Honored to be featured in the amazing Charlotte Smith’s Life Design for Lawyers podcast. Charlotte is an attorney turned executive coach who has a profound connection to the human spirit which she uses to guide her attorney clients to create the best possible versions of themselves, both personally and professionally. Charlotte lead a conversation about how to apply the concepts in my book Teamwork 9.0 to help attorneys and their law firms.
Find out more about Charlotte and her Executive Coach practice here:
Transcript of Podcast
Charlotte: Hello and welcome to the Life Design for Lawyers podcast. I’m your host, Charlotte Smith. I’m a lawyer turned executive coach who helps lawyers, attorneys, those in the legal profession step away from stress and overload and to really move into lives and careers within the law that work for them.
Hello and welcome to the Life Design for Lawyers podcast. I am your host Charlotte Smith and today on the show we have Matt Schlegel. He is a consultant, and expert in team effectiveness that is an author and he has recently launched a book: Teamwork 9.0 and it talks about the new novel ways that we can use and apply the Enneagram to make teams more effective. So without further ado, I am so excited to have Matt on the show. Matt why don’t you just start by introducing yourself and telling us a little bit more about you and what you do.
Matt: Well thanks so much Charlotte, it’s such a delight to be here. So I guess I’ll start with the fact that I grew up in a household full of attorneys. My grandfather was an attorney, my father was an attorney, my sister is now an attorney, my cousin is now an attorney and somehow or another, I managed to escape the orbit of the law and I think I attribute it to my grandpa because his hobby was radios. So we would spend hours together in his shed after work, looking at radios, and I think I got that bug to become an electrical engineer from him. As I was going through my engineering career, about 10 years in, my boss comes to me and says “Matt, I want you to be a manager.” And I looked at him and said “why do you want me to be a manager I know nothing about managing people” and he said “don’t worry you’ll be fine.” I thought “I’m not fine, I’m very worried” and so it was that point that I started to explore the different ways to understand how teams work and leadership works and that’s how I discovered the Enneagram and got me on my journey with the Enneagram.
Charlotte: Wow, so that’s really interesting and I love the fact that you were surrounded by lawyers but took that different path. Good for you! So tell us a little bit about the Enneagram because I think that some of the audience will have heard of it but we hear about lots of different personality assessments as well so tell us a little bit about what’s unique about the Enneagram.
Matt: The Enneagram is, like you say, commonly thought of as a personality system. It became popularized as a personality system first by a fellow named Óscar Ichazo in the 50’s, and it became increasingly popular in the 50’s and 60’s. It’s now surprisingly popular with millennials, so if you ever search around for Enneagram on YouTube or Instagram, you’ll see big Enneagram communities sharing their experiences. It’s really fascinating. That said, it all started, it has roots in ancient Greece and even Egypt, so it’s been around for a long time. It talks about nine distinct personality dynamics, and while all of us have access to any of these dynamics with more or less degree of ease, each one of us has a core dynamic and I kind of think of it as being right handed or left handed. Are you right-handed or left-handed?
Charlotte: I’m right.
Matt: As am I. Now, it doesn’t mean we don’t have a left hand. I have a left hand, I use my left hand, but definitely my left hand is not my strong hand, and when I go to do an activity I’m likely to just use my right hand. It’s the same way with the Enneagram. You have these nine distinct strategies, but there is a strategy that’s kind of your go to strategy, that you’ll use. It doesn’t mean you don’t have access to the others, but you can definitely, you’ll fall back on your core strategy.
Charlotte: That’s fascinating, and I recently started to explore the Enneagram and started to really dive into this and it was really insightful firstly that you shared that it has been popularized by a lot of millennials, and I did one of those catchy personality tests and I actually found it really interesting. As I started to dive deeper I was fascinated by the history behind this model and how it works and I think that the example that you gave of using your right hand and your left hand, that really resonates and it makes sense that we all have certain attributes and skills that we can access but we do have more dominant skills and elements that we are able to access and I got from a personality standpoint a 4 winged with 3. When I bought a book on the Enneagram and started reading through this, it was like the bible on human behavior. It was so mind-blowing to me how deep this really goes.
