July 05, 2024 by Dede Henley

Bring Out The Best In Your Leadership With This Transformational Tool

shutterstock_2105622380_6x4x1000-sm.jpegPreviously published on Forbes

Let’s face it, when you’re under stress and strain at work, it’s likely that you aren’t giving your best. In fact, stress often brings out the small and narrow parts of each of us. If you’re like me, you may become strident, perfunctory or over-focused on getting stuff done, to the exclusion of relationships. What’s your pattern under stress? And are you able to switch to your strengths? Do you know what they are? 

Success as a leader today requires raising your level of self-awareness, adaptability and emotional intelligence. It means paying attention to yourself, to your impact and to others. To bring out the best in yourself and those you lead, I recommend a tool called the Enneagram. Rather than one global prescription for what good leadership looks like, The Enneagram describes nine diverse archetypes of leadership. It’s a profile of strengths, challenges, fears and motivations. 

Understanding your Enneagram type provokes insight by showing you a way of seeing yourself and others that you may not have considered before. This process expands awareness and perspective, and, ideally, as you learn more about yourself and your teammates, your empathy and effectiveness will grow. 

Instead of referring to each of the nine types by a name or label, I prefer to identify them by their number, one through nine. As you scan each of the types below, see if any of them resonate with your motivation and strengths as you know them. 

Enneagram Type One

Motivation: Doing the right thing, avoiding mistakes, working towards self-improvement and self-control. 

Strengths: Dedication to doing great work, high level of personal integrity, high standards of quality, strong sense of responsibility.

Enneagram Type Two

Motivation: Being helpful and dependable, providing for the needs of others, anticipating people's needs. 

Strengths: Natural ability to empathize, willingness to work hard, interest and skillfulness in collaborating with others, generosity in giving to others.

Enneagram Type Three

Motivation: Achieving goals, presenting an image that supports what success means to them, being productive, performance. 

Strengths: Ability to get jobs done well and quickly, confidence and determination when working toward goals, resourcefulness and tenacity, emotional sensitivity. 

Enneagram Type Four

Motivation: Being authentic and expressing individuality, being attuned and true to emotions, making a difference. 

Strengths: Natural ability to create and innovate; valuing the importance of people and emotions; generating ideas and solutions; intensity, passion, and the courage of your convictions.

Enneagram Type Five 

Motivation: Making sense of the world, conserving resources, avoiding dependence, pursuit of knowledge. 

Strengths: Intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for knowledge and ideas; objective, rational thinking; deep content expertise.

Enneagram Type Six 

Motivation: Creating stability and safety, protecting self and others, avoiding threats and risk, being loyal and responsible. 

Strengths: Ability to fully think through problems and find solutions; sensitivity to power dynamics; staying calm and competent in a crisis; loyal, supportive, and dedicated to people and causes.

Enneagram Type Seven

Motivation: Experiencing the possibilities in life, pursuing joyful interests and freedom, avoiding boredom and pain. 

Strengths: Ability to make work fun, positive thinking, infectious enthusiasm, playfulness in relating to people. 

Enneagram Type Eight 

Motivation: Being strong and in control, avoiding weakness and vulnerability, making things happen, making decisions. 

Strengths: Fearlessness in the face of big challenges, ability to support and protect others, big-hearted and generous, ability to see the big picture.

Enneagram Type Nine

Motivation: Promoting harmony and peace, getting input from others, creating comfort and routines, avoiding conflict. 

Strengths: Collaborating, mediating disputes diplomatically, inclusion amidst diversity, putting greater good ahead of self-interest. 

Knowing and naming your strengths is a wonderful exercise for leaders. Once you have this insight, it can be like a kind of North Star, helping you find your way back to behaviors you can be proud of. Naming the strengths of your team members can also buoy them during times of stress. The big takeaway, for yourself and your team: Naming the good matters. Try it.


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