43. Enneagram Part 2: Why First Understanding Personality Types 8, 9 and 1, Matter
Today’s show is about The Ennegram Part 2: Why First Understanding Personality Types 8, 9 and 1 Matter with Special Guest, Chelsie Sargent. Listen to the show on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play.
Chelsie [00:00:01] The Enneagram has nine distinct profiles. Today, we will focus on styles 8, 9 and 1 which all make up the gut or anger triad. These numbers bring goodness, directness and peacemaking to a team. And, it is critical to have these qualities in our places of work.
Don [00:00:22] 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 [00:00:31] 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.
Don [00:00:44] Employees who feel safe are happier, healthier and more productive.
Don [00:00:49] Each week, my team and I take on topics impacting managers and we offer solutions to your biggest workplace challenges.
Don [00:00:58] 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 [00:01:13] 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 [00:01:26] Returning from last week is our guest Chelsie Sargent, a licensed professional counselor and certified specialist in the Enneagram, a 2000-year old personality examination.
Don [00:01:38] Chelsie is here, via phone, to continue our discussion around the Enneagram, as we take a closer look at the specific personality profile types that make up the assessment.
Don [00:01:49] Welcome back Chelsie. It’s great to be with you once again.
Chelsie [00:01:52] It’s my pleasure Don. It’s so good to be here.
Don [00:01:55] Chelsea, last week our podcast listeners were introduced to the Enneagram at a broad based level. And, we heard about its origin and its significance, both individually and in the workplace.
Don [00:02:06] This week we have an opportunity to dive into three specific types and why first understanding these profiles matter. Chelsea, can you help recap briefly for our listeners who are just tuning in, how you determine your Enneagram number or type? And, what are the first three Enneagram types that we should focus on? And, why is this order significant?
Chelsie [00:02:30] Absolutely. The Enneagram, like I described in the last episode, is a 2,000-year old personality examination and it is composed of nine different types or numbers or profiles. You will hear me use all three of those words interchangeably throughout me talking about the Enneagram.
Chelsie [00:02:51] And to discover you’re any Enneagram type, it really just begins with understanding and discovering what the Enneagram is.
Chelsie [00:02:58] And, whenever I do trainings or start exposing people to this personality assessment, I always begin by talking about all the numbers.
Chelsie [00:03:08] And, the number that I begin with is 8. And, I will focus in on what we call “the first triad” which is the gut triad or the anger triad. And, these numbers, which is 8, 9, and 1. Which are the numbers that we’re going to focus in on today.
Chelsie [00:03:26] All of these numbers feel things in their body. And, they do this in different ways. They also have easily accessible anger and they manifest this in different ways. And, this will be explained along the way as we we talk about 8, 1 and 9.
Don [00:03:44] We’re going to get into these three. I just have a general question here just for listeners.
Don [00:03:48] You mentioned a triad. How many triads are there? And, what is their significance?
Chelsie [00:03:54] There are three triads on the Enneagram. The first one, which is composed of 8, 9, 1 is the gut triad or the anger triad.
Chelsie [00:04:04] And, these people feel things in their body when they are making decisions or trying to come to conclusions on things.
Chelsie [00:04:12] The second triad, which is the 2, 3 and 4. This is the “heart triad” or the feelings triad and these numbers feel things deeply. They make decisions or come to conclusions through feelings and they each do this in different ways. And, we’ll talk about that further when we get to those numbers.
Chelsie [00:04:33] And, then the thinking triad which is composed of 5, 6 and 7. They come to conclusions or use thought or their head to make decisions, and view the world through the lens of thinking.
Don [00:04:48] Let’s come back then to this gut or anger triad, as you described it, and let’s break each of these down, each of the three numbers in the triad down.
Don [00:04:56] Can you talk about the 8’s as leaders and how understanding this profile type might be useful or significant in the workplace?
Chelsie [00:05:04] Absolutely. The 8s are known as the challenger. They are the big thinkers in the room. They can make things happen. They have tons and tons of energy and they’re very decisive.
Chelsie [00:05:18] They are motivated by being strong and they do not want to be controlled. Many eights will tell you that’s probably one of the worst things that can happen to them, specifically in the workplace, is feeling like they are being controlled. They move things forward with gusto. They overcome issues quickly and they do not mind challenging authority.
Don [00:05:42] You call them the challengers and I think that’s a wonderful frame.
Don [00:05:47] Sometimes they feel, to me, like contrarians.
Chelsie [00:05:50] Yes, they can again because they are so direct. Because they have so much energy and because they do not mind coming up against authority, they can definitely come across that way.
Don [00:06:01] Is this also the type, when there’re people in the room, that feel that they are smarter or they know more or they just always have to add their own little bit of commentary on something? They just can’t seem to let something go.
