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“Multipliers” and the enneagram

I recently attended the Hudson Institute of Coaching’s annual Learning Conference, not because I am a Hudson trained coach, but because I went to support the CEO, Pam McLean who is a colleague, friend, and client. Quite recently, her husband of many years, Frederick Hudson, died after 15+ years with Alzheimers; Frederick was a visionary thinker, founding president of Fielding Institute and founder of the Hudson Institute.

Pam has carried on his legacy for years and made her own legacy along the way, and these Learning Conferences have up to 200 very well-trained coaches who get to group and re-group in interesting coaching conversations, but also to hear great lecturers who are top-notch in their fields. I had the honor of presenting the Enneagram a few years ago, and this year, I went to support Pam with my longtime friend Beverly Kaye, who is an old friend of Pam’s and the queen of the career development universe (in my opinion, she is the best!).

I decided to write a blog about each presenter and integrate what he or she had to say with the Enneagram. Comparisons are good, but integrations are even better. First was Liz Wiseman, who was supposed to be speaking about her new book “Rookie Smarts,” but spent much more time on the concepts in her first book, “Multipliers.” This was good for me as the concepts in “Multipliers” more directly relate to the Enneagram!

Core concept of “multipliers”
Aimed at leadership development, Liz describes the kind of leader we want and need in today’s organizations and the kind of leader we often become, even unintentionally. “Multipliers” are leaders who spark the genius of others and bring out the individual and collective intelligence. “Diminishers,” on the other hand, are leaders who are absorbed in their own ideas, stifle genius in others, and deplete organizations of their capability. According to Liz’s research, the former type of leader – the “Multiplier” – gets 2X the capability out of employees compared to the “Diminishers,” who gets about 50% from each person.

“Multipliers” do several things: attract and utilize the best talent; create intensity at work that requires best thinking; challenge people constantly through stretches; drive rigorous debate around ideas; invest in others and gives the ownership in results.

Core concept of “diminishers”
“Diminishers” think that “People won’t figure it out without me,” and so, of course, people don’t and won’t. It is fair to say that few leaders want to diminish genius in others intentionally, so assume these behaviors are more unintentional. Liz Wiseman lists a number of “Diminisher“ behaviors, many of which map to the 9 enneatypes, as seen below:

Enneagram One diminisher | the micromanager
Leaders who are micromanagers drive for results through their personal involvement with all aspects of the operations, often thinking you can’t count on others to do the job unless you as a leader are watching every detail or doing it yourself.

Enneagram Two potential diminisher | the rescuer
Leaders who are rescuers may intend to help others be successful and simultaneously protect them, the issue becomes that others come to depend on that leader, keeping themselves less responsible and accountable in the process.

Enneagram Three potential diminisher | the rapid responder
Leaders who are rapid responders try to keep their organization moving fast because they move fast and expect others to drive for results in the same way. The problem occurs when obstacles arise, traffic jams occur, or the path chosen needs to be altered.

Enneagram Four potential diminisher | the pacesetter
Leaders who are pacesetters set high standards for quality, excellence, pace or all three. They want others to follow their lead and vision – “If you could only see what I see …,” – and, of course, this doesn’t always occur. Pulling too far ahead or too far afield from those you lead rarely works well.

Enneagram Five potential diminisher | the know-it-all
Leaders who believe or act like they know it all rarely do, but they typically give directives based on how much they do know. This orientation does not always serve to encourage others to share what they know, what they think, and to solve problems collectively.

Enneagram Six potential diminisher | the idea guy
Leaders who are idea guys (idea women) intend for their ideas to be stimulators – that is, to both stimulate others and to be stimulated by others, bouncing around plausible alternatives. However, people who follow leaders like these can end up feeling overwhelmed, shut down or they might engage in too much over-action. (note: this applies more to Six leaders with a strong dose of counterphobia).

Enneagram Seven potential diminisher | always on
Leaders who are always on try to create infectious energy to get others to come around to their point of view and to embrace their exciting ideas. The issue is that they can consume all the space for idea generation, and others can tune out due to overwhelm, exhaustion or lack of clarity about what matters.

Enneagram Eight potential diminisher | the decision maker
Leaders who are decision makers often make centralized, abrupt decisions that confuse the organization, and followers can experience this: “The titanic has just changed direction in a major way, so what do we do with the course we were on, and will we sink?”

Enneagram Nine potential diminisher | the optimist
Leaders who are optimists work from a belief system that the team can do it, but they may not recognize the difficulty or stress involved in overcoming obstacles, dealing with conflict or failure, and more.

Summary Note
Liz cites two more “Diminishers” that are not included here, but are worth noting: The Empire Builder and the Tyrant. Empire Builders hoard resources and underutilize talent, while Tyrants create tense work environments that suppress people’s thinking and capability.

You could legitimately say (as I do myself) that some of the above mapping of “Diminishers” with Enneagram type could be remapped. For example, The Optimist could map to type Three leaders and type Seven leaders. The Idea Guy could also map to type Seven leaders. But this is just to get the whole conversation started about how we can be leaders who are Multipliers, part of which involves ways in which we may be “Diminishers” without knowing it.

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of four best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: The Enneagram in Business.com. ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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7 years ago

A very interesting article. I was not entirely familiar with the concept of enneagrams in business; however, there is some substance to this. Particularly in terms of differentiating “managers” from “leaders” and in understanding how your decision making style can impact your team and your business.

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