The Enneagram & Leadership
My best friend since childhood has always been a natural leader. She’s charming, out-going, and a little bossy. She thinks in black and white, knows what she wants and goes after it, every time. Her insecurity meter is broken and when someone pays her a complement, her first instinct is to say, “I know.” I love her dearly, but I often want to punch her in the throat for being so damn confident.
In comparison, I am awkward, self-deprecating, and way more comfortable with the gray areas of life. I don’t exactly scream “natural born leader.” Yet here I am, leading my family as a mother, leading my company, and leading my clients as a marketing consultant. So when I think about growth as a leader, I automatically think I’m supposed to be more like Stacey. Or like Hillary. Or like Cheryl Sandberg. Or like MLK, Jr. But definitely not like me.
If you are reading this, you are likely wanting to know if you have what it takes to be a good or even great leader. But what makes a good leader and does it come down to personality?
Ask yourself if it is possible for an introvert to be a great leader? What about a leader that isn’t a good public speaker? Who do people want to follow? The awkward girl at the party who is eating all the buffalo chicken dip?
When you have a personality type that doesn’t necessarily fit the stereotype of a leader in America, it can be unnerving when you are called upon to lead. If you don’t fit the mold, and you still desire to lead? That can be a real cluster.
In our capitalist society, we are fed an archetype of a great leader that can hinder our vision for what makes a great leader:The most confident guy at the conference table, the cut-throat negotiators from Shark Tank, the charming personality that talks circles around the rest. If no leadership around you reflects your personality, you can easily feel like an imposter. How does one grow in leadership skills without losing themselves?
You shouldn’t have to change who you are to be a great leader. But you do have to change.
In their book The Leadership Challenge James Kouzes and Barry Posner define leadership as “the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations.”
People, according to Kouzes and Posner, are not born leaders, they become great leaders by practice.
Michael Hyatt, bestselling author, and successful entrepreneur. Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies after experiencing 330 percent growth in just three years. identifies 5 characteristics of great leaders: Insight, initiative, influence, impact, and integrity.
In his first book Leadership Mosaic, Leadership Reality’s CEO Daniel Montgomery unpacks different five characteristics of leaders for those in Christian leadership: conviction, creativity, courage, collaboration, and contemplation.
Whatever it is that makes a great leader, no one person is born with these qualities fully developed. And you can study these qualities all day long, but that doesn’t make you automatically have them. There may be many perspectives on what qualities to make a great leader, but those qualities cannot be developed in a vacuum. They only are developed in relationship with others.
The Power of Understanding Your Leadership Archetype
For starters, the Enneagram is an ancient tool developed by desert monks of the early church. It is now used internationally as a tool for self-awareness, personal and professional growth. The tool is a 9 point star signifying 9 personality types:
aka: The Reformer, The Perfectionist
aka: The Helper, The Giver, The Servant-Leader
aka: The Acheiver, The Performer
aka: The Artist, The Individualist
aka: The Investigator, The Observer
aka: The Loyalist, The Skeptic
aka: The Enthusiast, The Innovator
aka: The Challenger, The Boss
aka: The Peacemaker, The Mediator
Only after you know where you’ve been and where you are now can you determine how you can get to where you need to go.
Once you have determined your leadership archetype, you will then begin to see the areas which make you a good leader and as well as what ways you need to grow. The beauty of the enneagram is that is it not a static personality test like the Myers-Briggs, the DISC profile or the like. Built within the Enneagram typology is the transformative story of your personality. The direction of growth is laid out for you. Within the 9 types, you will find 9 Invitations to begin your journey to becoming a great leader that is able to confront reality, embrace life as a gift, and offer hope to their followers.
Further Developing Your Awareness
If the enneagram interests you, several sources are available for developing a deeper understanding of your type. Here are just a few we here at Leadership Reality love:
9 Types of Leadership by Beatrice Chestnut.
The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Riso & Hudson.
The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr.
The Road Back to You by Ian Cron & Suzanne Stabile.
Free tests online are available to quickly narrow down your number, though we recommend spending time reading more about each number and getting others from your community to weigh in. You can also get the full Riso Hudson test through Leadership Reality. We love to administer the test. But what we love even more? Helping you see the path for transformation.
Stacey, my bossy childhood friend is an 8. She loves challenges and doesn’t shirk from being in charge, but she has also grown into being a great leader. She has learned (from the enneagram) that sometimes her power needs to be softened, that control is at times a smokescreen for fear, and that to lead others, she has to spend as much time casting a vision for her people as she spends delegating the work.
And in all my navel-gazing four-ness, I am on a path to becoming a great leader, too. I am learning to ruminate less and work more. I am learning that my vision falls flat without the credibility that comes with doing what I say I’m going to do. I am especially learning that if I am going to call others to struggle for a common goal, I need to practice embracing the mundane tasks of reality.
It’s hard work, this leader becoming, but its a glorious, transformative journey you are all invited to take.
Within the 9 types, you will find 9 Invitations to begin your journey to becoming a great leader that is able to confront reality, embrace life as a gift, and offer hope to their followers. #enneagram #leadership Click To Tweet
Want to talk more about the enneagram and how it can help your team grow? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up to take the Enneagram Test with Leadership Reality.