enneagram and work

If you’ve been around long enough, you would have inevitably been introduced to a personality test. They can help with individual relationships, conflict management, and personal-development.

The problem with many personality tools out there is that it focuses on behaviors—not beliefs. It helps manages relationships but not necessarily build relationships. 

As we continue to grow in our awareness of patriarchy and prejudice around us, we must do more than manage. We must build.

We have to build bridges of understanding and appreciation if we are to take down the walls of patriarchy and prejudice.

Introducing the Enneagram

Over the many years I have worked with bringing together and leading diverse individuals and groups of people, I have found the Enneagram personality tool to be the most effective of all. 

The Enneagram is a framework of 9 different ways human beings understand and approach life. Each type has a unique set of strengths, weaknesses, fears, and values; along with a perspective on life and the world.

If the Enneagram was fully utilized in communities and companies effectively, people would be more understanding and appreciative of people different than themselves. Not just different in behaviors (extrovert vs. introvert), but different in beliefs (life is about peace vs. life is about accomplishments).

If more people believed that all personalities had something to offer, patriarchy and prejudice would be much smaller issues.

The Enneagram and Patriarchy

In the Enneagram, there is a personality called the Type 9 Peacemaker. They are easy-going, humble and naturally seek out the opinions and viewpoints of others. They do not work for their own entitlement or ego, but for the community and company.

From my reading and experience, women generally prefer to approach leadership like Type 9 Peacemakers. They do not see the workplace as a race to the top where there are only winners or losers but rather as a community toward a common cause.

For as long as we can remember however, the world has been run by ambitious and egotistical, male, Type 3Achievers, the practically opposite of Peacemakers.

As a result, our society overvalues the Achiever approach to life and leadership preferred by men and undervalues the Peacemaker approach preferred by women.

The Enneagram and Prejudice

As the world has been run by men, so has American been run by white. This is simply a statement of history, not of judgment.

White-American culture values ambition and independence, the very values and traits of the Type 3 Achiever.

Speaking on what I am most familiar with, Asian culture on the other hand is a Type 6 Loyalist  culture which values authority and community. Asians therefore generally do not speak up in groups or meetings in respect for leadership and to maintain group cohesion.

This public silence however is often misinterpreted as either ignorance or arrogance by those with a White-Western worldview—creating what is familiarly known as the glass ceiling. 

How the Enneagram Can Combat Patriarchy and Prejudice

One of the greatest strengths of the Enneagram is that it’s not simply a personality tool but a culture tool. It provides language and a framework to understand “other” people as individuals and groups.

If the goal in the fight against patriarchy and prejudice is a full appreciation of the different gifts and perspectives women and other cultures provide and to see that tangibly in companies and leadership, then it must first start with understanding— understanding the weaknesses of male and white-culture, and the strengths of women and other cultures.

By embracing the Enneagram’s central message that all personalities and therefore all cultures are made with different strengths and weaknesses yet equally, this can begin building bridges between between people at the workplace and in the world.

Men and women. White and non-white.

Through the Enneagram, a person can begin to see and appreciate a quality in another person that they may have never appreciated before. And if they can appreciate it once in one, maybe one day they will appreciate it always and in all people.

Although combating patriarchy and prejudice will not be solved by the Enneagram— it sure can be supported.