42. The Enneagram: Decoding the Nine Personality Profiles with Special Guest, Chelsie Sargent
Chelsie [00:00:00] What leaders and managers should understand about the Enneagram is its unique ability to reveal unknown individual strengths and blind spots. These realizations ultimately propels a sense of self-awareness and mindfulness that can be wielded in the workplace.
Don [00:00:18] My name is Don Rheem, CEO of E3 Solutions and author of the book, “Thrive By Design: The Neuroscience That Drives High-Performance Cultures.”
Don [00:00:27] I speak across North America on the neuroscience of engagement and I’m passionate about helping leaders at every level create engaging workplace environments where employees feel safe, recognized and valued. Employees who feel safe are happier, healthier and more productive.
Don [00:00:45] Each week, my team and I take on topics impacting managers and we offer solutions to your biggest workplace challenges. And, you’re listening to Thrive By Design, a podcast created by E3 Solutions to give managers CEOs and leaders the tips strategies and tools needed to create an engaged culture at work.
Don [00:01:09] Welcome. I’m your host Don Rheem, CEO of E3 Solutions. As our regular listeners know, over the past few weeks we’ve been talking with subject matter experts one-on-one about critical workplace challenges.
Don [00:01:22] Our guest this week via Skype from Texas is Chelsie Sargent, a licensed professional counselor and a certified specialist in the Enneagram, a-2000-year-old personality examination.
Don [00:01:35] The Enneagram is composed of nine numbers and Chelsie will speak to us in a four-part series about why understanding these numbers can help people become more self-aware and interact more effectively and compassionately with the world around them.
Don [00:01:50] Welcome Chelsie and thanks for being with us.
Chelsie [00:01:53] It’s my pleasure Don. It’s great to be with you today.
Don [00:01:56] Chelsie, almost every worker, leader and manager has had some experience with personality tests in the workplace. In fact, some experts estimate that up to 60 percent of workers are now asked to take workplace personality assessments.
Don [00:02:10] Let’s dive right into this topic. What is the Enneagram and why are companies asking more workers to take personality assessments like these?
Chelsie [00:02:19] Yeah. So like you mentioned before, the Enneagram has been around for about 2000 years and the way that I like to describe it is the Enneagram is the Rosetta Stone of personality assessments. And, you’re right there are a lot of different personality examinations and tests and assessments out there that companies are starting to incorporate.
Chelsie [00:02:41] And, I favor the Enneagram for many reasons. One, there’s many different layers to it. It is very complex and in a good handful of years that I’ve been studying it, it is spot on.
Chelsie [00:02:55] It is composed about of nine, different personality styles and Enneagram broken down is “Ennea” means nine and “gram” means points, so that is where the word comes from.
Don [00:03:10] One of the things that I have not appreciated about personality tests is how they tend to label people, like they can’t move or there’s not context. And one of the things that I have appreciated about the Enneagram and why we have an Enneagram workshop that E3 Solutions, that you lead, is that it doesn’t simply label people.
Don [00:03:30] It really is more about identifying strengths and context about a person.
Don [00:03:36] And, the best part of the Enneagram work that I like is, the extensive discussion, about how if you are a three for example, how do you get along with fours or fives? And, what do they like about you? What do they find challenging about you?
Don [00:03:50] It really just adds a lot of context for leaders, you just have to cope with personalities but to integrate and to work with them.
Chelsie [00:03:59] Absolutely. One of the things I talk to people about in regards to the Enneagram, in relation to other personality assessments, is I feel like a lot of other personality assessments box you into a corner. And, the Enneagram shows you out of that box.
Chelsie [00:04:14] It has so many different layers of who you are and how, like you were explaining, react to different people. And it starts from the basis of personality.
Chelsie [00:04:25] Many experts say that the Enneagram is very evident in someone’s life by age 5. And, the personality adjusts and incorporates experiences as the person experiences life. And, so by the time that someone’s an adult and entering into the workforce it is pretty paramount to understand how you view yourself, how you view others and how you get along well with others specifically in management positions.
