The team effectiveness concepts that I share in Teamwork 9.0 are based on a system called the Enneagram. In this video, I share an overview of the nine Enneagram dynamics and give you a peak under the hood of the underlying mechanisms that drive motivations and behaviors of the nine Enneagram types. Understanding your own Enneagram type is the first step for leaders to better access all Enneagram types depending on circumstances. Which Enneagram types resonate with you?
Hi, and thanks for joining me today. Today, I’m going to give you a brief overview of the Enneagram. My book, Teamwork 9.0 is based on a system called the Enneagram, and today, I want to give you a brief overview of that system. How did I get into this? I was trained as an engineer, and about 10 years into my engineering career, my boss came to me and said, “Matt, I would like you to lead a team.”
I’m like, “Well, why do you want me to lead a team? I know nothing about leading teams.” He said, “Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.” Well, I wasn’t fine, I was worried, and so what I did was I just went to school, went back to school and got my hands on every book on leadership, and teams, and management that I can get my hands on and started reading.
It was along that way that I discovered this thing called the Enneagram. Now, by the time I came across the Enneagram, I’d already been exposed to some other systems like Myers-Briggs and DISC among others, and so my first impression is, “Oh, here’s another personality system. Interesting, has nine instead of 16 or four types, but yeah, okay.” As I got into it, I became more fascinated with it. One thing that the Enneagram had that the other systems didn’t was really spoke to motion, and time, and how things evolve over time, and the Enneagram describes kind of how things can progress over time.
As an engineer, thinking about how things progress over time all the time is, I found that aspect of it really fascinating. It drew me in and it led me to the discoveries that I present in my book, Teamwork 9.0. The book is available on Amazon so please find it there, and I would love it if you would leave a review on Amazon for me. It’s really important. Why do you want to learn the Enneagram? As a personality system, which is how I came to it, here are some of the fantastic things that I got out of it.
One, it gave me an understanding of myself better than anything I had encountered before. Really kind of gave me a look under the hood, really what makes me tick, and both on the good side and the bad side. It allowed me to understand and appreciate some of the behaviors that I might not have been so happy with, but it’s like, “Oh, now I understand why I do that,” and that’s okay. That’s just the way I am, and now, I have something, that I can put a name on it and I can work with it, and I can work to improve myself, and so this was so important, such a great aspect of the Enneagram. Once you’ve done that for yourself, it allows you to open up your perspective on others too, and be able to understand them, what makes them tick, and be able to accept their behaviors. It also allows you to adjust your style to better match theirs and get along with others.
Then, finally, and this is what I speak about in book, Teamwork 9.0, is really appreciates what each type brings to the party, especially when working together as teams, and it gives you the sense of the value of style diversity on teams. This is just a brief example of some of the great things that you can learn with the Enneagram. Before you listen further, you may want to take an Enneagram quiz. I have a quiz that you’re welcome to use. It’s at www.EnneaSurvey.com, and that’s E-N-N-E-ASurvey.com, and you’ll find that when you take these quizzes, that you may score highly on two or three types, and I find that it’s good to use these results in a process of elimination, so you focus on the top highly scoring types, and then as you listen to this talk or you read about the types, then you can start to understand which of those types may be your core underlying type.
First time I took the quiz, I scored highly as a Type 8. I was in an environment where that’s how we had to behave, as Type 8’s, but later, I came to understand that I’m actually a Type 6, so you may not score the highest, even on your core type the first time you take this. It’s a process to really figure out what your type is. All right. Again, the Enneagram is commonly known as a personality system.
It describes these nine personality types. The Enneagram has been around for … of years, and it really is much more than a personality system, but it was kind of brought into the West as a personality system by a fellow named Oscar Ichazo in the ’50s. He developed these personality dynamics, and then that was furthered by others in the ’60s and ’70s, and it became the popular personality system that it is today. Now, I’m finding with YouTube that there’s so much great content on Enneagram and describing the Enneagram behaviors, so definitely search around for Enneagram on YouTube, and you’ll find some great, great videos to look at. Once you start to understand the Enneagram, you’ll see it everywhere.
One of the places that I saw it was in The Wizard of Oz. Wizard of Oz talks about these three types. There’s the Lion who wants guts, and the Tin Man, he wants a heart, and the Scarecrow, he wants a brain, and the three centers of the Enneagram are the gut types, the heart types, and the head types. The Enneagram looks like this with these three centers, so the 8, the 9, and the 1 are the gut center, and they, more than anybody really intuit things. The underlying issue for this group is anger. Then, for the heart folks, they’re feeling things, and the underlying issue is emotions.
