The Dos and Don’ts of Managing an Enneagram Type 8

Enneagram Type 8s are naturally headstrong and like to take charge, even when leadership is not part of their job role. That can make them very hard to manage! 

You can usually get the best out of the Enneagram Type 8s on your team by encouraging the competitive, ambitious aspects of their personality, whilst controlling their tendency towards heavy-handedness. Here are some dos and don’ts, so you can help them shine. 

DO utilize their energy and confidence

The best managers fill their team with a sense of purpose. This ‘inspirational’ style of management is essential when it comes to managing Type 8s, as these types can quickly become disillusioned with tasks that they feel are pointless.

You can utilize the natural energy and sense of purpose of Type 8s by sharing your long-term goals with them. Giving them the big picture will help them see the value of their role. Creating an aspirational, competitive work environment will energize Type 8s who will in turn energize those around them. 

Don’t forget to reinforce good behavior and celebrate your team’s successes when they come. This kind of encouragement will help to motivate your Type 8s to work even harder, so you can keep the good times coming!

DON’T micromanage

Many people crave autonomy at work and Type 8s are no exception. In fact, they crave autonomy more than most. Some managers fear giving their team too much independence, but this absolutely is the key to increasing productivity and job satisfaction for Type 8s.

Resist the urge to stamp your authority on Type 8s. If you make it clear who your employees are accountable to and leave no ambiguity as to who is responsible for what role, there’s no need for you to micromanage your team. Have the confidence to let them do their jobs and be a source of inspiration, not frustration.

DO make sure they are kept busy

As well as craving independence, Type 8s thrive in dynamic, challenging working environments. They like to feel like they are genuinely making a difference in their work and their pet peeve is not having anything to do. Type 8s are not the kind of employees who will be content to twiddle their thumbs and scroll on social media! 

If they don’t have enough going on, your Type 8s will quickly become disillusioned in their work and start looking for opportunities elsewhere. So, one of the best ways to manage a Type 8, and ensure you only get the best parts of their personality, is to keep them busy. Make sure they always feel challenged and let them be a driving force in the team.

DON’T expect too much

At the same time, the can-do attitude of Type 8s can sometimes mean that they take on more than is good for them. Their ambition means they will readily accept any challenge, so you need to be aware of how much work you are sending their way. It can sometimes be the case that workaholic Type 8s end up carrying other team members, doing extra work to make sure tasks get finished. Keep an eye on what’s going on. 

Don’t forget that Type 8s can still get burnt out just like everyone else. They will be reluctant to show weakness and will very rarely admit when things are getting to be too much. As a manager, you need to be aware that even the most capable members of your team can get snowed under and might need digging out.

DO expect to need to earn respect

One of the key aspects of managing Type 8s is being able to stand up to their challenges to your authority. You need to be prepared for them questioning your ability to lead the team. This is not a personal insult, Type 8s do this kind of thing to everyone! 

The worst possible way to react to a Type 8 is with an overly bullish attempt to convince them that you are the boss. This will have the opposite effect and you will lose their respect in an instant. Instead, respond to challenges in a calm and confident manner. Type 8s don’t expect you to be perfect but they do expect you to be a competent leader. Bear this in mind and don’t be affronted when they try to test you.

DON’T let them dominate the team

On the flip side, it’s also really important that you don’t let Type 8s dominate the team dynamic. You ultimately have the final say so don’t be tempted to bend to every whim of the Type 8, just because they are shouting the loudest.  It’s important that there’s enough space for everyone in meetings and group discussions. 

If you feel like a Type 8 is taking over - or talking over others - then you need to step in to reset the balance.

DO create a supportive environment

As well as wanting to feel in control, Enneagram Type 8s like to feel that they are trusted. In a supportive work environment, Type 8s will often naturally encourage and lift up those around them. This personality type enjoys leading people and they can be extremely nurturing and positive team members. 

You can help to draw out this side of the Type 8 personality by creating an environment in which they feel supported. Sharing feedback with your employees in an open and honest way is one way to do this. You can also encourage trust by admitting when you make a mistake, showing that you are human and you expect your team members to be as well. 

DON’T assume they know what they’re doing

Finally, it’s important to bear in mind that Enneagram Type 8s are extremely good at ‘talking the talk’ and appearing proficient in everything they do. Their natural confidence always shines through, and this can obscure the fact that they may be struggling.  As a result, many managers fall into the trap of assuming that a Type 8 knows what they’re doing, even when they don’t!

To get around this, make sure that you always insist on thorough training. Type 8s might act like it’s an inconvenience to them but this step makes sure that your team has the skills they need to do the job properly.

At the end of the day, Type 8s can make fantastic, supportive, go-getting team members. You just need to work on drawing out their good side whilst keeping their not-so-good side under wraps!

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