The Enneagram reveals important dimensions of leadership styles and assists leaders in better understanding what drives and motivates them as well as the impact that they have on others.

Global Leadership Foundation works with leaders to:

  • build their knowledge and practice in understanding their Enneagram types
  • understand the gift and limitations of each type on leadership behaviour and the impact on others
  • recognise how they and others react in stressful situations and create development paths for change
  • support and strengthen self-realisation (increasing Emotional Health levels) through the Enneagram
  • apply their knowledge and practice as leaders within their organisation settings

At first glance, the Enneagram could be considered as a personality profiling tool, akin to the Myers-Briggs profile, DISC or any of numerous other such tools. It is true that, as with those tools, undertaking an Enneagram Type Test will provide you with an indication of your ‘type’ – in this case one of nine types, or styles. However an indication of your Enneagram type is just the starting point on a journey of self-discovery. It should not be seen as an ‘absolute’ in any way. For a good discussion of the difference between the Enneagram and other profiling tools, see this page on Ginger Lapid-Bogda’s Enneagram in Business website, where you will also find detailed descriptions of the Enneagram types.

Today’s Enneagram is derived from philosophies dating back at least far as Pythagoras in ancient Greece. It also incorporates components from early Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Sufism, Taoism and Buddhism. The first modern use of the Enneagram is attributed to Oscar Ichazo in the 1960s.

Ichazo distinguishes between the unblemished ‘essence’ of a person and that person’s personality or ego. The latter is a distortion of the former: as our personality develops, so we move away from our pure ‘essence’. Adapted to the language that we use, this essence represents a perfect balance of the head, heart and gut centres – the ability to draw on each of these at any time. It is the peak of emotional health. Our personality, by contrast, is our tendency to behave according to our Enneagram type, which includes a tendency towards one of the three centres. The lower our emotional health, the more rigidly we adhere to type.

In exploring the Enneagram and learning about our preferred type, we learn more about ourselves, about the gifts and limitations of our type, and about the likely nature of our relationships with others. As we have explained earlier, none of these are absolutes – they are indicators. But they provide us with information and insights which we can then use to develop ourselves and increase our emotional health.

Enneagram Types

Enneagram diagram

Enneagram diagram

The nine personality types describe what our core motivations and beliefs are and taken together they provide us with a map of how to see ourselves and one another more clearly.

This map of the Nine Types help us to understand our own typical way of seeing, relating and responding to the world around us, as well as the typical way that others see, relate and respond to the world as well.

What’s most powerful about this map that describes the different lens by which we see the world is that it enables us to see into our unconscious minds. We don’t typically see what we are NOT conscious of!

But by having this map in front of us, we can start to see into the unconscious operations of our minds, and how unconscious forces work to serve us but also work to keep us stuck in vicious cycles.

We could almost say that this map is a new, breakthrough technology that we didn’t have before – that enables us to be more effective in our lives. Just like the revolutionary iPhone that has changed our life in so many ways, not only adding convenience, but also enabling us to be more productive and connected, this new technology also helps us to be more productive, effective, and connected!

By being able to see and understand how our unconscious beliefs and motivations are driving us, we begin to have the chance to be more effective human beings who now have a choice about whether to remain attached to our unconscious drives and motivations, or choicefully move beyond these unconscious forces to be more effective in our relationships, in our way of working, and in our way of being in the world.

This map of the Nine Types enables us to appreciate one another’s strengths and gifts, while at the same time having compassion for our own and others’ weaknesses and difficulties. It also shows us a way to move past our fixations to greater capacities and freedom of choice.

At its deepest core, this map shows us the territory that we might traverse on our journeys of self-discovery.

So, it becomes a very interesting question to know where we are starting our journeys. At the beginning of our journeys of self-discovery, we tend to find ourselves at emotional health level, 5, with one personality type that we most strongly identify with; that is our primary type, and two or three other personality styles that we also reference a great deal.

Together with our Primary type, the two to three main styles we reference shape the way in which we behave, feel and think as well as create the coping strategies we use to get our needs met.

When we are referencing only our Primary type and two to three other styles to get our needs met, we are not in balance. We are not able to be present in all three centers of our body. We are not able to fully integrate our head, heart, and instinct centers in a balanced way. In fact, you could say that having a personality style implies that we are not using all the capacities that we could open up to.

And so, to our dismay, over time, the strategies we have created to get our needs met, don’t generate the results and experience of satisfaction, fulfillment, and connection that we ultimately crave, and we realize we must go on a journey to discover what more is possible for ourselves.

Take the free Enneagram Type Test