Matt: I couldn’t agree with you more. When I first started exploring it, usually most people will take a test, and you take your test and you score high on a few different numbers, and for instance when I scored I scored high on both 8 and 6. At the time, I was in an environment where I had to behave like an 8 so I was answering affirmative on a lot of these questions for 8 but it turns out I was actually a 6. So I always advise people when they take the test is it’s more for figuring out what you’re not than what you are. Take the top two or three, and do a deeper exploration. Once I figured out I was a 6, and after some work, we figured out my wife was a 5, and I went onto a website, I think it was https://www.Enneagraminstitute.com/ and they had this section where they talk about relationships. So, what does the 5-6 relationship look like? I read that and I was like, “how do they know?” It’s like they live with us, and they’re describing us. It’s just your point, it’s just so remarkable how well it describes our behaviors. And for me, that was the aha moment. There’s really something to this
Charlotte: Yeah, I’ll have to agree with you because when I got that book, I proceeded to get my husband to do the test. He humored me, even though he’s definitely not into this kind of stuff and I found out that he was also a 6, which was kind of interesting. But reading the section, I was like “Wow, this is exactly the traits” and it makes total sense, and it helps you. When you can understand what someone’s personality type is, and how they show up in the Enneagram, then you can empathize with them much more clearly and you can understand what motivates someone. What causes them fear, where they go to in stressed situations. I think it’s very fascinating to be able to communicate effectively with different types to yourself.
Matt: Right, right, and even communicating with yourself. Just the knowledge that it gives you lets you understand yourself, and what makes you tick, and I got a couple really big epiphanies out of this. As a type 6, I’m beset with anxiety frequently. Especially in our culture, with “Hey, that’s not acceptable, don’t be afraid” so I was always challenged with okay, I’m not supposed to feel anxiety in this society, but I do. I was always having to deal with that, and it kind of felt like there’s something wrong with me? That I’m feeling this? Nobody else seems to be feeling this and everybody’s telling me I shouldn’t feel this way. But once I understood that I was a 6, I was like “oh no! This is exactly how I’m supposed to be feeling. It’s totally fine that I feel this way, and now that I know that, I can accept that in myself and start to actually name this feeling, it’s anxiety, I get that now, and start to use it to understand ok, what’s my anxiety level, what’s causing it, and how do I address it in a way that’s constructive and not destructive or bad in my day to day life. Just so valuable. Just that little bit for me alone and once you have that understanding about yourself then yes, you can layer on all the other relationships you have in your life, understand other people, and understand “oh they’re behaving that way, well that’s not the way I would behave but now that I know they’re a 4, or a 3, the way they’re behaving is perfectly correct for this situation” and it just allows you to accept everybody else. These are some of the big transformative things that you can do with your life using that knowledge.
Charlotte: Gosh it’s just so powerful it really is. I’m really hearing that the Enneagram helps us with self-mastery and that’s incredibly important. It helps us to accept ourselves for who we are which is just so powerful on so many different levels personally and professionally and it helps us to accept others as they are as well. I’m curious to know how we take this framework, and we apply it to the corporate environment, to teams.
