As managers and leaders, we often look for that one thing that will be a magic bullet to propel our team to great performance. My experience has shown me that there is no one best program or training regime, but there are great tools to put in the toolbox.
A few years ago, I was working with a consulting group called Transform out of Maryland to help me with sales training, and during our work together they introduced me to the Enneagram. The Enneagram is a nine-pointed model (ennea means nine, gram means model) that helps people understand how they and their personality operate. The Enneagram has been taught at the Stanford Business School and has become more visible in business training. Much of its previous use has been in spiritual teaching and therapy work, but my use of the Enneagram has focused on the business aspects.
What gets in the way of what you want, whether it is in business, family, friendships or your spiritual connections is the same: It’s you. What prevents you from being who you want to be or where you want to go is always the same: It’s you.
The Enneagram describes nine personality types, or “lenses,” through which people see the world. These lenses are all different, and when we start working with the Enneagram we realize that everyone sees the world differently. We all have different strategies for a successful life. We all define a successful life differently and, beyond that, we all have different pathways to achieve that success.
The Enneagram’s personality styles are those places each of us tend to center on, or spend most of our time. They are our home base. No one type is better or worse than another, but the true learning is that they are different and people view their lives and the world through their own personality lens. For example, when you walk into a room does your attention go to who has the power? Does your attention go to what is wrong and needs to be fixed? Does your attention go to who needs help? Or does your attention find worry and worst-case scenarios?
The best leaders I have ever worked with tended to be those who understood themselves first and had the capacity to at least acknowledge the perspective of others. The Enneagram teaches us to enter into the journey of self-discovery and appreciation first before trying to figure others out. When leaders begin to consciously impact others, they go off “automatic” and make their actions and behaviors much more intentional.
For key meetings I ask myself, “What impact do I want to have in this situation?” It forces me to think of the outcomes and the results, not just the intention I might have going into the situation. Certainly this is much easier when you have time to plan and be conscious about a situation. Where we can get into trouble is “in the moment” where we actually spend most of our time. It is in the moment when we tend to be on automatic and not conscious of our impacts until it is too late.
The best leaders are those who are present in the moment and very conscious of the impacts they are creating. The Enneagram is one tool that can help you better understand yourself – and your team – and be more present in the moment. I have found the Enneagram one of those studies that forces you to go deeper if you are interested in learning more. The Enneagram is a lifelong study and practice for those who see its value.
Scott Jamieson is vice president at Bartlett Tree Experts in Stamford, Conn and president of the National Association of Landscape Professionals..Hire Power is a monthly column designed to help you recruit, hire and retain the best talent for your company. We’ve got a rotating panel of columnists ready to give you practical, tactical advice on solving your labor problems. Email Chuck Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org with topic ideas.
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