This blog post is part of our Truity at Work series for those who are new to people management. In these posts, we’re creating useful content for managers and teams alike, helping you to understand personality, improve communication, and navigate conflict and change with ease. For an overview of the series, start with our introductory post here.
The definition of great leadership has changed. In the past, a leader was defined as someone who took charge, managed the flow of information and controlled the process, someone who could make things happen and supervise the people tasked with execution.
Over the past few decades that definition has shifted. Instead of focusing on technical expertise, the ability to manage people has become the priority. Whether that’s called servant leadership, collaborative management or participative leadership, all focus on managing people instead of managing the process.
Collaborative management focuses on developing a series of people skills such as delegation, coaching, resolving conflict and creating a positive working atmosphere. Those skills require us to understand how humans work holistically: how they grow and develop, how they react to challenges and how they reach their potential. It allows space for people to bring their whole self to work, including their emotions.
But we can’t bring out the best in others unless we first understand ourselves. We need to know how we impact others, what we value and what we don’t. And, we need to know how we react emotionally to different situations because we can’t help others manage the reactivity of others until we know how to manage our own.
That’s one of the reasons that traditional management continues to survive: it's far easier to learn technical skills than to slow down and learn about ourselves.
This is where the Enneagram can help. Knowing our biases can help us observe and work with them more easily. It can help us have more compassion for people whose concerns we just don’t quite understand. It can help us step beyond our defaults and stretch into the best possible version of ourselves we can be, as humans and managers.
How each Enneagram type can improve their collaborative management
As you might imagine, Eights and Threes are more naturally suited to traditional management style, and Nines, Twos and Sixes are more suited to collaborative management. But each Enneagram type can adapt and each type has important skills that they bring to the table, as well as key areas they need to improve on.
Enneagram Ones - relax and become more agile
As leaders, Type Ones focus on excellence. They ensure their teams produce high-quality material with a focus on continuous improvement. They provide clarity to their team, clearly articulating expectations and plans. They inspire others to meet higher standards by being a good role model and acting with integrity.
One leaders can also be rigid, critical and micromanaging, even if they don't realize it. Sometimes they can try to improve what is already working and be too detail oriented. They can expect others to work as they do, pressuring them to work long hours in order to reach impossible standards.
One leaders need to learn to relax and realize that sometimes agility is more important than perfection. They need to get in touch with their playful side, and allow a little more lightness into the workplace to create a better balance between work and play.
Enneagram Twos - let others go their own way
As leaders, Type Twos focus on being there for their team. They are good listeners and provide emotional support, helping people cope in different ways. They are personal and warm, paying more attention to the relationship and the other person's needs.
That said, in order to feel needed, Two leaders can make themselves the center of every process. They can selectively praise people and be informal when a more professional approach is called for.
Twos need to be more mindful of their hidden drive to be indispensable. By getting in touch with their own needs and feelings, they can start to discuss what isn’t working, become more open to others’ points of views and enable team members to go their own way.
Enneagram Threes - slow down and delegate
As leaders, Type Threes are practical, driven, efficient, and in charge. They are competitive and goal oriented, and they inspire their team to focus on winning and looking good while doing it. They can inspire others about what can be achieved.
However, they fear that unless they are at the center of the action, the whole project will collapse. Hence they struggle to delegate or allow others to shine. And if things do go wrong, they can blame their team as a way to distance themselves from the sense of failure.
Three's benefit from getting more in touch with their feelings and values. By slowing down, they can appreciate what others have to contribute and how to help them grow. By taking the spotlight off themselves, they can bring the team together and create more room for collaborative projects
Enneagram Fours - focus on what’s working
As leaders, Type Fours are innovative, creative and have a clear vision. They can create things no one else thought of and want to ensure it looks and performs a certain way. We don’t see many Fours in leadership roles, but when they are, they challenge people to be their very best by pushing them outside their comfort zone.
Not everyone shares the Fours ability for emotional expression. Their teams may not quite know how to approach them if they are “moody.” But they are able to bring emotions into the workplace and air issues others would shy away from – both of which benefit the team's ability to work together.
Fours benefit from balancing their emotional intelligence with flexibility around the creative vision. They should aim to be more practical and focus on what’s working.
Enneagram Fives - communicate enthusiastically
As leaders, Type Fives are strategic, see the big picture and have specialized knowledge in a technical field or area. They are humble, self-deprecating and calm in a crisis. They prize self-sufficiency and allow people to work in the way they want to.
However, Fives can be slow to make decisions and teams can get frustrated by the lack of practical action. Fives can also be overwhelmed by the workload, which further slows them down from delegating and directing the team. They may not share enough information for their team to act on.
A Five’s team benefits when they share more information and communicate with more enthusiasm. It is also helpful when Fives go beyond ideas and focus the team on taking practical action.
Enneagram Six - trust yourself
As leaders, Type Sixes are quite balanced. They can switch between the big picture and the details, between saying yes and no, being there for others without being too imposing. They are very transparent communicators, wanting to share their thoughts on a topic.
However, they can struggle to get outside their minds. They can make others anxious with their own fears and anxieties. And, they can struggle to trust their team or their boss, asking a lot of questions to help them feel more sure about the people they are working with.
Sixes need to start trusting their own strengths and authority. It helps when they can focus on what's working, celebrating wins and being grateful for what’s working.
Enneagram Seven - follow through, even when it’s boring
As leaders, Type Sevens are engaging, optimistic and inspiring. They treat everyone the same and create a positive working environment. They encourage the team to brainstorm new ideas and look at situations differently.
However, Sevens have a hard time when things aren’t working. They can avoid giving feedback, talk in a roundabout manner or be excessively positive. They also struggle with a manager's routine tasks.
Sevens need to look at the negatives as well as the positives. They need to know when to shift from brainstorming to prioritizing. And they need to follow through, whether it’s on a new project or the repetitive tasks required of a manager.
Enneagram Eights - be patient and listen
As leaders, Type Eights excel at making things happen. They are quick to leap into action and prioritize doing over analyzing. They can be courageous, inspiring their teams to take bold action to increase their impact.
However, Eights can struggle to slow down to listen to other’s views. Their desire to be decisive and move fast can make a team dependent on them for decision making, which will ultimately slow the team down and reduce its impact.
Eights need to get in touch with their own vulnerability, which allows them to slow down to be more in touch with others' vulnerabilities. That helps Eights be more patient and listen while still having a big impact.
Enneagram Nines - share yourself more
As leaders, Type Nines are great listeners. They make people feel heard and included, which helps create a safe and positive work environment. They are patient, see how things will pan out in the long run, and allow people to do things their own way. They help create consensus and resolve conflict.
Nines struggle to give more praise to a higher performer, or give feedback to someone who is struggling. They prefer to treat everyone the same. They hold back their view on how something should be done, but get frustrated when things go off track.
Nines become better leaders when they put themselves in the picture, sharing their views and opinions, and making decisions for the team. It helps if they can get in touch with their anger and use that to provide greater direction and structure for the team.
If you are a leader, or thinking about stepping into a leadership role, now is the time to get clear on your leadership style. Review the nine styles above to see which ones resonate with you the most and the least. Once you can see your own biases, you can start to work with them.
While each Enneagram type has its own strengths, the more entrenched and reliant we become on those strengths, the less effective we actually are. So use Enneagram's insights to help you step beyond the limitations within your default style, aiming to become an even better version of yourself. In turn, that will enable you to be a more patient, compassionate and collaborative leader.
Looking for an overview to share with a colleague? Take a look at my video here.