Don [00:04:55] I loved it when we used it at E3 Solutions with all of our team members. It just created such clarity about why certain people work in a certain way and what’s important to them and then you don’t have to then struggle with what’s important to them but come alongside it and work with it.
Don [00:05:12] I do have another question for you though, how did the Enneagram originate and why? What do we know about its origins? We know it’s 2000 years old but where did it come from?
Chelsie [00:05:23] Yeah. So it was actually brought over to the U.S. in the mid-19th century and began circulating around the 70s. I’m a therapist and so I have really been interested in the psychological pieces and how that has come through the psychology world.
Chelsie [00:05:42] And in the 70s a psychiatrist named Claudio Naranjo began incorporating it into his work. And, since then over the last 50 years, the Enneagram has circulated widely in many different areas from spiritual direction, to psychology to more recently being incorporated on corporate levels of business.
Chelsie [00:06:03] In fact the man the untrained under, Dr. Jerry Wagner, was one of the first people, here in the U.S. to really start incorporating it on an academic level and wrote his dissertation in the Enneagram in the early 80s. And, so that is where a lot of my training comes from.
Don [00:06:20] It’s been around long enough in the U.S., as you say from the 70s, where now you can go to Amazon for example and find books not only on the Enneagram but the Enneagram in the workplace. It feels like there’s been a lot of adaptation into the workplace. Help me understand that a little bit better.
Chelsie [00:06:38] The more that we go on in society and the more self-aware we get is their own self-awareness. And realizing that the way people interact is really important, specifically in the workplace. And, as different generations come up, that has really defined what different generations define satisfaction around the workplace and relationships with their co-workers.
Chelsie [00:07:06] And so the Enneagram adds a lot of valuable context and content to that because with the nine numbers, not only do you get to see your personality type, you also really begin to understand that not everyone sees through the same lens that you see life through. And, that is an important concept to really understand and incorporate when you are working alongside other people.
Don [00:07:31] As you know, Chelsie, we measure engagement in organizations and we do it by manager. And, it’s not unusual in a company to have some workgroups 100% engaged and other workgroups 100% disengaged.
Don [00:07:46] And, it’s the same company the same pay scale the same culture. The only difference between those two extremes in the workgroups is the manager. And, what we’re finding is the managers that tend to have these highest scores around engagement are the ones that are the most, you could say, emotionally intelligent.
Don [00:08:04] But, I don’t think it’s just that. They’ve figured out a way to identify people’s strengths and work with them and not just have a one size fits all which doesn’t work in these workgroups. And these managers that seem to be locked into a one size fits all they become top-down hierarchical and punitive of employees.
Don [00:08:25] And, if someone doesn’t see the world as they do, as you just referenced, they tend to want to get rid of them like there’s something wrong with them. And the Enneagram tells us something different, doesn’t it?
Chelsie [00:08:36] It does. It lets you not take things personally. And, so when you were having conflict with someone it really opens up doors and windows for you to be able to step back and say they are literally seeing this from different angles than me. And so, how can I come alongside them instead of power over them? And, I think that is a powerful approach in leadership.
Don [00:09:01] So, let’s step back from the use of the Enneagram at work and just more generally how it’s being used today and by whom.
Chelsie [00:09:09] Yeah. So, I tell people that the Enneagram is for everyone. And, so when I’ve gone to a lot of my trainings and specifically when I’ve been trained, there is a little bit of everything in the room where I’m being trained.
Chelsie [00:09:21] Everyone from pretty high up and corporate levels to people who are coaches to therapists to ministers to stay-at-home moms to people who are just trying to figure out how to be a better human. And so the Enneagram is for everyone and as we’ve referenced a lot in today’s discussion it is a pretty hot topic in today’s society.
Chelsie [00:09:47] You can open up Instagram and Twitter and you can find all sorts of feed on the Enneagram and people doing all sorts of amazing things with it and people eating up information. I think we’re hungry for self-awareness and hungry for understanding how other people think. And, so that Enneagram is really being incorporated on all different levels and it really is for everyone.