Chelsie [00:06:15] Yeah. They can also come across as aggressive because they have a hard time letting things go, or they have a powerful voice and take up a lot of energy in the room. They could definitely come across in those ways. They’re also what people would call, specifically in the workplace, pretty powerful leaders in our Western business culture. A lot of CEOs at the highest levels are 8s.
Chelsie [00:06:40] They’re bold. They’re blunt. You know people really appreciate their directness.
Don [00:06:44] There’s thousands of books in print on leadership, very few books on followership. Does this kind of a powerful leader, is this someone that employees would want to follow? Do they if they find that compelling?
Chelsie [00:06:55] That’s a really good question.
Chelsie [00:06:57] I think an 8 in a healthy sense, absolutely. Because they are quick thinkers, because they move things forward in timely fashion, people want to get behind them because the train’s moving fast and it’s moving forward in a direction that is usually appealing to people.
Chelsie [00:07:16] When 8’s are not healthy, they can come across as aggressive. They can come across as overpowering. They can come across as intimidating, which may make people feel scared working underneath them or not seen, working underneath them because 8s moves so quickly.
Don [00:07:34] That’s so interesting and I’m assuming then that there are healthy and unhealthy expressions of each type.
Chelsie [00:07:42] Absolutely. You will hear me say a lot, people living into the healthier parts of their personality or the unhealthy parts of their personality.
Chelsie [00:07:51] And another word that I always use is having self-awareness and so 8s being self-aware of how much energy they take up in a room, how much energy they have and being self aware that that this is not how everyone functions. ?
Don [00:08:08] Is there a disadvantage here? A gender based disadvantage for women if they are an 8?
Chelsie [00:08:14] Such a good question.
Chelsie [00:08:16] Male eights are often praised and encouraged in the workplace. And, I have found when females come in and see me, specifically when they are in the CEO positions or in higher up levels of management, they have a lot of woundedness about their more aggressive personality stance within the workplace.
Chelsie [00:08:36] And, they have been told over years they need to calm down or back off. Or that they’re too much, whereas their male counterparts, those personality traits of themselves are really praised. And so, they feel like they’re having to walk a fine line of being who they really are and using that powerful energy and then not coming across as too aggressive.
Don [00:08:58] Is it that there are unhealthy characteristics of each trait or is it an individual who might be an 8 or any other number who lacks the self-awareness of their impact on others, so that their personality type feels unhealthy in its expression?
Chelsie [00:09:13] Yeah, I think it’s the latter of what you just mentioned.
Chelsie [00:09:16] Again self-awareness is key in this. And so, you knowing about yourself and how you’re coming across and what you bring to the room into the table. And so, not all personality types are going to respond well to bluntness or to you powerfully expressing your feelings.
Chelsie [00:09:35] And, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to morph into a different person when you walk into a room. But it does mean that you having a good understanding that not all people are going to respond well to that and that you can bring up different parts of yourself to harness in some of the energy or put that energy into healthy ways when leading your team.
Don [00:09:58] Okay, let’s talk about 9s as leaders and how understanding this profile type might be critical for people in the workplace to understand.
Chelsie [00:10:07] Yeah. So 9s, it’s a fascinating transition between 8s and 9s.
Chelsie [00:10:12] Whereas 8s when they come into the room they bring all the energy and have the most energy on the Enneagram, 9s have the least energy on the Enneagram.
Chelsie [00:10:22] They are known as the peacemakers. They value harmony and want to avoid conflict at all costs. They often talk about feeling overlooked or feeling like they don’t matter.
Chelsie [00:10:34] They value things working well and going smoothly and do not like drawing attention to themselves. Nines are very much, go with the flow, and they are very easy to get along with.
Chelsie [00:10:47] So 9s that are leaders, one of the things that I often hear from people who are being led by 9s, is that it’s easy to relate to and talk to a 9. They are inviting. They at times are or appear to be good listeners and they’re just really easy to get along with. They’re enjoyable to have conversations with and have relationships with.
Don [00:11:09] But there is a downside here isn’t there? In my world, I might refer to it as they’re conflict avoiders. I mean the other side of being a peacemaker is being a conflict avoider. And, they may not be as willing to have the tough conversations with a team member to get them back on track if they’re underperforming. Is there some potentially some conflict avoidance on their part?
Chelsie [00:11:30] No, that is spot on. They do not like to rock the boat. And so, nines, the way that they are wired is they are going to avoid conflict at all costs.
Chelsie [00:11:39] So, when I work with leaders who are 9s, one of the big things that we’re addressing and putting out on the table is their conflict avoidance. And so, nines when they’re in their healthier spaces are going to recognize that and work on the skills of how to have healthy conflict and how to be able to address hard issues with their employees.
Don [00:12:01] There’s another angle on this. A company where there were a lot of conflict avoiders as managers, and when leadership said, hey, there’s a 3% pool for pay raises this year and let the managers determine who got what. Many of the managers gave everyone on their team the 3% because that was the least conflictual for them.
