Enneagram Type 8 leader Kim Kaselionis highlights the importance of becoming self-aware and how she used that knowledge to become a more effective communicator with her team. The best leaders are highly self-aware, and Enneagram Type 8 leaders can elicit more creativity out of their teams by allowing more voices into the conversation.
Matt Schlegel: Thanks for joining me in conversations with leaders who are using the Enneagram as a leadership tool, and a tool for personal growth and development. Today, I’m speaking with Kim Kaselionis. Kim is passionate about helping entrepreneurs achieve the most successful outcomes. She’s managing director of Destined, a merger and acquisition advisory firm. And before that, she was CEO at a bank where she used the Enneagram extensively with her leadership team, and her talent acquisition team. She shares some great stories from the perspective of an Enneagram type 8 leader. And now for the conversation.
I’m excited to be speaking today with Kim Kaselionis. Kim is managing director of Destined, a merger and acquisition advisory firm where she guides entrepreneurs on their path to successful outcomes. She leads from experience. Before Destined, Kim was CEO at Circle Bank, where she turned around the bank, and made it into a category leader. She then sold the bank at a premium. She’s an advocate for entrepreneurs, and I’m eager to learn how she’s used the Enneagram as a leadership tool. Welcome, Kim.
Kim Kaselionis: Hey Matt, how are you?
Matt Schlegel: Great, great. Thank you so much for coming today.
Kim Kaselionis: Such a treat. Thank you.
Matt Schlegel: So I want to just start by asking how and when did you first discover the Enneagram?
Kim Kaselionis: So during my tenure at the bank, I was a member of Vistage, and it was through the Vistage group that I was introduced to this amazing management tool they call the Enneagram.
Matt Schlegel: Oh, very cool. And about when was that?
Kim Kaselionis: I want to say it was about 15 years ago.
Matt Schlegel: Okay.
Kim Kaselionis: I used it considerably in the last let’s call it five to seven years during my tenure at the bank.
Matt Schlegel: And so is that a normal part of Vistage to introduce the Enneagram, or was that just something that happened on an ad hoc basis?
Kim Kaselionis: It was just fortuitous. I think it just happened to be. Our chair was a big fan of the Enneagram, and it was something that she felt strongly about bringing to the group.
Matt Schlegel: Okay, great, great. Oh, that’s excellent. And so when you discovered the Enneagram, and you first started using it, what did you discover about yourself that you didn’t know before?
Kim Kaselionis: Well, I think the Enneagram is an amazing self-awareness tool that can help to put some context and framework behind why you are the way you are, how you interact with people of various personality types, right? So I think it’s a great kind of key, kind of an unlocking your best interpersonal skills because you just have some more awareness about who you are.
Matt Schlegel: Yeah. I mean, that is one of the most important things about the Enneagram, right? It kind of lets you know how you are, and what you are doing in a way that I’d never seen any of the other tools that I’d used. They weren’t quite as effective as the Enneagram at doing that, kind of getting at what’s under the hood, and what’s going on.
Kim Kaselionis: Well, it explains a lot about why you may have some challenges, why you work better with some personality types versus others, right? And gives you, I want to say a roadmap in terms of how you can change your own interaction and behavior with others to get better outcomes.
Matt Schlegel: Right, right. Okay, well, so then how did you use that then with your team at work?
Kim Kaselionis: I used it in two ways. One was with existing leadership team for which I had about nine people. I had them all take the Enneagram, and then I mapped out all of the scores onto a single sheet, and shared it with the group to have open the conversation about better communication amongst the senior leadership team. So it was a great kind of team building exercise that, again, not only for myself, but for the group to really have a better understanding of where they had some explanations of why they had friction with some of their other teammates, right? And some natural relationships with others. So it was really a great conversation starter to better understand how we can engage as a more effective team, so that was part one.
The other part was that as we continued to hire when we were looking for certain personality styles, and skill sets, then we would ask each of our candidates that we got serious about to actually take it to see because everybody knows you show up on an interview with game day, right? You come in with your game face, and a lot of the times you are not actually the person who I thought I hired. So it was a way for us to really drill down on, are we getting the right best fit for the position, and for the team itself, so we used it in two ways.
Matt Schlegel: So both as a communication tool and then as a hiring tool to align a style with a certain role because you had a sense of what style would be best in that role, and so you wanted to match that up.
Kim Kaselionis: Exactly, and, again, as a kind of an awareness, an overall awareness for the team to understand who we were bringing on board.
Matt Schlegel: Right, right. Well, I mean, those are two excellent ways to use the tool, and they’re both very effective. One, just learning how to meet people where they’re at when you’re communicating with them because each one of the nine styles is going to come from a different perspective, and a different point of view. And if you don’t meet them, or meet somewhere in the middle, then you end up talking past each other, right?
Kim Kaselionis: Exactly, exactly. And I think the other part of that for the senior leadership perspective is it was a great way for me to determine where there might be some other management coaching, or skill building gaps that could be felt, right? For a particular Enneagram style, or another should they so desire just to, again, make that available to the senior leaders if they wanted to continue to enhance their own leadership skills.
