What’s Your Enneagram Leadership Style? - E-Mediate

What’s Your Enneagram Leadership Style?

It’s one of those tricky interview questions no one’s ever really quite sure how to answer: “How would you describe your leadership style?” It’s enough to make even the most savvy leaders hesitate, and the lesser ones freeze completely.

Very often, the way in which we describe ourselves as leaders is based solely on feedback we’ve had from others, and not from any real self-awareness. And yet, effective leadership is heavily dependent on self-awareness and self-management. When you understand your Enneagram personality type, you develop a far greater awareness of your strengths and potential derailers. From this, comes the realisation of how you can achieve real and transformative growth – for yourself and your team.

The Enneagram model is highly effective at helping companies develop specific leadership traits among their management team, and provides an outstanding developmental plan for better decision-making, successful relationships, and getting results.

The Nine Enneagram Leadership Styles

Graphic of all personality types

Type One

Ones have a management style influenced by their fondness for guidelines and strict accountability. Their projects often go over time and over budget because they love to spend hours poring over plans, lists and diagrams. They tend to be inflexible in their thinking, preferring old solutions rather than looking for new direction. They are great leaders when structure and meticulous planning are needed, but are ineffective if on-the-spot decision making is required.

Type One leaders struggle to delegate, as trusting others to do something to their exacting standards is difficult. Mentoring employees is a great way to overcome this. Valuing their perspective and input, and trusting that they are capable of doing the task well, takes huge pressure off you.

Type Two

Twos are effective leaders, but can get caught up in their need to be seen as helpful. They like to develop key people, rather than sticking to a prescribed management structure. Their tendencies to flatter and people-please often means they struggle to take a firm stand when needed. They have a somewhat idealistic vision of the ideal business – striving for a prosperous, well-cared for and tight-knit community that flourishes under their nurturing care.

Type Three

Leadership is a Three’s preferred habitat, and where they feel most at ease. When Threes are aware of their personality type, they are a force to be reckoned with – and a formidable competitor when in full motion. They are prone to tunnel vision – there’s no room for second guesses when you operate at full speed.

When they’re not aware of their type, Threes often believe they are worthless, and this is reflected in their leadership style. They use overachievement as a way to prove themselves, and are often highly successful as a result. However, this success is often only achieved at the expense of authentic emotions and personal relationships.

Threes should understand that they can still be exceptional and inspiring leaders without having to be the brightest star in the sky. Appreciate that your true value doesn’t come from the position you hold within a company, but on who you are as a person.

Type Four

Fours like to portray themselves as “unique” or “special,” but this is usually an overcompensation for their inner belief that they are somehow flawed and don’t really fit in anywhere – personally or professionally. This filters through into their leadership style – they lead with vigour when there is something to prove, but are oppressed by detail and routine. If they are shown how to let go of their “cover story,” they make gifted and intuitive leaders. Like Threes, they need to be reminded that their self-worth is not connected to their success.

Type Five

Type Five leaders are highly observant, but this can lead to them appearing detached from their team. In fact, lack of accessibility is a common complaint about Fives. They are thinkers and analysers, rather than doers, preferring to lead from behind closed doors. This is why they are often found in a team with a more assertive, “in-the-trenches” type of leader, such a Three.

Fives excel at high-level thinking, and can extrapolate core information from a seemingly confusing mass. They hold their nerve in the short term, and are not prone to panicking as long as the essential basics are in place.

Type Six

Sixes are born leaders, but they don’t want all the credit. They are excellent trouble-shooters, excelling in times of adversity. In fact, they often lead with more strength and clarity when the company is in trouble than when it’s doing well. They are skilled at planning for worst-case scenarios, even though this ability stems from their general lack of trust in their team’s support.

When they are at their best, a Six’s innate ability to focus on the detail is a key factor in ensuring their team’s success.

Type Seven

As leaders, Sevens are ideas factories. The challenge, however, is ensuring they carry these ideas through to fruition, as they are easily distracted by the next exciting thing that comes along. They have a fear of missing out on experiences and opportunities, so are always pursuing new activities with boundless enthusiasm.

When Sevens learn to focus and prioritise their efforts, they can be a gift to any organisation, bringing brilliant insight and vision. They are convincing verbalisers, and find it easy to drum up support for their ideas. They thrive in fast-paced environments, but tend to stagnate when faced with repetitious responsibility.

Type Eight

Eights love to be in control. If this is threatened, they will often resort to bullying to gain it back, and can be demanding or even vengeful. They don’t respond well to being given poor or incorrect information, and their first instinct is always to look for someone else to blame.

You will always know if an Eight is displeased with your performance, but you can take “no news as good news,” as they are not known for giving positive feedback. Conversely, Eights always expect to be kept in the loop. No news is not even bad news, it’s death!

At their best, however – when their control is not threatened – they are magnanimous, strong leaders. They are dominant and assertive, and are extremely effective in the start-up stages of operations.

Type Nine

As leaders, Nines are usually kind and even tempered, with a grounded leadership style. However, their desire for harmony and peace means they are inclined to overlook problems that could have a significant impact on the organisation. When faced with a potential conflict situation, Nines like to disengage. This can be extremely frustrating for their teams, who are looking to them to step up and take a stand.

Nines really come into their own as leaders when they can combine dealing effectively with whatever their team is facing, while still maintaining their calm and serene nature.

If you’d like to find out more about Enneagram, and the amazing impact it can have on your team dynamics and productivity, contact Ellen Edwards on 082 940 2486, or email her at ellen@emediate.co.za.