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Ethical Challenges | The Enneagram’s Use in Organizations | Leadership

Maybe you’re wondering why I would include leadership in this trio of controversial uses of the Enneagram. Isn’t leadership a staple among the common uses of the system in organizations? Yes it is, but not so long ago (even in the last eight years), there were numbers of Enneagrammers who balked at the idea. And I am sure (110% sure) there still are people who say this is an unethical use of the Enneagram. So I include it in this trio of blogs.

Why we shouldn’t use the Enneagram in leadership
| There are many reasons given for this position, but underneath all objections is this idea: the Enneagram is a pure system and most organizations are not pure. Therefore, the leaders within them should not have access to such a profound system because they will misuse it for ends that are not compatible with the system itself. Another way of saying this is that the Enneagram is about developing a high level of consciousness, but organizations work from a lower level of evolution – for example, the accumulation of money, power, and fame. I am not saying that I agree with this position, only that there is something to be explored here.

In addition, I have heard many times over that leaders, if taught the Enneagram will use it to manipulate people who work in their organizations. I think this means that leaders could use enneatype to harm people (hiring and firing by type are examples) or get those who work for them to do unethical things by using the motivation of type structure to enable this. I can honestly say that I have never seen a leader do this, but perhaps this is because I work selectively with organizations, tending toward the more open and progressive companies (Genentech, Salesforce) and/or leaders (Nestle in Eastern Europe). I have also never heard reports of this occurring. I think that leaders who are fearful and manipulative or power hungry are not attracted to the Enneagram because it clarifies and empowers.

How we can use the Enneagram in leadership | To start, I don’t think companies any more than individuals are all at a low level of consciousness (think spiral dynamics!). Some are more conscious than others. And conscious organizations usually want to be even more conscious, just like people.

At the same time, I do think that, as with sales and hiring, it all depends on how the Enneagram is brought into an organization and then what the organization and leader does with the system. When the Enneagram is brought into a company by a consultant or trainer, and if it is brought in with integrity (accurately, fully, with ethical use included), a low consciousness organization won’t use the consultant or system more than for one event. In fact, this kind of organization may never bring it in at all. These kinds of organizations won’t be attracted to us or to the system. As one of my colleagues once stated, “Learning the Enneagram is just too hard, too much work for someone who wants to use it in destructive ways. There are simpler ways to destroy an organization.”

In my view, it is also up to the consultant and trainer to take responsibility for the organizations in which they use the Enneagram and how it is introduced. Ah, can a consultant and/or trainer say, “No, I won’t work with you no matter how much I am being paid?” Yes, we should all be able to do that.

I actually believe we need to bring the Enneagram into organizations. My first motivation years ago was to bring the Enneagram into organizations because that is where people congregate. What a way to spread consciousness, a distribution channel of sorts, that could also make organizations more effective (otherwise, why hire us?). But in the last several years, I have added a second intention. In addition to helping raise the consciousness of individuals, the Enneagram is amazing at raising the consciousness of organizations. When working with individuals in an organization, there is a multiplier effect where a critical mass of more conscious people who then make the organizations systems and process more awake, well, consciousness rises!

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