For the head types, they’re thinking about things, and the underlying issue for them is anxiety. We’ll go through each of these now, and I’ll point out that when we’re in our calm state, it gets hard to distinguish the dynamics of the different types. We reveal ourselves more in our stressed state, so as I go through these, I will be talking about the stressed state, as well as the calm state because it’s where a lot of the behaviors are exposed that will really reveal the type. Now, for the gut types, again, there’s the three types, and an underlying issue is anger, and for each of these three, there’s an external expression of anger, an internal expression of anger, and then a suppressed expression, okay, and so we’ll go through each one of these. For the 8, again, the issue is anger, and they’re the external anger type.
This is the type that is actually most comfortable, showing and using anger. What’s going on is the 8 wants to secure and keep secure their control of their environment, and anger is their go-to tool for securing control. As they feel like they’re losing control, then the anger starts to come out, so if you’re ever in a meeting and somebody starts to raise their voice and maybe pound on the table, that is an expression of that 8 dynamic coming out, and that person is using anger to keep control of the situation, keep control of the environment. A great way to get along with 8’s is to get to the point quickly. 8’s, more than any other type, they want to get to action.
They don’t want to think about things. They don’t want to feel things. Remember, they’re in that intuitive group. In fact, they’ve probably already intuited what to do, so they just want to go and do it. They don’t want to talk about it, so if you do need to talk, get to the point so that they can get to action.
That gives you a flavor of that external anger Type 8. Now, let’s go on to the internal anger Type 1. Now, all that anger that you saw with the 8, now imagine, all of that focused in at themselves, and that comes out as this angry critical voice in their head saying, “You know that’s not right. You know you could be doing better. You know you could be working harder.”
That voice is the constant companion of the Type 1, and that voice is informed by the 1’s intuition. It’s telling them what’s right and what’s wrong. 1’s often use the word should. “It shouldn’t be this way, it should be this way.” Right?
That’s that voice of that critical, angry voice in their head that’s informed by that intuition. The Type 1 may not identify with anger, but they will identify with frustration, so that’s that frustration of not being able to get it right, and that’s the way they’re feeling that anger, that internal anger coming out as frustration. It’s important to know that the 1’s are highly self-critical. That voice is criticizing them all the time. In fact, any criticism that you may think of laying on the 1, they’ve already criticized themselves 10 times more.
In fact, by criticizing them, it just increases their frustration level, and will often be counterproductive to whatever you’re trying to accomplish, so it’s best to just avoid criticizing the 1. All right, let’s move on now to the suppressed anger type. For the suppressed anger, the 9 wants to eliminate anger from the environment, so they’re constantly thinking about, “How can I make sure there’s no anger?,” and that’s why they’re often called the peacemaker, because that’s their focus. They have this intense focus on understanding other people’s perspectives so that they can arrange things in a way that will minimize conflict in the environment. Now, if you ask a Type 9, “Where do you want to go for lunch?,” the Type 9 will respond, “I don’t know. Where would you like to go for lunch?”
“Oh, no, no. I picked last time. You pick this time.” “Yeah, you know, I can’t really make up my mind. Why don’t you tell me?” The 9’s don’t want to express their own opinion.
Why? Because if they express an opinion, it may cause conflict, so it’s much better for them to let other people make the decision, and in fact, they’ll even work as a mediator to find the best solution for everybody who’s going to lunch so that it minimizes conflicts for everybody. Doing all this work of thinking about people’s perspectives and all of this all the time, it’s exhausting, so the best thing for the 9 to escape all of that is sleep. There’s no conflict in sleep. 9’s love to sleep, and so you’ll find that 9’s, in order to avoid conflict, they may tend towards finding ways to just sleep more.
All right. Those are the three anger types. Now, let’s move over to the heart, feeling and emotion types. Again, external expression, internal expression, suppressed expression, and the issue here is the emotions. The Type 2 wants to have an emotional connection with you, and the way that they do this is they are thinking what you need and that, “I will deliver that, and when I deliver that, I am going to get your appreciation, and that appreciation is proof that I made that emotional connection with you.”
That’s why the 2 is often called the helper, because they’re always finding ways to help people. That appreciation that they get from people, it’s like oxygen. That’s why they’re constantly looking for ways to help people so they can get that constant supply of oxygen back. Because of this desire to have this emotional connection with people, this type more than most any other type wants to be around other people. Now, if you ask the 2, “Do you ever need alone time?”