Matt: This was the fascinating thing for me as well. Because as I was starting to understand all this, I was in a corporate environment and I was using it with my team and getting really great results on a personality level. As an engineer, I really liked to deconstruct things and put them back together and I did that with the Enneagram too. I think this is one of the reasons why I grew to have so much confidence with the Enneagram over some of the other systems I’ve encountered such as Myers-Briggs or Disc which are commonly used in the corporate environment. This one just seemed to be more robust and I ended up having this question. The Enneagram, they call the types by numbers, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9, so why numbers? Why not animals or colors? Also, why is the 1 the 1, the 2 the 2? Why couldn’t the 8 be the 3, or the 4 be the 7? And as I studied it, I found that there is a reason for that specific order. It’s the order in which humans solve problems. Not only is the Enneagram a personality dynamic system, it’s also a problem-solving framework. Once I understood that, I started using it in the context of my team to get them to focus on solving problems together, and it worked so remarkably well, that I was compelled to write my book and share that framework with the world. Because it has implications back to people, because you think about all studied problem-solving steps before, there’s dozens of books on problem solving, the scientific method has all these steps. But the unique thing about the Enneagram is that it has a direct link between a step-in problem solving and a personality dynamic. So now you can say, we’re at this step-in problem solving, what’s the dynamic that we really need to embrace in this step, and who in our world can really help us understand that. If we’re in step 4, let’s bring in somebody who’s actually a type 4 and get their perspective on this. It allows you to really appreciate having a diverse team in problem solving and welcome those diverse aspects and opinions during problem solving.
Charlotte: Yeah, ok. You hear a lot about how teams are being built are often compelled to hire someone exactly the same as them, from the same background inherently creates too many of one personality type and it doesn’t create that range of perspectives for more effective problem solving so very cool. I think it would be helpful now for our audience who aren’t familiar with the Enneagram to just go through 1-9 and maybe talk about some of the attributes and how they approach problem solving.
Matt: Yeah, oh that’s great. So very briefly, this is all detailed in the book, but just to give you a flavor of the steps in problem solving and then those dynamics. For instance, Type 1 is often called the perfectionist. They’re the ones who immediately see what’s wrong, how things shouldn’t be, they also tend to be a very innate clear vision of how things should be and how things shouldn’t be and how things should be is a problem definition and goal. Two sides of the same coin, and the first step in problem solving.
Type 2 is called the helper, they’re the people who want to have an emotional connection with you, well the role that the two plays is, okay, we have this problem now, who cares? Who actually has an emotional stake in that problem? This is the step where you get all of your stakeholders together, all the people who have a connection with the problem and build your problem-solving team.
Type 3, they’re the achiever. They’re the ones who are looking forward to seeing, what can I do to get to success? They are really great at just throwing out ideas, they’ll throw out all these ideas just to explore how we are going to achieve success.
I’m going to skip ahead to Type 4 now too, because there’s a dynamic between three and four that happens almost instantaneously, it really needs to be appreciated, that is the four is the type they’re often called the artist or the romantic, they’re the ones that see the emotional content in everything. So when you throw out an idea in step 3, you’re going to have an instantaneous emotional response. That idea is great, or that idea sucks. You don’t even think about it, it just happens. That state is literally the state of four. They’re always reacting to the emotional content of everything and so that combination of three’s idea and four’s reaction, it’s like there’s a saying: throw spaghetti against a wall and see what sticks, that’s the dynamic: When the three throws spaghetti against the wall and the four is seeing what sticks. And you choose those ideas that stick with the team, because those are the ideas that are going to have the most emotional energy, to get the team through the rest of the steps, to the goal.
Now we switch over to Type 5, there’s an interesting thing that happens. 1-4 are on the right side of the Enneagram, and 5 6 7 8 are on the left side of the Enneagram, so you’re switching now to the other side and it kind of matches this idea of left brain, so you’ve gone from right brain to the left brain side of problem solving. So the 5 is where you analyze the idea, where you do the pro con analysis, where you do the cost benefit analysis. You vet that idea to the nth degree to make sure its valid and holds up from a logical point of view.
Once you’ve done that then you need to build a plan around that. That’s step 6. They’re the ones who want to know what’s going to happen so they’re the ones that are going to say okay, well what resources do we need? What people do we need? What’s it going to cost, how long is it going to take? And they’re the planners, they like to plan everything out and get you all the way to the goal.
7 is the enthusiast. They’re the ones that like to take an idea and get everybody excited about that idea so everybody is on board to go forward. So in problem solving, they’re the ones to take that plan and go back to the broader set of stakeholders and say hey, come on! Let’s go! And get everybody excited to get forward.
