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The Enneagram Types in the Workplace

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The Enneagram can account for a lot of what we do in all aspects of life. When it comes to career and work experience, the Enneagram is especially helpful in highlighting our personality strengths and weak points as a professional. This can help us understand areas we might need to develop in ourselves and also appreciate the areas where we shine. Here is a look at what the Enneagram reveals about each type in the workplace.

Enneagram Type 1: The Reformer

Often known as ‘The Perfectionist’, a Type One individual often displays a ‘black and white’ approach to work. Therefore, they are principled, have exceptionally high attention to detail, are focused on improvement of themselves and others, and tend to have a ‘black and white’ outlook.

This approach works well for Type Ones as they hold themselves and others to very high standards and tend to be honest and focused on business integrity; in short, they focus on how to be ‘good’ both professionally and ethically. The drawback to this is that working in many organizations requires a certain tolerance of grey areas or ambiguity, which Type Ones might be less accepting of.

Reformers also need to channel their unwavering commitment to guidelines and policies by learning how to communicate them to people who put less importance on these matters. Telling someone to do something “…because it is policy” rarely wins allies.

Type Ones would benefit from a structured career with a focus on rules, norms, attention to detail and a systematic approach to the job. Careers in finance, such as an accountant, banker, or auditor, are ideal. Other pathways which offer structure and rules could be architecture, healthcare (especially as a surgeon), the systems side of human resources management, or even as an event planner. Legal services, law enforcement and the military are also great career options.

Enneagram Type 2: The Helper

The core desire of a Type Two is to be appreciated. Type Two individuals have a genuine desire to help others. Caring and selfless, they have a loving and generous nature, and are more likely to work for someone (like a boss) rather than for themselves.

The tendency to put others first can backfire for Type Twos. They are susceptible to neglect their own needs and wants in order to help other people, which can be detrimental to their own ambitions and desires. Similarly, they are very likely to be taken advantage of by people and will rarely see this as taking place because of their optimistic view of others.

Nevertheless, if they balance how they function in the organization, Type Twos will be regarded as valuable and integral members of the team. They can bring a people-focused side to the business, have high emotional intelligence and nurture colleagues and managers, thus taking care of the workforce, which is often seen as the most prized asset in an organization.

Type Twos seek careers where they can bring happiness to others. Jobs such as veterinarians, therapists, doctors, and nurses fit brilliantly, as do many teaching roles. Working in the hospitality industry will also offer great alignment, and Type Twos will see a lot of value working for non-profits or in social work.

Enneagram Type 3: The Achiever

Achievers want to be respected, successful and most importantly of all, they want to win. Type Threes are exceptionally goal-oriented, setting high targets for themselves and others, motivating their team to succeed along the way. Type Threes have a high level of energy to accomplish many things and will likely have more than one career on the go at once.

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Type Threes must understand how to manage people and processes effectively, as failing to do so will alienate their team, lead to frustration, and ultimately result in them not hitting their targets. There are few things as frustrating to an Achiever than being stifled at work and not being able to accomplish what needs to be done. Some people can also become jealous of Achievers and try to derail their ambitions.

Achievers will function best when the work environment allows them to accomplish their goals and objectives. They will seek out environments who already have high-performing individuals and teams.

One of the best careers for an Achiever is to become an entrepreneur. Target-based careers will include investment banking, becoming a real estate agent, politician, or a senior or strategic manager. Other suitable careers can be those with a great degree of responsibility and autonomy, such as marketing manager, advertising executive or careers in social media management.

Enneagram Type 4: The Individualist

As the name suggests, Individualists love to carve their own path at work. They are creative, complex individuals, and their unique outlook means they prefer to work in unusual ways, seeking environments where their individuality is appreciated and understood. If nurtured well, Individualists can make huge contributions to an organization, leaving their legacy and driving things forward through ideas and inspiration.

Individualists need a job which caters to who they are. They are at high risk of being stifled or unable to accomplish what they want to do if their expectations are not aligned with those of the organization. Type Fours are so individualistic and creative that they might struggle with entrepreneurial activity, so they need to find a manager who understands who they are and allow them to perform at their best. This is easier said than done.

Individualists prefer workplace cultures that will foster innovation and creativity. The creative industries are by far and away the best match for a Type Four. The best career types can include being an artist, singer, music producer or a writer. Certain jobs in graphic design or architecture – those which are more focused on the creative, rather than the technical side – will also appeal to an Individualist. They will also find a lot of comfort working in advertising, maybe as artist or a copywriter, where they have freedom to come up with the big ideas.

Enneagram Type 5: The Investigator

Type Fives are curious, intelligent people who enjoy complex challenges and tricky problem solving. They seek to be understood and appreciated as competent, wide individuals. Investigators are often also referred to as ‘Observers’, as they like to watch, understand and learn from the environment around them. This in turn helps them to improve and develop themselves.

