is bound to suffer from unhealthy habits as well. 

With a self-aware leader, you’ll encourage a culture of spiritual awareness and healing in your organization. It’s especially obvious if you weren’t a good leader in the beginning since the change would be drastic. By addressing the issues you have with yourself, you stop the chain of negative events that stems from your core emotions.

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A culture of spiritual awareness and willingness to grow is beneficial to your company as well. When everyone is on the same page, communication and relationships become better. Instead of being caught up by inexplicable feelings, your employees and you can start addressing those issues and work towards a mutually beneficial goal. 

That being said, personal growth is personal and you can’t expect everyone to change just because you did. However, by starting to address issues you find in yourself, you create an encouraging environment where everyone can do the same. 

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