Step 8, in steps 1-7, all you’ve done is talk and talk and talk. So step 8 is the step where you actually take action. Type 8 is the most action-oriented type of all the types. This is where you actually do the work, implement the solution, solve the problem.
And then, you get to step 9. You’re done, you solved the problem. Well, whenever you do some kind of transformative change, some people will have their feathers ruffled and their feet will be stepped on, and you’ll need to go back and harmonize and integrate what you’ve done with everybody. Nine is the peacemaker, and they’re the ones that go in and listen to everybody, get everybody to calm and settle down, and make sure the solution is working for everybody. And then, in those conversations, inevitably, you’ll find perhaps something that wasn’t addressed completely or maybe a new problem arose that you didn’t think about, and then you’re back to 1. That’s why the Enneagram is a circle and not a line, because it’s a continuous circle of improvement and problem solving. So that’s kind of the overlap between the personality dynamics and the different steps in problem solving.
Charlotte: I love that that is so fascinating, and it makes complete logical sense when you take you take us through that in such a concise, simple way. It’s interesting for myself when exploring who I was in the Enneagram and I was kind of struggling between a 9 really resonating with me as well. But once I kind of dived in it was kind of a whole leading with the 4 but the addition of the 3 in there.
Matt: I would say the 4s and the 9s they do have a lot in common. Whereas the 9 is great at listening and understanding everyone’s perspective, the 4 is great at putting themselves in everybody’s emotional shoes. The 4 often knows how you’re feeling better than you yourself know how you’re feeling. That’s their gift. So I can see how as a 4, looking at the list of the 9 behaviors, you would be able to identify with a lot of those.
Charlotte: Yeah, so what advice would you have for someone who’s in senior management at a law firm and they have a team of people. How do they best utilize the methodology that you’re describing to build a really strong team?
Matt: That’s a great question, always I say the starting point is to really know yourself. This is one of the advantages of the Enneagram, is that it’s a great tool for managers. Because it helps you understand not only what motivates yourself, but also the underlying motivation of your entire team. What they’re going to get passionate about, what they’re going to want to get up in the morning, get out of bed, go and do. Once you understand that, you can start to make sure that you have the right people in the right roles at your firm. The great thing about law firms, is that there’s so many roles, there’s so many different roles, because the law is human problem solving. It literally scopes the whole thing. There are so many ways each type can play in the firm. I’ll just give you a brief rundown. Type 1, the perfectionist. They get passionate about social justice law. So you see attorneys that are really passionate about that are often type 1s. Also, if you want to have flawless documentation submitted to the court, you want your 1 to be on that. Because that documentation is going to be perfect, and it’s going to look good to the judge. Type 2 is the helper, what better world than an office manager to make sure everybody has what they need and everybody is working the best that they can, and just attentive to everybody in the firm to make sure. Type 3, this is the type that really wants to look good. When you’re in front of a jury, you want the 3, great litigators, because they want to win and they want to look good. They make great litigators, and they also make really great expert witnesses. When they’re on the stand, they’re going to tell the story in a way that’s going to make you look good, and the jury is going to totally get it. Then you go to the type 4, they’re the emotional impact. They’re also great when you’re planning how the jury’s going to react to the different messaging. You want a 4 on your team, because they’ll be able to tell you how the jury is going to react, at developing your brand strategy for your law firm, they’re great at marketing. They’re also great as coaches for attorneys, like you! That’s a perfect role for you. Then for 5s, these are your legal experts, they’re the people who are doing research on your case, they’re perhaps the law professor that you go back to and ask for advice. That’s the expert on your team. Then the 6s, I see a lot of 6s in corporate transactional law, these are the folks that are work horses: just get stuff done all the time, they’re okay setting up this entity, then they’re going to set up this entity. They’re going to do that all day long, that makes them happy. The 7s, they want to be around people. They need to be in a role where they’re surrounded by people. They’re going to be in the types of law where they’re meeting lots of people. Maybe immigration law, or maybe a class action suit, or maybe your trust attorney, because they really love meeting with people all the time, that’s what they love. Another fantastic role, both you and I are in a networking group called Provisors. Provisors are predominantly attorneys. It’s a networking group of attorneys and if you look at the composition of the people in Provisors, it’s predominantly 7s. 7s love networking. So if you’ve got a 7 in your firm, get them into Provisors because they’ll be able to network and bring in more business for the firm. Then you get to type 8. Type 8s are master strategists. You want them on your litigation team, you want them coming up with strategy, cause they’re great at finding weaknesses with the opposition’s case and exploiting that. So that’s where the 8s are often found, in litigation roles. 9s are the peacemakers. If you need to go into the mediation, you want to go to the type 9. I also see mediation in employment law issues, and I also see them in patent law as well. Every Enneagram type has a role to play in a firm, and once you appreciate what each type loves to do, and get them in that role, it’s like magic. Everything starts to click.
