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Leadership, credibility, and the enneagram

No one really understands what makes excellence in leaders. This was explained to me years ago by Warner Burke, a professor from Colombia University, an OD consultant for decades and the author of numerous management and OD books. His perspective was that this was why there were so many leadership books written – that is, no one knows for sure and what is deemed important shifts with the times.

That said, almost everyone would agree that leadership credibility is central, though not the only factor. But what is credibility? It is the quality of being trustable; being reliable and dependable; and having integrity, which involves having positive and constructive values as well as having one’s behavior aligned with these.

What makes someone trustworthy, dependable and in alignment with one’s values? Here’s where the Enneagram as a source of leadership development comes in. To be trustable, dependable (not erratic or constantly changing) and have integrity requires leaders to know who they are, to be true to themselves, to appear to be palpably authentic, and to be calm and centered so their behavior is not erratic and they are more likely to handle the pressures of the job well.

The Enneagram helps people and leaders do exactly that. Our leadership styles – and we all need to have one to be predictable and consistent enough and, therefore, more trustworthy– grow directly from our Enneagram types. Leadership styles are actually paradigms or mental models about what leadership is and what leaders should do. When leaders actually lead from their natural leadership style, they come across as more authentic or true to themselves and they experience less job stress since they are not trying to be someone other than who they are. And if they are also working on their self-mastery as persons and leaders, their integrity-quotient rises.

Below are the brief descriptions of the nine Enneagram types and their corresponding leadership paradigms. After that are a few more tips aout leadership, credibility and the Enneagram.

The 9 Leadership Paradigms
Ones seek a perfect world and work diligently to improve both themselves and everyone and everything around them.
Leadership Paradigm | A leader’s job is to set clear goals and inspire others to achieve the highest quality.

Twos want to be liked, try to meet the needs of others, and attempt to orchestrate the people and events in their lives.
Leadership Paradigm | A leader’s job is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of team members and motivate and facilitate people toward the achievement of organizational goals.

Threes organize their lives to achieve specific goals and to appear successful in order to gain the respect and admiration of others.
Leadership Paradigm | A leader’s job is to create an environment that achieves results because people understand the organization’s goals and structure.

Fours desire deep connections both with their interior worlds and with other people, and they feel most alive when they authentically express their feelings.
Leadership Paradigm | A leader’s job is to create organizations that give people meaning and purpose so that they are inspired to do excellent work.

Fives thirst for information and knowledge and use emotional detachment as a way of keeping involvement with others to a minimum.
Leadership Paradigm | A leader’s job is to develop an effective organization through research, deliberation, and planning, so that all systems fit together and people are working on a common mission.

Sixes have insightful minds, and create worst-case or anticipatory scenarios to help themselves feel prepared in case something goes wrong.
Leadership Paradigm | A leader’s job is to solve organizational problems by developing a creative problem-solving environment in which each person feels that he or she is part of the solution.

Sevens crave the stimulation of new ideas, people, and experiences, avoid pain, and create elaborate future plans that will allow them to keep all of their options open.
Leadership Paradigm | A leader’s job is to get people excited and to create innovative ventures so that the organization can take advantage of new and important business opportunities.

Eights pursue the truth, like to keep situations under control, want to make important things happen, and try to hide their vulnerability.
Leadership Paradigm | A leader’s job is to move the organization forward by leading decisively, getting capable and reliable people into the right jobs, and empowering competent people to take action.

Nines seek peace, harmony, and positive mutual regard and dislike conflict, tension, and ill will.
Leadership Paradigm | A leader’s job is to help achieve the collective mission by creating a clearly structured and harmonious work environment.

More Tips on Leadership, Credibility and the Enneagram
Some leaders say they lead from all nine leadership paradigms, and this is what I say to them: “If you are leading from one paradigm on Monday, another on Tuesday, then another on Wednesday and so forth, you will appear inconsistent and erratic to those whom you are supposed to lead.” Be true to who you are!

Some leaders say that they lead from a type that is not their own type. To these leaders I say this: “Why is that? If you are modeling someone who was your boss early on in your career, then you are mimicking him or her, causing yourself unnecessary stress because in a role that is not who you really are, and likely coming across to others as not entirely real or sincere. If you are doing this because that style is the prevailing accepted leadership style in your organization, then there is an organizational issue here. In other words, this is a kind of leadership cloning that doesn’t bring out the best in leaders and stifles innovation.” Be true to who you are!

Some leaders say, “Yes, but I am leading from a style that is on my Enneagram map – that is, an arrow line leadership style of a wing-based leadership style. For example, I am a 9, but I lead more from type 8 and type 3.” To these people, I say, ”Good for you, as this shows you are using a wing (8) and arrow (3) as resources in your leadership capabilities. But are you also honoring and using the type 9 leadership style. But, if you use and honor your nineness and integrate these other two wing and arrow lines, you are more resourced as a leader! And what if, after you affirm and use your nine leadership paradigm, you could also use your 1 wing and your 6 arrow line should the situation be well served if you did.” Be true to who you are!

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