People, Success and the Enneagram

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People, Success and the Enneagram

Many people think that if they work their asses off, they will succeed. But of course! You and I are far too wise to believe in that. We know that the People Factor is just as crucial for success as hard work is.

Enter the Enneagram, a framework that can be useful for understanding people and managing relationships more effectively. This body of knowledge already has a steady following among companies and communities in the West and is starting to gain traction in Asia. People are starting to realise that the ability to recognise motivation is just as important, if not more powerful, as being able to categorise behaviour. And this ability is one of the core pillars for success. As German writer and statesman, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, once said, “Whatever you cannot understand, you cannot possess.” It would be hard to be of influence over people whom we do not understand.

Here is a summary of how the Enneagram can be helpful in understanding others and in our attempts to gain influence and success:

The Enneagram works like a cheat sheet for human behaviour.

The Enneagram knowledge reveals that there are nine ways of looking at the world. This corresponds to the nine types of motivations in life. By understanding why people are behaving the way they do, instead of what their behaviour is at a point in time, we would be able to empathise, motivate and manage people better simply because we could now see where they are coming from.

For example, most of us tend to think that people who are loud and brash are just being bullies. But what if I were to tell you that they behave like hooligans simply because they feel vulnerable deep down and are merely trying to gain control of their environment? This would help shed light on how you would deal with this type of person, wouldn’t it? (At least you would know that beneath this rough façade, there’s a teddy bear that just wants to be hugged. Awww….) This is how the Enneagram can serve as a useful quick guide to the complex world of human behaviour. And guess what? This body of knowledge is not based on mere anecdotes. The amount of research done on the Enneagram has grown since its introduction to the modern world in the early 1900s, and it has its fair share of detractors too. Still, the growing interest (just do a Google search) does point to how more and more people found the knowledge beneficial.

A roadmap for self-development.

With the Enneagram, you can no longer excuse your bad habits based on your personality type. This is because the Enneagram essentially focuses on how to break out of the weaknesses that characterise our type and be more flexible in accessing the strengths of the other types. (Spoiler alert: That’s what those lines in the Enneagram symbols are for.)

The Ennea Type 7 (Read: The YOLO! type) could have easily said that he is just not meant for commitments and long-term projects. Or he could focus on developing himself further and decide on exercising greater control over his actions (like the Type 1 Perfectionist) and spend time thinking through a project before launching it (like the Type 5 Observer).

Whether you are an employee or a boss, single or married, we could all do with growth in our lives, and the Enneagram provides a useful map for that journey.

Essential HR Tool

Many HR departments grapple with the challenge of hiring, motivating, retaining and developing talent, especially with the highly mobile workforce today. With the Enneagram, HR managers are able to understand where the employees’ motivations lie and thus suss out whether they would be a good fit for the company culture.

Nevertheless, a word of warning, the Enneagram can be a double-edged sword.

We frequently have bosses who share that they are inclined to hire only a particular type of personality in their workplace (usually, they are looking to hire more Type 3 Achievers. Surprise, surprise…) Well, guess what? When you hire only a particular type of personality at your company, you are also introducing blind spots and weaknesses unique to that type. Worse still, there would be a lack of alternative views in the company to point out these problematic areas. Companies that want to be more holistic in their business approach could use the Enneagram to ensure that they hire a good mix of types in order to make sure that various different views are heard. That is how HR can use the Enneagram to form a more inclusive and balanced company culture.

In this article, a conscientious attempt has been made to avoid making any outlandish claims about the benefits of the Enneagram. Also, it definitely is not the only tool for growth and development, nor for personality profiling. But what the Enneagram is, is this – a meaningful way to understand and empathise with others better. We believe that once we could see where the other party is coming from, and where we and others could go towards growth, that in essence would be the beginning of a fruitful relationship, whether personally or professionally.

Cindy Leong
Cindy Leong
Cindy Leong is a sought after bilingual (English and Mandarin) Enneagram Personality Coach and Corporate Trainer in Asia, who can help you make sense of your professional and personal relationships. She is a member of International Coach Federation (ICF) and Singapore Psychological Society (SPS). Besides a Bachelor Degree in Psychology (majoring in Communications), she also has a Diploma in Business and has done in-depth research and studies in the areas of Organisational Behaviour and Gender Communications, both in Singapore and Taiwan. Through her expertise in corporate executive coaching, personal development, and relationship coaching, she has helped many professionals in their walk through challenging times, particularly in the areas of identity searching, relationship building and career breakthrough. Aside from being a published author of 2 books, she has also been invited by several radio stations and magazines as an expert guest speaker to provide insights into Enneagram, workplace conflicts and relationships.
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