Charlotte: Yeah, it sounds so incredible, and the visual image I’m getting right now is of a chessboard, understanding your pieces and the resources you have and you can kind of deploy them effectively, it makes everything feel so harmonious and easy. Its kind of interesting, the kind of strategy and figuring out how to deploy all the pieces is not easy but once you can execute that effectively, then how powerful.
Matt: Exactly, exactly.
Charlotte. So, just such incredible work. And you know, I don’t want to go on and on, but I just have so many questions. We could really apply this to how to give feedback to people.
Matt: Knowing the Enneagram type of your colleague helps you tune the way you deliver messages to them. Because you’ll know what they need and you’ll know how to give it to them in a way that they’ll be most receptive to. Feedback is interesting because there’s positive feedback, and there’s negative feedback. These are two different things. This reminds me of when I was managing teams and I was doing all that studying and research and how to be an effective manager and an effective leader, and I came across this one little bit of advice that we are much more sensitive to negative feedback than positive feedback. Just to be neutral, to give neutral feedback, you need to have 7 times more positive feedback than negative feedback. So for every one bit of negative feedback, you better give 7. So I was very conscious and deliberate about doing that. Now, since then, since that was years ago, it’s not 7 to 1. It’s actually 11 to 1. The most recent research says it’s actually 11 to 1. Also, Gallup poll does these surveys that say, “what’s the thing that causes the most job satisfaction,” and its office, my boss. 70% of the feedback is “my boss is awful”. Well, it makes total sense if we don’t know that 11 to 1 just to be neutral in our feedback and your job is to give people feedback, if you’re not giving 11 to 1, then it just seems like you’re giving negative feedback all the time, and you’re not going to like it. You’re not going to like your boss, you’re not going to like your job, you’re not going to like anything. So I kind of looked at it like a bank. Think about depositing positive feedback into the bank. Every day, you got to be deliberate in giving positive feedback to your team. If you know the Enneagram, you can be more specific in how you do it, but just in general: 11 to 1. So that when you have to give some negative feedback, you’re withdrawing from the bank, and knowing 1 is 11, you don’t want to overdraw your account. So that’s one framework that is really important. For anybody in a role where they need to give feedback to people. Going into the specifics of the Enneagram types and knowing those specifically is so powerful, because you’ll know, for instance type 1: They have this little critical voice in their head. Whatever negative feedback you give to a 1, they’ve already criticized themselves 10 times more. It’s really counter-productive to even criticize a 1, it just shuts them down and makes them procrastinate, so the better conversation is “how can I help you? What do you need to be successful?” Focus on that instead of criticizing, and you’ll have much better results with the 1. For a 2 for instance, you cannot give too much positive feedback to a 2. For a 6, if someone starts to say, “you’re doing such a great job, I just love…” after a while I would start to feel uncomfortable, like I get it, I get it. But you can’t do that for a 2, that’s what they need. They need that constantly. Knowing that, you see your 2 in the office, “you’re doing such a great job, I really appreciate what you did for John or Jane the other day,” so knowing that underlying thing can be super helpful in essentially building up your bank account so that you always got something in the account with your team.
