We had a great session at CSL at which we explored leadership and personal growth by tapping into the path of integration for our Enneagram type. As a leader you need to be able to access the dynamics of any Enneagram type depending on the situation. Generally the hardest dynamic to tap into is that represented by clockwise movement around the Enneagram, in other words the next higher number. The premise of this discussion is that if your path of integration provides a solution to help you access dynamics of the type represented by the next higher type. Once you have mastered that, you can use that pathway to access the dynamics of any Enneagram type.
Fascinatingly, the Enneagram’s path of integration provides a solution that effectively allows each type to achieve the behaviors and outcomes of the next higher type. For instance, we heard from a 7 that had to fire someone at work. Dealing with confrontational situations comes easily to Type 8, the next higher type, but Type 7s want to steer clear of confrontation, especially innegative situations like having to fire someone. The approch the 7 took, she explained, was to think through exactly what she needed to say and how to say it. Then, she rehearsed until she felt prepared. Does that sound typical 7 behavior? Not really. But it does seem similar to the behavior of the studious Type 5, which lies on Type 7’s path of integration. The 7 reported that she was able to effectively get through the contentious situation in spite of her apprehension. This story provided the group of a great example of how Type 7 can tap into Type 5 behaviors to achieve Type 8 outcomes.
While 6s may love hanging out with their peeps, they encounter more apprehension when entering social situations where they do not know the participating people. On the other hand, 7s are naturals at networking and “working the room,” even when they do not know the people. For the 6s to get over this hurdle, we reviewed how a 9 would approach this situation. Type 9 lies on the path of integration for the Type 6, so this behavior is accessible to the calm 6. In the calm state, the 6 can engage with people, and use theirr natural inquisitiveness to start and stoke conversations. The 9 wants to understand people’s opinions in order to create harmonious environments and reduce conflict. In as much as the 6 can check their own opinions and focus on those of others, they can effectively mimic the behavior of the 9, accomplish the behavior of the master-networker Type 7, and engage comfortably with people who were otherwise strangers.
The 5s are great at collecting lots of information but are challenged when it comes to making a decision based on the information and acting on it. At the root of their apprehension is fear. On the other hand, Type 6 suppresses their fear, allowing them to make the decision and act. How does the 5 get to action? The path of integration for Type 5 is Type 8, the type that embodies action. In the words of the 5 in our group, after reviewing the information and the decision over and over in his mind, he finally grows fatigued and succumbs to making the decision and acting. What was it that lowered the 5s fear to the point that he could move forward? Perhaps it was a strong desire to actually do the action? Perhaps it was the increased confidence that comes from reviewing and mastering the information? Perhaps it was the realization that the potential for harm was low? Perhaps a combination of the of these two factors? Most poignant to me was that the 5 had to actually become tired of thinking, and out of that depleted state emerged the desire to act.
We had a handful of 8s participating in the conversation and all were eager to contribute. When faced with a contentious situation, they described, their instincts are to engage fully or retreat completely. There is no in-between. It was difficult for the 8s to image approaching a contentious situation like a Type 9, calmly understanding everyone’s perspectives and finding a middle ground that minimized conflict, especially if that middle ground wholly excluded the point of view of the 8 herself/himself. On the other hand, when the 8s were able to frame that same situation from the point of view of “helping” everyone, like the perspective of Type 2, then the 8s could see a path to finding that compromise solution that would benefit all parties. Much like a consultant, the 8 could see themselves acting on behalf of others without necessarily having a personal stake. In this way, the 8s can access Type 9 outcomes along their path of integration towardsType 2.
Unfortunately we ran out of time after we explored these 4 types. Hopefully next time we will have more representation from the right side of the Enneagram, Types 1, 2, 3 and 4 and also Type 9 so that we can gain further insights into the leadership path of growth for these types, as well.