“Do you ever need downtime?,” 2 will say, “Oh, yeah. Absolutely,” and you ask them, “When was the last time you had some downtime?,” “Oh, well, yeah. You know, the other day, I just went out and I just took 30 minutes for myself,” so for the Type 2, 30 minutes without other people, that feels like a long time, and so for most other types, we can be without people for a long, much longer periods, but since 2’s want to have that connection, even 30 minutes can seem like a long time. With 2’s that live alone, what I’ve found is that they’ll often have a pet or some creature to bond with at home because they want to keep having that emotional connection. All right, so that’s the 2.
Now, we go over to the internal emotion Type 4, okay? Now, all of those feelings and emotions are roiling around inside of them, and if you ask a 4, “How are you feeling?,” the 4 is going to look at you and say, “I’m feeling fine,” but what they’re thinking is, “What a stupid question? How can I tell you how I’m feeling when I’m feeling the light against the wall and feeling the color of the slide, I’m feeling the audio echo in the room, that I’m feeling all this stuff, but if I told you that, you’d probably think I’m crazy, so I’m just going to tell you, I’m fine.” That’s kind of the world of the 4. They have the ability to sense the emotional content of anything.
I was watching a film, is a biographical film of a New Zealand author, Janet Frame, and one of the scenes in that movie is she’s standing at the chalkboard and she’s just looking intensely at this piece of chalk, just so intensely, and she was just feeling everything about that piece of chalk, and that really illustrated the 4. The other thing about the 4’s is that they have the ability to put themselves into other people’s emotional shoes. Now, we talked about the 9. The 9 can put themselves into others’ shoes to get their perspectives for the sake of minimizing conflict, so they know what’s going to … Intuitively, they’re going to know what minimizes conflict. Okay.
Different from that, the 4’s can put themselves … people’s emotional shoes, and they can know what other people are feeling. Often, they know what people are feeling more than … The 4’s know better than the person themselves, and there was this, another scene in this film where the actress playing Janet Frame, she comes back to house after her father had passed away, and there are her father’s shoes on the floor. She walks over to the shoes, she steps in the shoes, and then she just becomes her father, just starts being her father. That so illustrated the 4’s ability to put themselves into other people’s emotional shoes, and they also have the ability to communicate in a highly, emotionally impactful way, and that’s why they often becomes writers, or poets, or musicians, even chefs and cooks.
They’re communicating, painting in an emotionally impactful way. What they want out of that is to get acknowledgement for their unique perspective. That’s one of the things that satisfies the 4’s, when they know that they’ve communicated in a way, especially if they’ve communicated in a way where it leaves you speechless, you’re just feeling, just feeling what they made, and you don’t have any words for it, that’s when the 4 knows they’ve communicated successfully with you and they have essentially put you into the 4’s shoes. All right. That’s the internal emotional 4.
Now, we get to suppressed emotion. Okay, so the 3’s more than anything want success, success above everything, success above feelings. They tend to suppress feelings. They don’t come into play. They don’t come into the equation, so when they’re working, they’re working, they’re not feeling and they’re not thinking about feelings, they’re just focused on that success, and that’s why they’re often called the achiever.
The 3 appearances are really important, and so you’ve heard that phrase, “Dress for success”? That’s the 3. They’re going to dress for success, they’re going to come out, and they’re going to look successful, and the other phrase that comes to mind is, “Fake it till you make it,” because even if they’re not successful yet, they’re going to look successful. Just because they’re faking it until they make it doesn’t mean that they’re not working extremely hard. 3’s are one of the hardest working types, and they’re going to …
They have the ability to make time because if they need to stay up all night to finish something, they will stay up all night to finish something, so this is the mission and the purpose of the 3. Where they get into trouble though, is if they’re working on a team and they have a deadline coming up and everybody’s working hard, and then somebody says, “My kid just got sick. I need to go home. I need to take them to the hospital,” and the 3’s like, “Really? We have the deadline coming up.”
The 3’s don’t think about how that person’s feeling. It just doesn’t even come into the equation, right? They’re just thinking about that success, and so at the end of the project, after it’s all done, the 3 is like, “Yay, we did it,” but everybody else is suffering from hurt feelings of what may have happened along the way, and they’re like, “Oh, we don’t feel like celebrating. Go away.” This is where the 3’s get challenge is because they’re not understanding how other people may be feeling because they’re not, that it’s just not a thing for them, and so it’s just something to watch out for the 3’s.