Charlotte: Yeah and I think its interesting because some people may think: “Well, why do I need to be concerned with giving feedback, I’m just trying to get the job done in the quickest way possible, blah blah blah blah blah.” But really, being able to effectively give feedback is going to make people perform better. They’re not going to become demotivated. It creates a positive work environment and culture; people are loyal to you. They’re engaged. So it’s incredibly important to think about these things.
Matt: absolutely, absolutely. When you made that comment it reminded me of a type 3. Because type 3s, they are so focused on getting the job done. They minimize how people are feeling about the situation. “We got this deadline, we’ve got to get these papers over to the court.” Someone might come to them and say, “My kids sick, and I need to take them to the hospital” and the 3 will say “really, now??” They’re just so focused on getting the jobs done they maybe don’t realize what is going on in the person’s life, that maybe having a sick kid is a really dramatic emotional thing. So just being aware, that’s the value for the 3. To know that tendency in yourself, and then to just listen to people when they say I have a sick kid. Even though you yourself as a 3 may not have that emotional reaction to that, just know that your colleague is and you need to figure out another way to get this done so they can go and take care of their important family business.
Charlotte: Yeah, it’s so powerful to be able to hold the mirror up to yourself and see that if that’s a tendency for you as a 3, then you can approach it more empathetically. It’s good business, we hear all the time and see that working in an environment that has this toxic culture, there is a human element of getting the job done and building hours, but there isn’t that buy in or engagement anymore. Being able to hold the mirror up and see is going to create that culture shift that is important.
Matt: Exactly, very well said.
Charlotte: Ok, I know we have talked really about teams but what would you say to maybe just a solo practitioner or an employee that doesn’t have that managerial from an Enneagram standpoint.
Matt: I have a very small team in my practice and once I’ve discovered the Enneagram and once I’ve understood that I’m a type 6 and I understood what roles I really loved and excelled at, I built my practice around my strengths. That’s how I would advise any sole practitioner, is that once they understand their own Enneagram style and their own strengths, build your practice around those strengths and then for the things you don’t like to do, find partners that allow you to offload that work to somebody who loves to do that. You now will have that much more time doing the things that you love to do. Don’t be afraid to delegate, don’t be afraid to build a network of different Enneagram styles, so that you have people to draw on when you need that. That’s how I use the Enneagram all the time in my own practice to just create an effective team, because everybody, even a sole practitioner still has a team of people around them.
Charlotte: Yeah, amazing. So Matt, how do people find a copy of your book.
Matt: You can find that on Amazon or most book platforms. If you want the paperback its on Amazon, if you want an eBook it’s on Amazon and other platforms as well. It’s Teamwork 9.0, and you can just search on whatever platform you use and it should pop right up. You can also find out more about the book on my website, at www.EvolutionaryTeams.com. Evolutionary teams, all one word, dot com. I’m on LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook and YouTube, all those social media platforms as well, where I talk about the Enneagram and some of the experiences I’ve had using this problem solving process and then just how to use this in your day to day life and in business.
Charlotte: Yeah, I strongly recommend everyone check out the book if you have not. Just from our conversation, there’s so much useful information there that’s powerful, and its an investment as well in people’s careers, in people’s businesses that’s going to last the search a long time and allow people to apply some of this strategy. So thank you so much for being here today and giving us your time.
Matt: Thank you so much, I really enjoyed the conversation, thank you.
~End of interview~
Charlotte: Are you a lawyer who is feeling pretty stuck in life? You don’t quite know what to do about it, but it feels like from a career standpoint, from a life standpoint, from a home standpoint thing aren’t going so well. Head to my website and download my life prototyping worksheet. Here I’ll share with you some tools and techniques to help you start thinking about what really is important to you. What your core values are, and it will help you to start envisioning how life can truly be for you. Simply go to www.charlotte-smith.com to download your life worksheet today.
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