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Coaching with the enneagram | deeper, better, faster and more sustainable coaching

This blog is the first in a series of three for the ICF (International Coach Federation) that positions why the Enneagram is so useful in coaching. For those new to coaching with the Enneagram, my hope is that you find it informative. For those familiar with the Enneagram in coaching, the concepts may be helpful in positioning your coaching/Enneagram practice.

If you want to enhance your coaching skillset with a personality system that works with any coaching methodology, the ancient system called the Enneagram is worth exploring. That’s why many innovative companies – for example, Genentech/Roche, Salesforce.com – as well as organizations that have longstanding track records for success, such as Nestle, Best Buy and Avon, are using the Enneagram.

More than a personality system, the Enneagram is a map of the human character, one that defines nine different styles, identified as numbers One through Nine, each reflecting worldviews and motivational structures, distinct habits of thinking, feeling, and behaving, and unique paths to develop in almost any personal or professional area. Cross-cultural and uncannily accurate, the Enneagram is ideal for coaches to use with clients and for the coach’s own personal and professional development.

The 9 Enneagram Types | what they seek and avoid
Ones | Seek perfection; avoid making mistakes
Twos | Seek appreciation and being needed; avoid feeling unworthy
Threes | Seek respect and admiration; avoid failure
Fours | Seek self-expression and connections with others; avoid rejection and deficiency
Fives | Seek knowledge and wisdom; avoid intrusion by others and loss of energy
Sixes | Seek certainty, meaning and trust; avoid negative scenarios from occurring
Sevens | Seek stimulation and pleasure; avoid pain and discomfort
Eights | Seek control and justice; avoid feeling vulnerable or weak
Nines | Seek harmony and comfort; avoid direct conflict and ill will

The Enneagram is not a quick fix, and that is a good thing for clients who are serious about their development and coaches who serve them well. Although there are numerous online Enneagram typing tests available, none of them have sufficient validity and reliability results to accurately identify a person’s type with certainty.

However, identifying your type through introspection rather than testing is a good thing because the Enneagram works best when coaching clients engage in self-discovery, peeling away the layers of their inner-workings through self-observation and self-reflection. In addition, the Enneagram in Business Network Best Practices Benchmark Report – a robust study of 72 companies that had used the Enneagram successfully with positive and sustainable results for a minimum of 18 months – found that the 3rd most important critical success factor in these initiatives was “balanced, accurate self-discovery” to identify a person’s type because it enabled people to “avoid labeling and go beyond numbers to personality integration.” Coaching is the 5th most used Enneagram application (35 out of 72 companies), following communication, leadership, teams, and EQ.

Having coached for nearly 40 years, when I discovered the Enneagram 20 years ago, I wondered how I had ever coached without it, using it with my clients, but also for my own development as a coach and as a person. As one of my clients said so well, “The Enneagram does not put you in a box. It shows you the box you were already in and how to grow beyond those boundaries.”

Visit Enneagram-Coaching.com for more information.

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