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The Enneagram Meets Tribal Leadership

One of the most important and least visible aspects of organizations is organizational culture, but leaders need to lead from within and even mold their organization’s culture to get anything done, to generate innovation, and to ignite organizational change. David Logan and colleagues have changed all of that with their New York Times’ bestseller, Tribal Leadership. Based on extensive research (and supported by some key concepts from Ken Wilbur), Dave has aptly defined 5 stages of tribal culture, in which getting to levels 4, and especially 5, enable teams and organizations to perform at their best.

Luckily for the Enneagram, Dave and his colleagues at CultureSync love the Enneagram and use it themselves. And luckily for me, I know Dave, having taught him, his wife, and another key CultureSync person the Enneagram many years ago at UCLA. Dave, by the way, is a professor at USC (a big-time UCLA rival), so he has admitted to some angst coming to UCLA for the program.

So when Dave contacted me to ask if I would do a “Mega Mash-Up” with him on Tribal Leadership and the Enneagram, it was an easy yes! A “Mega Mash-Up” is, I learned, a highly professional linkage between two (maybe more) approaches that have the potential to create something even bigger. They are spontaneous (but planned) so that creative ideas can emerge. Our “Mega Mash-Up” with Tribal Leadership was really fun to do and got rave comments from participants afterwards. So we will definitely do more or something else together on this, but what it will be is in creation!

Dave is such an Enneagram proponent (as are others involved with CultureSync) and his enthusiasm is so contagious that I think we should put him on the road promoting the Enneagram and told him so jokingly on the “Mega Mash-Up.” For my part, I will try to do everything I can to make the session recording available as widely as possible.

In the meantime, I decided to write a blog sharing the 5 Tribal Stages and how they integrate with the Enneagram, starting with the highest (most optimal) Tribal Stage 5 and ending with the lowest, Tribal Stage 1:

Tribal Stage 5 | Life is great (2% of the population)
Thoughts | We’re all in this together!
Feelings | wonder, delight, innocence
Behavior | dedicated to big global impact, do not sub-optimize for their own benefit

Enneagram style sentiments at this stage
ONES | Everything really is perfect just as it is.
TWOS | All of us are here for a profound purpose.
THREES | Flow and natural order lie under all we are and all we do.
FOURS | At the deepest levels, we are all connected.
FIVES | True engagement of everyone illuminates the wisdom that guides us all.
SIXES | There is meaning and certainty everywhere and in everyone.
SEVENS | The bigger plan is bigger than all of us that we can trust.
EIGHTS | Our innocence is not lost; it is gained through being deeply open to everyone and everything.
NINES | Unconditional regard, respect, and love link us together.

Tribal Stage 4 | We’re great (and they’re not) (22% of the population)
Thoughts | Everyone should be like us!
Feelings | tribal pride, excitement, group (tribe) superiority
Behavior | enthusiastic dedication to work on behalf of the group (tribe)

Enneagram style sentiments at this stage
ONES | Why aren’t they more responsible and diligent?
TWOS | Why aren’t they more compassionate and generous?
THREES | Why aren’t they more effective and accomplished?
FOURS | Why aren’t they more soulful and creative?
FIVES | Why aren’t they more self-contained and smart?
SIXES | Why aren’t they more planful and loyal?
SEVENS | Why aren’t they more exciting and innovative?
EIGHTS | Why aren’t they more strategic and truthful?
NINES | Why aren’t they more tolerant and respectful?

Tribal Stage 3 | I’m great (and you’re not) (49% of the population)
Thoughts | Everyone should be like me!
Feelings | arrogance and individual superiority (I am the lone noble warrior)
Behavior | individualistic, competitive, need to outshine and out-win others

Enneagram style sentiments at this stage
ONES | Nobody’s as well organized, right and responsible as me.
TWOS | Nobody’s as thoughtful, generous and kind as me.
THREES | Nobody’s as successful, confident and effective as me.
FOURS | Nobody’s as sensitive, creative and profound as me.
FIVES | Nobody’s as smart, strategic and self-contained as me.
SIXES | Nobody’s as careful, concerned and insightful as me.
SEVENS | Nobody’s as inventive, clever and free as me.
EIGHTS | Nobody’s as just, big and truthful as me.
NINES | Nobody’s as calm, respectful and accepting as me.

Tribal Stage 2 | My life sucks (25% of the population)
Thoughts | What’s wrong with me?
Feelings | apathy, victimhood, everything fails
Behavior | no innovation, no urgency, passive antagonism, resistant

Enneagram style sentiments at this stage
ONES | Other people seem more self-accepting, have more fun, and are less critical than me. I wish I were a ___ (a 9, a 2, or a 7).
TWOS | Other people seem more certain, more powerful, and get more of their needs met than me. I wish I were a ___ (a 3, an 8, or a 1).
THREES | Other people seem more satisfied, more brilliant, and more fulfilled than me. I wish I were ___ (an 8, a 7, or a 5).
FOURS | Other people seem more stable, potent, and less deficient than me. I wish I were a ___ (a 7, a 3, or an 8).
FIVES | Other people seem more engaged and less drained than me. I wish I were a ___ (a 2, a 3, or a 7).
SIXES | Other people seem more certain and less anxious than me. I wish I were a ___ (a 1, a 3, or a 5).
SEVENS | Other people seem more solid and more whole than me. I wish I were a ___ (a 5, an 8, or a 3).
EIGHTS | Other people seem more supported and more vulnerable than me. I wish I were a ___ (a 6, a 2, or a 9).
NINES | Other people seem more emotional and creative than me. I wish I were a ___ (a 4, a 2, or 7).

Tribal Stage 1 | Life sucks (2% of the population)
Thoughts | What’s wrong with life?
Feelings | despairing hostility
Behavior | undermining, aggression (externalized anger), passivity (internalized anger masked as depression or passive aggression)

Enneagram style sentiments at this stage
ONES | There’s nothing good about me.
TWOS | Nobody really cares about me except when they want to use me.
THREES | Nothing I do really matters, so I can’t do anything.
FOURS | The world and I are full of unrelenting pain and suffering.
FIVES | I am destined to a life of eternal isolation and exhaustion.
SIXES | There is no one I can ever truly trust.
SEVENS | I have nowhere to turn or to escape, and the pain is excruciating.
EIGHTS | Everyone is out to overpower and violate everyone else.
NINES | I don’t matter in any way.

Dave Logan and CultureSync work with a wide array of clients in many industries helping them identify their tribal levels and then assisting them in how to progress up the tribal chain! Here are just a few examples: health care (Cigna ); universities (Claremont Colleges); financial (Charles Schwab); pharmaceuticals (Amgen); government (United States Air Force Academy); technology (Symantec); and non-profits (Getty Foundation).

If you want more information on CultureSync, visit: http://www.culturesync.net/

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Robbin Whittington
9 years ago

Really enjoyed the call!

Joseph of Seek Out Wisdom

I missed the call, but I’d love to hear the replay. Thanks!

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