Matt Schlegel: Right, right. And then getting back to the other point about the hiring, it’s interesting how you called it you bring your game face. When we’re all in our most comfortable situation, our most confident situation then, actually, it’s a little harder to tell what your Enneagram style is. It’s when you’re under stress that you start to really reveal. Any Enneagram type when they’re comfortable can be any other type, but when you get stressed, you end up going back to your type, right? So it’s really interesting to see how people will behave in stress because that’s so revealing.
Kim Kaselionis: Exactly. And I do think that when you provide a candidate, or a team member to take the Enneagram as the manager, or the leader of the organization, I think you could get more insight into how that person is going to show up day in and day out. Yes, it’s true that as you’ve put in your book, each style, each Enneagram type has kind of a left and a right wing. So they can go either way, but I think it is really incumbent upon leaders to really understand the core personality of the people who you’re hiring, and to be able to make more informed decisions about kind of the culture that you’re building within the organization.
Matt Schlegel: Right.
Kim Kaselionis: And you could use this tool to help you do that.
Matt Schlegel: Exactly. Yeah. So one of my favorite interview questions when I was a hiring manager was what is your problem-solving process? And I would just stop right there and then I would just let them explain it to me, and talk about revealing. It is one of the most revealing questions and it tells you because everybody wants to downplay their weaknesses. They want to build up their strengths. And so they end up just focusing on the things they’re strongest at. And so you get exactly what you’re going to get in the workplace when you hire them.
Kim Kaselionis: Very cool.
Matt Schlegel: So, well, great, thank you so much. Those are great ways to use the tool. So now that you have used it, and remind me, you’re coming from an Enneagram type 8 leadership position?
Kim Kaselionis: Correct.
Matt Schlegel: So what advice would you give to other leaders of your Enneagram type, Enneagram type 8?
Kim Kaselionis: Well, to my type 8 colleagues out there, as you probably are well aware, we are very dominant, and we can be construed, or people think of us as maybe being a little overbearing. So really to understand what you’re projecting out there to the world, to your team, to your employees, to your customers, to really understand your type so that when you’re interacting with other types that are not 8s, that you can massage, or finesse your interaction to get, again, better outcome, a better relationship, stronger, better understanding, and communication with people who are not of your type, because we have a tendency to just kind of roll over everybody else whose not strong like us. So, again, I think it’s a great way to just bring self-awareness so that you can have better relationships, right? And better communication styles with others who are not 8s.
Matt Schlegel: Right. That is such a great point because as leaders grow in their leadership roles, right? You’re trying to encourage everybody to contribute. And you’re trying to encourage all the different diverse styles to be able to safely speak up, and contribute. And 8s do have to learn that they are so dominant that it can shut other voices down. And so by learning to tone that down, you bring out those other voices that help make everybody successful.
Kim Kaselionis: Right. We have a tendency sometimes to squash creativity, so, it’s a way to really, to your point, open up the conversation about ideas that are not ours, and a lot of amazing things after we can get over that little initial ego hit that somebody actually might have a better idea than us. It really helps to invite more creativity, and different ways of looking at the world, right? Not just your business environment, but really problem-solving where we might go with an idea that’s not ours. So, yes, I would just take a breath, I guess that’s what I would say to my other 8s is before you talk, just wait two seconds, let others speak.
Matt Schlegel: Yeah. Well, there’s the book Fast Thinking and Slow Thinking, and some people are fast thinkers, and some are slow thinkers. Both can have great ideas, but 8s are very fast thinkers because they’re using their intuition, and those ideas just come out so fast, and you need to kind of allow for the slow thinkers like me as a type six, allow for me to get my ideas out, too, if you want to have the whole set of possible ideas.
Kim Kaselionis: Yeah. I always say that the 8s, we kind of have no filter. And so sometimes when those words come out so quickly, we can’t always take them back, so, 8s sometimes we need a little bit of a filter.
Matt Schlegel: Right, right. Well, thank you, Kim, so much for sharing all of your experiences with us today. And I feel like we just scratched the surface. I’d like to invite you to come back in the future, and continue the conversation if that’s okay with you?
Kim Kaselionis: I appreciate it. And then for anybody out there who hasn’t yet experienced the Enneagram, and would like to learn more, please connect with Matt because the Enneagram as we’ve talked about before is just an amazing human capital tool, right? And not only for yourself, but also for building teams and building better relationships. So, I applaud you, Matt, for the book. Love it. And I encourage you to continue to work and to share this knowledge with whoever you can reach.
Matt Schlegel: I’m trying. I’m going to do my best. So thank you, again, Kim. I really appreciate it.
Kim Kaselionis: My pleasure.
Matt Schlegel: Thanks for watching. I really liked how Kim highlighted the power of the Enneagram as a tool for self-awareness, raising your self-awareness, and how as she raised her own self-awareness she became aware that she needed to adjust her communication style to more effectively communicate with her teammates. And as she went through that process, and made sure that all voices were heard that that actually resulted in more ideas being floated, and more creativity in the team. And so I just thought that was such a powerful story that she told.
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