Don [00:10:08] The self-awareness that you’ve addressed, what I try to emphasize for managers is, there is this self-awareness of just yourself and who you are, and that’s critically important obviously and the Enneagram helps that happen.
Don [00:10:22] I also want them to be more self-aware of their impact on others. It’s not just an inward-looking thing, oh, I’m understanding more about me. But the Enneagram, I find, does a wonderful job of helping to explain an individual’s impact on others. Whether that individual is a manager, which is a pervasive impact in the team or just a team member and helping to understand that because we do need managers to be more self-aware of their impact.
Don [00:10:49] They have not had to care before in an environment of labor abundance. If you as a manager have someone and you didn’t like their personality you could just let them go. You might come up with some sensible reasons for doing that but in today’s market labor scarcity we can’t afford to lose good employees because there are personality differences between people.
Don [00:11:13] The differences don’t have to be a chasm, a gulf, those differences could be sources of insights and wouldn’t the Enneagram help us find those insights?
Chelsie [00:11:23] Absolutely. And, that is where the Enneagram really offers this sense of empowerment. Instead of looking at this person as an obstacle, really starting to address how can I, like I was saying earlier, step alongside this person and really start working with them?
Chelsie [00:11:40] And, not just so much as you were referring to as navel-gazing, as really staying inward and knowing just what makes me tick, but really understands that everyone is seeing things differently and to make an empowering work environment.
Chelsie [00:11:56] I can help people be them their best versions of themselves by me being my best version of myself. Which is I think what you were referring to, is knowing what my impact is when I am around other people.
Don [00:12:10] Chelsie, I’m going to tell a little bit of a personal story here about the Enneagram.
Don [00:12:14] One of my two daughters was struggling in college in her freshman year and struggling about feeling being alone and different and not fitting in. It was also tied in with her first semester at college, which we know can be really rugged.
Don [00:12:29] So my wife and I flew her home. And, my wife, who knows more about the Enneagram than I do and introduced me to it, she asked our daughter to read this chapter in the book on the Enneagram.
Don [00:12:42] I’m not going to say what number it was because I don’t want to reveal that about my kids. But, as my daughter read that chapter about that Enneagram number, tears came to her eyes and she literally started to weep. And, she looked up and she said, “I’m not alone. There are other people like me.”
Don [00:13:00] And it was just it was so reassuring and normalizing for her to see that these ways that she saw the world and interacted with people, and frankly, where she struggled in those interactions was not something unique and not just unique but aberrant. But it was normal. It was just an amazing experience for my wife and I to watch.
Chelsie [00:13:25] Yeah. The Enneagram, like I was saying, it shows you the way out of the box and it’s not isolating like some of the other personality examinations out there are.
Don [00:13:34] How is the Enneagram specifically relevant for managers and leaders in today’s complex work environment?
Chelsie [00:13:42] Yeah. Leaders who want to understand their own leadership styles, this is an important thing to understand. They want to know their personality strengths and their blind spots so they can be more mindful conscientious and effective.
Chelsie [00:13:56] They need to understand the individual needs and disposition of team members. And this is ways that they can walk alongside them and help motivate their team members instead of discouraging them. And, they want to know how to influence and encourage and develop maintain and relate to a variety of personality types.
Chelsie [00:14:16] They want to seek deeper satisfaction in their jobs, and overall, what this is going to foster is healthier, everyday life which is going to include the work-life and create more enjoyable relationships with their colleagues.
Don [00:14:31] What are the best and most appropriate ways to determine your Enneagram? How can someone go about finding out which of the nine numbers they are?
Chelsie [00:14:40] One of the things that I usually refer people to is twofold. One is to find a good book, good material that you can start reading and understanding all the numbers.
Chelsie [00:14:51] I tell people who do not have very many touches with the Enneagram, just to start with some body of material and I can give different references for that, but really just start learning about all the numbers. Not just reading the titles of the numbers and picking out the ones that sound most appealing to you but really reading about all of them and getting a very well rounded understanding of the Enneagram.
