While the Type 8 is called the Leader or the Boss, all nine of the distinct Enneagram personality styles have the potential to be excellent leaders. Whether you lead as a Perfectionist Type 1, a Peacemaker Type 9 or any of the types in between, you too can be a great boss. But with each Enneagram personality style, there comes unique management challenges, distortion filters and blind spots.
Below we’ll outline how you can be a better boss, based on your Enneagram type.
Type 1, the Perfectionist: Gain Perspective.
One of your strengths is your attention to detail, and we appreciate that you are hardworking, fair, work to a high standard, and are reliable. But as a boss, sometimes you lose perspective and get bogged down in the detail. You can’t always see the forest for the trees, as the saying goes. It's great that you pour so much energy into every single detail, but it’s important to maintain perspective and occasionally zoom out to access the big picture.
Tip: Take some time at least once a week to review the long term goals and make sure you and your team are taking the big picture into account. Your team also appreciates it when you remind them what they are good at and when you compliment a job well done. We know your mind focuses on improvement but keeping the morale of your team high is important too.
Type 2, the Helper: Stand Your Ground.
Your friendly, warm style makes the whole team feel welcome and included, and your sincere interest in your team members as individuals earns you lots of goodwill along the way. But sometimes you are a little too agreeable, and you don’t hold a hard line on important issues.
Tip: Stand your ground and don’t be afraid to voice disagreement or dissatisfaction. You become a better boss when you balance your agreeableness with a keen eye on the business’s goals, and you don’t give up professional priorities for likeability. Your team actually feels safer under you when they know you will stand your ground.
Type 3, the Achiever: Slow Down and Listen.
You are an achievement machine and chances are, you are one of the high performers in your workplace. We love the way you set your sights on a goal and pursue it relentlessly. But sometimes your fast-paced, goal-oriented work style can make you impatient with your team, especially if they are having trouble keeping up or if they need to bring you bad news.
Tip: You do better when you slow down, really listen and engage with your team on a deeper level. You grow as a leader when you don’t trample on or disregard people who you view as standing between you and your goal. Collaboration is important, and there need to be lots of seats at the table for a project to truly succeed. When others are speaking, listen and notice how the team dynamic improves.
Type 4, the Individualist: Let It Go Sometimes.
You are a rare asset because you bring an emotional fluency and an understanding of deeper intention to the workplace. The subtle clues, the unspoken issues, the invisible emotional current isn’t lost on you. This unique perspective allows you to see issues long before they become critical problems and can be a huge asset to your team. But sometimes you tell people things they aren’t ready to hear, and you’ve been known to force issues that would be better left until a later time.
Tip: Not all issues need to be addressed immediately and some organically resolve themselves in the future. Yes, office politics are real and yes, unfair favoritism is bad business, but it is not all equally important. To be a better leader, you need to let some of the small stuff go.
Type 5, the Investigator: Engage More.
You are the ultimate hands-off boss, and everyone who hates being micromanaged loves working under you. Research-driven and thorough, you give your team a lot of personal freedom and autonomy. But sometimes you take it a step too far, and you can seem remote and unavailable even when we need you to show up. Interdependence can be challenging for you but to grow as a boss, we need you to engage more.
Tip: Share more of your time, energy and physical presence on an individual level and bring your team together more often on a group level. Effective communication is a subtle thing and when you are too absent, you don’t get the best work from the people working for you.
Type 6, the Loyalist: Stop Projecting.
You have a keen eye for risks, danger and potential threats, and this gift has helped your team successfully navigate lots of thorny situations. We know we can count on you for danger assessment, and your proactive approach to potential problems is commendable. But sometimes you get confused about reality and imagine problems where there are none.
Tip: Always check the facts before you get too wound up and don’t take action until you’ve confirmed your assumptions are based in reality. You have a subconscious tendency to project that doesn’t always serve you. Stay grounded and ask yourself, “Do I have actual facts to back up this concern or am I acting from a place of anxiety?” You are a better leader when you stay firmly planted in today’s reality.
Type 7, the Enthusiast: Consider the Negative.
Your strengths as a leader lie in your upbeat attitude, your strategic, expansive thinking, and your drive to keep the work environment fun and entertaining. Your team appreciates this a lot and when the company is doing well, they love working under you. What they appreciate a bit less is how you seem physically pained when they want to discuss the details of a project or how you seem distracted and disengaged when they want to talk about what is going wrong in their assignments.
Tip: You grow as a leader when you slow down, consider all angles of a scenario, and value negative input from your team. It’s great to celebrate your team’s success, just make sure the project is over the finish line before the party begins.
Type 8, the Leader/Challenger: Connect on a Human Level.
Your decisive, direct management style is exactly what we need in a turnaround situation, a crisis, or anytime bold action is required. You know how to get things done, how to eliminate obstacles, and your fearless attitude is admirable. But you probably don’t realize how much your direct style intimidates your team members and how they sometimes inadvertently withhold information from you because they are afraid of your reaction. Even if you’ve learned to manage your anger, your direct reports feel its intensity lurking just below the surface.
Tip: Take the edge off the situation by taking your team out to lunch now and then to connect with them on a human level. You soften your edge when you show up socially, and seeing you outside of a strictly work environment eases the tension and greases the wheels of communication. If you can make the office feel less like a battlefield, everyone wins.
Type 9, the Peacemaker: Don’t Disappear.
Your mellow, soothing energy and your inclusive, low-drama management style are great for keeping harmony and an even keel at the office. You are great at de-escalating problems between team members, and you are liked wherever you go. But every now and then, a real issue arises that needs direct attention. Your conflict-avoidant, passive-aggressive tendencies don’t serve you well here. You can’t avoid your team just because things are going well. You can’t ignore emails because your customers aren’t happy.
Tip: Take your management skills up a notch and engage in healthy conflict. You won’t vanish if you tell your direct report his performance isn’t up to standards. And you won’t lose your job if you meet with your dissatisfied customer who represents 20 percent of the company’s revenue. In fact, it’s very likely you can save that business. We just need you to be more direct.
These are some tips to become a better manager, and while this is just the tip of the iceberg, the Enneagram offers a detailed path to increase your self-awareness, improve your communication, and have better team dynamics. Every Enneagram type has the potential to be an amazing leader. The key is to focus on bringing your strengths, not your weaknesses, to the workplace.