Investigators do not cope well with tedious or boring work. They will become disengaged with this and tend to perform poorly. They are typically not the most sociable individuals and will work better if left alone to come up with ideas and solutions, so might not work at their best in large teams or open plan offices. They are highly self-motivated and as such, might not take too well in needing to micromanage others.

Career paths which will allow Investigators to bring out their ‘Sherlock Holmes’ side are, obviously, being a detective, but will also include others such as forensic investigator, psychologist, intelligence analyst, or researcher. Other careers which are focused on problem solving can include being a scientist, engineer, or a developer or coder. Any career in analysis or any one particular deep specialism will also complement Investigators very well.

Enneagram Type 6: The Loyalist

Above all else, Loyalists desire safety and job security. Type Sixes are very responsible, loyal, and committed, and as such, make great employees and friends. As such, they will seek out jobs which can provide this security and allow them to contribute positively to goals and targets over a long period of time.

Loyalists are the ‘voice of reason’ in an organization. They can weigh up what is right and wrong, and play ‘Devil’s Advocate’ when it comes to making decisions or being leaned on for advice. They are dependable and can be seen as trusted, stable pillars of support in any organization.

Loyalists will rarely be effective in unstable, agile environments, such as start-ups. As they are risk averse, such cultures will not allow them to perform at their best. Similarly, loyalists might struggle with challenging leaders or environments where there is favoritism or a lack of support. To some, this might see them being perceived as inflexible.

The best career paths for Type Sixes are those which offer stability, progressive ways to contribute, and longstanding relationships. Jobs in the government or civil service are perhaps best suited to this, as are careers in healthcare or teaching. Jobs in law or banking are also very stable and will provide a suitable working environment as well.

Enneagram Type 7: The Enthusiast

Enthusiasts seek happiness at work. They are often dynamic individuals, seeking variety in a job and work at their best when they are allowed to be dynamic and busy. Type Sevens are also very optimistic, cheerful people. They love to have fun and seek enjoyment in every situation.

The high energy levels of an Enthusiast mean that they are quick to apply themselves to tasks; sometimes a little too quick! They prefer to work for themselves, or to be given a wide remit of responsibility allows them to get on with what they want. These factors make working with an Enthusiast a fun experience, as well as very energizing and inspiring.

Type Sevens tend to be a little chaotic. In the workplace, this translates to not being able to keep at one, stable task for an excessively long time, as well as being disorganized with time and resources. Enthusiasts love to think big, and as such will not want to get bogged down in small details, which will bore them.

The best career paths for Enthusiasts to channel their energies are in the creative industries, such as television, social media, or radio. They will enjoy content creating, but also other creative and social avenues such as hairstyling, being a chef or working in any environment which allows variety and a chance to travel freely. Project management or fixed term assignments would also be very appealing to a Type Seven.

Enneagram Type 8: The Challenger

Challengers just want to get the job done, at all costs. They are typically very hard workers and will stop at nothing to make sure something is completed. As people, Type Eights are confident in their abilities and have a strong presence – they are natural, assertive leaders. They often also have a strong sense of justice and moral right. As such, they are valued for their ability to get on with the hard graft, lead teams in times of difficulty and make tough decisions.

The uncompromising, competitive nature of Challengers means that they are not exactly people persons. They will valiantly seek to protect people but can be difficult to work with and dislike having others get in their way. As such, they risk alienating colleagues and will not fit well in an organization or job which requires soft touches or harbors a gentle culture.

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Type Eights make great senior leaders. As such, directors or CEO roles are a natural landing point for these people. Other career paths could be senior legal roles, investment banking, real estate, or corporate strategy. Even roles like TV or movie direction or production would be a good fit. Other careers which would suit Challengers are ones which would appeal to their regimented, justice-driven side, such as the military, or law enforcement.

Enneagram Type 9: The Peacemaker

Peacemakers are great teammates. They naturally bring teams together, are collaborative and, in contrast to the Challengers above, will avoid conflict. Peacemakers also seek balance. They want to find a comfortable job, a satisfactory work-life balance and prefer to take time in making decisions and thinking things over.

Type Nines are extremely effective at mediating conflict. They can build great teams, divide work appropriately and create fair and equitable workplaces. Their conflict-averse approach can mean, however, that they are perceived to be weak or indecisive. As such, they may not be natural leaders, and might not speak up immediately if things are bothering them. They will struggle in toxic workplaces or overtly competitive, anonymous cultures.

The very best careers for Type Nines are those which will appeal to their calming, peaceful and equitable instincts. Human resources management is a close fit, as is social work, therapy, and nursing. Peacemakers might also enjoy working for organizations which promote this idea of the ‘greater good’, such as humanitarian organizations or non-profits, as well as activism.

Peacemakers can lead organizations, but generally must work harder at doing so, or lead in a collaborative manner, with a strong right-hand person to assist them in making the tough calls and addressing conflict appropriately.

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Jetta Moon

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