All right, so that is the heart group, and now we move to the head group, and it’s the thinking and anxiety, and again, we have external, internal, and suppressed, and this time it’s for anxiety. We’ll start with the external anxiety Type 7, right? Their anxiety comes when there is any negativity in the environment. That negativity in the environment causes their anxiety to go up, so they work hard to keep no negativity, but rather, just keep the environment light, fun, and happy, and so as long as everybody’s happy, then their anxiety goes down, especially if they’re happy with the 7, and so if the 7 can make everybody happy, then there’s no anxiety. They tend to be fun, talkative, always thinking about the next fun thing to do, and that’s why they’re often called the adventurer.
If you’re ever in a situation where you need to process some negative feelings, better not to go to a 7 because the most that you’re going to get out of the 7 is, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” That’s about the extent of negativity that the 7 is comfortable with, is just telling you, “Just don’t feel that way,” and so on the other hand, if you want to have fun, then you definitely want to hang out with your 7 buddies because you’ll always be able to have a good, fun time with them. All right, next is the internal anxiety. Now, that anxiety’s inside and the way that Type 5 addresses the anxiety is if they collect resources that make them feel safe, the anxiety goes down, so what resources make them feel safe?
Money, that will make them feel safe, knowledge, information. Type 5’s tend to be on the quiet side. They’re just observing everything. They’re taking everything in, collecting information constantly, constantly. As they do this, their anxiety goes down.
Makes them feel safe, so for them, information is very valuable. It’s like gold. Now, if you need some information from the 5, then going to the 5 and asking for information, the 5 is was like, “Why should I give you my information?” For them, it’s like gold, and if you persist, they’re going to think about, “Okay. Well, what’s the minimum amount of information that I can give you to make you go away?”
They’ll give out that little bit, and then the person will go away, and then the 5 can go back and be by themselves collecting information. On the other hand, they love new information, so if you have some interesting, quirky information, you can share that with the 5, and the 5 is going to be, “Ooh, how interesting,” and they’ll want to hear more, and more, and more. That’s one way to build a relationship with the 5, is by sharing interesting, quirky information. All right. Next, we get to the suppressed anxiety, okay? I know this type very well because I am a 6, and for Type 6’s, we push our anxiety way deep down inside.
Sometimes you can feel it deep down in your gut. It’s like this little furnace down there, and that’s anxiety that Type 6’s commonly feel. The way we keep it pushed down is if we know what’s going to happen, then anxiety is minimized, so we’re always thinking about the future. “What if this happens? What if that happens?,” questioning, questioning.
That’s why Type 6 is often called the questioners because we’re asking, “What could happen? What could happen?,” and we develop these mental models as we run through our simulations of, “What is the most likely outcome?” As long as we go along as we predict, our anxiety goes down. It’s when things become unpredictable and chaotic, then that anxiety starts to rise up, and that can cause us to be a little on the abrupt side. It can cause us to become angry.
It can cause us to become frenetic as we work frantically to try to address whatever happened and whatever it is that’s causing our anxiety to be up. Then, as we work through that issue, our anxiety goes back down and we can make our life a little more predictable, so 6’s like routines. Oftentimes, parents of 6’s, what they will do to help their child minimize anxiety is if they’re going to do something new, take them the day before and walk them through this, “This is what’s going to happen. This is who you’re going to meet. These are the things you’re going to see,” and just let them see it all, ask all …
They have a lot of questions. Then, let them ask all their questions, so that way, the next day, as they’re going through it, there’s many, fewer surprises. 6’s don’t like surprises, and so if you can minimize the surprises and help meet expectations, then the anxiety goes down. Those briefly are the nine Enneagram dynamics, and we’re just scratching the surface here. Again, using the Enneagram as a personality system is just one aspect of many ways that you can use the Enneagram, and so for instance, in my book, Teamwork 9.0, I talk about how to apply the Enneagram to problem solving.
You ask that question, “Why is the Enneagram numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9?” Well, that speaks to the way we solve problems. Fascinating stuff. “How can you use the Enneagram to grow as a leader?” The Enneagram speaks to that.
“How can you use the Enneagram to increase your creativity?” You can speak to that. “How can you use it to analyze team dynamics?” You can use it there. You can use it for rapport building, and you can use it for underlying motivations on your team members so that you can individualize how to motivate your team members to work towards the goal, so these are all really powerful ways that you can use the Enneagram with yourself and with teams.
Please do stay in touch. Lots of ways. You can go to my website, evolutionaryteams.com. You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, this YouTube channel, and also have a blog. I’d love if you could read some of the things I’m writing and leave comments there. Thank you so much for listening to this talk, overview of the Enneagram, and I look forward to our next conversation.