The Enneagram and the Team

I have been working with the Enneagram for 10 years in and around business and I am fully convinced of its value in business and personal life. Often I talk about the fact that there is a huge overlap between personal and business life and the people factors that bring a better standard of life to employees and managers while at the same time enhancing business performance. In this instance I want to touch on the potential impact on the Team.

The Enneagram and the TeamThe Enneagram is shown to enhance, among many things, team performance and in my view should be used in the norming process in building projects teams.

I have seen groups of people sent on a training course, which included the Enneagram, show positive effects immediately with these positive effects continuing to grow over the period of learning undertaken. I have seen types who grate on one another suddenly having and showing understanding for one another and little issues which caused friction becoming just that, little issues. An understanding where you and just as importantly, the other person is coming from, is critical to this.

An example I can offer is where one particular manager in a company I worked for was absolutely and resolutely determined and hard working and often was the key person in either winning or completing a project. What was very interesting was that as the good news came in that a large contract which a team of four would have been working day and night on had been awarded to us, everyone would be delighted. Except our friend – who would be convinced that it was too good to be true and something was going to go wrong. Comments like “what a pain ” were thrown around and some, particularly the account managers would get annoyed and friction would develop.

What the Enneagram taught us all, the person in question and the team was that this was a natural route for a Type Six. Loyal, tough, detail oriented and great in a crisis the same person almost changes character when there is no challenge. Much more happy when they know where the danger is, they will prevaricate until they find the next challenge and when others worry they are taking it head on.

Learning this caused the team to lighten up, to recognise and laugh at the behaviour which improved communication, the slickness of how they operated, the overall motivation of the group and the camaradarie within the team.

One can imagine that in an organisation which has embraced the Enneagram it will be easier to form successful teams for two reasons.

The first is that knowing the type of the individuals in the group will allow easier understanding and resolution of difficulties as we have just seen.

The second, although it needs to be handled carefully perhaps, is the opportunity to form a team with certain types (healthy in their type of course) in certain roles, such as for example 9’s in the Chair, 8’s or 3’s using their energy to drive the project, 6’s or 1’s to check and deliver on the detail, 4’s or 7’s as the creatives etc. Enneagram expertise will not guarantee the success of the project but it certainly will improve its chances of success.

And given the myriad of uses of teams in Medium and Large organisations what value can you put on that………?

Aidan Higgins

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