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The Nine Enneagram Types in the Workplace

A lot of our work at Enneagram Solutions centers on helping Human Resources and Organizational Development leaders to use the Enneagram as a practical tool in the workplace to drive effectiveness and therefore business success.  We sometimes are asked to provide a summary of how the nine Enneagram types show up in the workplace.  The following is a very brief, high level overview of the nine Enneagram styles in an organizational context:

Ones (Reformers):  Core gift is creative problem-solving.  They value responsibility, reliability, and people “owning their stuff.”  On teams they can often see solutions to problems no one else can see and are frequently a stand for quality control and integrity in the group’s work.  Their blind spot is that focusing so much on doing things perfectly can cause them to lose sight of the forest for the trees, rendering them indecisive and unable to move into action.

Twos (Helpers): Core gift is kind generosity.  They value personal connection and opportunities to serve.  On teams they are empathetic, good listeners, and can help the group take relational impact into account as they make decisions.  Their blind spot is that their drive to help can lead to unhealthy boundaries, including giving advice or help when not invited to do so, when they do not have the necessary expertise, and/or when they do not have the time/ energy to help.

Threes (Achievers): Core gift is socially intelligent productivity.  They value efficiency, regular feedback, and advancement opportunities.  On teams they are ambitious and socially intelligent, oftentimes holding a clear vision for the group.  Their blind spot is that they frequently set aside their emotions to try and appear more “professional,” which can make them look fake and detached, and therefore less effective.

Fours (Individualists): Core gift is emotional fluency.  They value authenticity, depth, and time to process new information and changes.  On teams they are creative, emotionally engaged “out of the box” thinkers paying attention to the aesthetic impact of the group’s work.  Their blind spot is that they tend to focus on what they think they lack and a sense of being overwhelmed, and in turn the frequent focus on those two issues makes both seem stronger.

Fives (Observers): Core gift is level-headed discernment.  They value predictability, respect for boundaries, and intellectually complicated work.  On teams they help set a deliberate pace and draw on both their breadth of knowledge and strong analytical skills.   Their blind spot is that they fail to see that working so hard to conserve their resources is itself a drain on resources, whereas engaging with the world can actually generate more energy/ options rather than diminish them.

Sixes (Loyalists): Core gift is community-minded reliability.  They value consistency, clarity, and opportunities to collaborate.  On teams they naturally focus on the collective and are oftentimes advocates for tradition and stability.  Their blind spot is that they tend to turn to other people to make them feel safe and grounded rather than the much more effective and reliable strategy of building their own sense of capacity and resourcefulness.

Sevens (Enthusiasts): Core gift is fun lightheartedness.  They value options and variety at work.  On teams they bring a sense of fun to the group, helping reframe setbacks and generating options for initiatives and next steps.  Their blind spot is that they fail to see that living life fully requires staying wholly emotionally and mentally present in their lived experience, finding joy and contentment where they are instead of so frequently looking elsewhere.

Eights (Challengers): Core gift is no-nonsense productivity.  They value healthy confrontation, fairness, and transparency.  On teams they bring high energy and productivity and are frequently a voice for justice in the group’s work and decision-making.   Their blind spot is that their heavy focus on productivity can blind them to how they can be caustic, harming themselves and their relationships in the process.

Nines (Harmonizers): Core gift is easygoing perspective-taking.  They value ease of interactions, clear communication, and structure.  On teams they are approachable and can be excellent conflict managers because of their ability to see all sides of situations.  Their blind spot is that trying to avoid being affected by life reinforces the idea to others that the Nine does not have a voice and does not need to be taken seriously.