Chelsie [00:15:16] The other part is to talk to someone who knows about the Enneagram. Because then they can echo things to you about your personality. They can echo things back to you about the Enneagram and then this is going to lead down into deeper understanding and deeper discussion.
Chelsie [00:15:31] I use the Enneagram all the time in my counseling practice and it is a beautiful tool to use in the sense that when clients come in and we’re really trying to get down to the deeper meaning of why they do what they do.
Chelsie [00:15:44] Since I have a lot of information and knowledge about the Enneagram, I can reflect back things to them and pull out deeper understandings of a number.
Chelsie [00:15:53] And a lot of times people come in thinking they’re one number and leave having a greater understanding and sense of what number they really are. And, so the story that you told about your daughter is awesome in the sense of y’all gave her this material to read and she was able to have this emotional connection to the words.
Chelsie [00:16:12] And so being able to read and understand about the numbers and get an overall sense of what the Enneagram is and then to talk to someone who is familiar with the tool those are really good places to start.
Don [00:16:25] And, we added this workshop on Enneagram that you lead Chelsie, for us, at E3 Solutions because we have found that often senior leadership teams are really struggling on how to interact with each other.
Don [00:16:37] And, simply having this deeper knowledge about each individual, having read some about the numbers. And what I like is when the team realizes it isn’t so much about you’re a three, nine or a six. It’s hey, I’m a three, how can I work better with you?
Don [00:16:51] It’s this deeper contextual understanding. We know at E3 Solutions we are very focused on adult attachment. That underlying personality type is one common thing that unites all of homosapiens and that is a hardwired need for safe and secure attachments.
Don [00:17:08] The Enneagram, we have found, helps people make those attachment needs more successful as they’re able to better navigate what are sometimes really choppy waters of working with people with different personality types.
Don [00:17:22] Underneath all of the personality types is a deep need for connection. We believe that the Enneagram can help people find safer connections by understanding themselves better, their impact on others better.
Don [00:17:34] We’ve asked you for your suggestions on some good books where people can start. So please dive into the materials, listeners, about this podcast and we’ll make some of those recommendations.
Don [00:17:43] Just closing up, Chelsie, I’m really getting excited for the other three parts of the series when we’re going to talk specifically about each Enneagram number.
Don [00:17:51] But is there any caution that people should have or know as they start to explore the Enneagram?
Chelsie [00:17:59] Very good question and the big thing that I tell people right off the bat is this is not a tool to type other people. The Enneagram is a personal tool specifically when you’re beginning with it. It is a tool to take in and to really dive into self-awareness, self-actualization and self-understanding. And it is a tool for you to learn about yourself.
Chelsie [00:18:24] One of the more complex parts of the Enneagram, when you get down into deeper levels of it, is the Enneagram comes from motivation. We are all motivated by something.
Chelsie [00:18:37] I’m gonna get to this in later episodes when we start talking about each of the numbers individually, but for example, the 9 which is called the, “Peacemaker,” their motivation is internal peace. They want to hold on to their internal peace.
Chelsie [00:18:53] So they are going to structure their life and world around maintaining peace. That’s a really important thing to understand if you are a nine or if you are working with nine.
Chelsie [00:19:06] And, so going back what not to do. This tool is not for you to start looking at other people and saying they have these certain behavioral characteristics on my team so they must be a one or a four or a six.
Chelsie [00:19:20] Really, what it is to take in is, I’m a six and because I’m a six, how does that start impacting those around me? How can I be aware of how my words and my actions are going to come across to other people? And, how can I utilize my strengths and really be aware of my shadow sides?
Chelsie [00:19:42] And, so again the self-awareness piece is key and the Enneagram is for you to understand your motivations and what you are doing and how you are impacting the world.
Don [00:19:50] This is very exciting, Chelsie. Thank you.
Chelsie [00:19:53] Absolutely. I’m so excited to dive deeper into the numbers as well.
Don [00:19:56] That’s it for today I’m your host Don Rheem. And thank you for listening.
Don [00:20:00] Please join us next week as we continue this discussion around the Enneagram and begin to take a closer look at each of the personality types or profiles with Chelsie in part two of this four-part series.
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