Don [00:12:24] But, if you were a top line player, if you were actively engaged in that category, for us in our survey, it didn’t feel fair as an employee who’s actively engaged to get the same pay raise as the actively disengaged employee got at the other end of the spectrum.
Don [00:12:41] So, we saw it in this way as well because when you do give differentiated raises, a manager has to be willing to have the tough conversations to explain to the person who got a 1% raise. Got that while someone else on the team got a 5%. So, I can see here where 9s could could have a problem with that. They would struggle with it.
Chelsie [00:13:02] Absolutely. And because they’re not going to voice those things they’re just going to stuff it down. And, as we all know you can only stuff anger or feelings or resentment down so far before there is going to be some sort of explosion at some time.
Chelsie [00:13:19] And, that is how the 9s really being in this gut or this anger triad is they very rarely, rarely come across as angry or having issue with something but because they are stuffers and they have a hard time talking about their feelings or if they feel like an injustice is happening towards them, it can come out sideways at times. So, it’s definitely something that 9s, need to be aware of.
Don [00:13:46] So let’s talk about the 1s as leaders. Tell me about the 1s.
Chelsie [00:13:52] Well, the 1s are known as the perfectionist and a lot of people really shy away from that word.
Chelsie [00:14:00] And, I want to help as we are discussing about this specifically as how perfectionism comes out for the 1, really describe what that means for a 1 but 1’s value structure.
Chelsie [00:14:13] They have really high standards and also they are the people on your team that are going to bring the high ethical standards. They want high-quality results. They’re going to be your detail oriented people.
Chelsie [00:14:27] They are results-driven on your team and they’re very logical. They’re going to be the people who you walk into your manager’s office and if they’re a 1, their desk is going to be full of lists. They don’t mind being in the weeds and they like things to work in a very mechanical order.
Don [00:14:50] Yes, I was struggling to be successful with an employee who was just extraordinary, but I was struggling and it was only when I discovered that they were a 1 that I understood my impact and that I would say that I could get something done, review something, rewrite something and in my best intentions was I thought it could be done by a certain time.
Don [00:15:16] When I didn’t get it done at that time that I said I would, it was really viewed by this person as kind of a violation of trust. It was very black and white, very specific, no gray. And, once I understood that I could adapt my style and not literally make what were what were seen as promises that I couldn’t keep.
Chelsie [00:15:38] Absolutely. Ones really take you at your word and so, if you say that you’re going to do something or perform in a certain way or have results ready by a certain time, to really honor a 1, it is a good idea to really get within that time frame.
Chelsie [00:15:53] It is also the 1’s Job to realize when they are coming across rigid or when they are having a hard time being flexible. Those in the lower levels when they’re not healthy, they can come across as being over pragmatic or really strict rule follower.
Chelsie [00:16:12] And, really that is where, kind of, the word perfectionism can come in for the one. And the way that I’ve really been reframing that for 1s, is on 1s are beautiful on your team because they’re going to walk into the room and they are going to see all of the potential of what could be really good in this place. And, so they can see the goodness and sometimes they get too focused in on what they think is “right” and what they think is wrong.
Chelsie [00:16:43] And then, they start going by those rigid rules. And, in healthier places if 1s can back up and really look at how the whole team is working together they do really bring in a lot of goodness because they are ethical, because they are doers of good. They can bring a lot of that kind of goodness to a team.
Don [00:17:03] This isn’t a case, Chelsie, and we’re at the end of our time here today, this really isn’t a case of we’re looking for the ideal employee, is a 1 or an 8 or a 5 or any of the nine.
Don [00:17:17] It’s really an understanding that we have all of these types in the workplace. They all bring special characteristics that once we understand them we can maximize them and work with those employees better. Isn’t that the case?
Chelsie [00:17:30] That is absolutely the case. And so, that is another really key understanding of the Ennegram, is there is not one number that is better than the other number. All numbers are good and we need all numbers incorporated into our lives, specifically in the workplace.
Don [00:17:45] What a great way to end this podcast.
Don [00:17:47] Thank you so much, Chelsie, for being with us. And, we look forward to talking about the other two triads in a subsequent podcast starting a week after next.
Chelsie [00:17:57] I cannot wait. Talk to you then.
Don [00:17:59] That’s it for today. I’m your host Don Rheem and thank you for listening.
Don [00:18:03] We promise to continue this discussion with Chelsie and the Enneagram the week after next.
Don [00:18:09] For next week, our guest is Dr. Carylynn Larson, a certified leadership coach, certified professional facilitator and organizational psychologist with roots in the academic study of leadership and team dynamics. Dr. Larson will speak to us about the role of leader as coach in the workplace. See you all next week.
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