Enneagram in the Workplace

Empowering teams through insight and self-discovery

What is the Enneagram?

The word “Enneagram” comes from the Greek words ennea, meaning “nine,” and gram, meaning “what is written or drawn.” The Enneagram is an ancient typology that consists of nine distinct personalities, or archetypes, that emphasize specific psychological and behavioral traits. The 9 types are mapped on a circle as shown below. It is a system that is used to identify personal motivations, emotions, and behavior. Each Enneagram type, identified as a number, has its own core values, thinking styles, reactive tendencies, and preferred strategies for coping with life’s challenges. It is a powerful tool for personal growth, offering insight and deep understanding into one’s own motivations, strengths, and development areas. When one understands their own motivations, and learns of the other 8 core motivations, they can communicate in a much more compassionate and understanding way.  We must understand our own lens through which we see the world and recognize that everyone has their own lens.

This chart illustrates the 9 Enneagram types and critical connections between specific types.

What is the iEQ9?

Integrative Enneagram Solutions, based in in Cape Town, South Africa, has taken the world’s best Enneagram theories and put them together in a science-based assessment called the iEQ9 (www.integrative9.com). This assessment goes beyond analyzing typical behavioral patterns to uncover a person’s core motivations. It is an adaptive assessment with a documented reliability of over 95% in identifying an individuals’ core motivations, behavioral patterns, influences, communication and feedback preferences, development exercises, and so much more in a 42-page personalized report. This is not another behavioral assessment that describes “what” you do. It uncovers “why.” VMS uses this tool with individual coaching clients and entire executive teams and is witnessing deep transformation.

After administering the iEQ9 to clients, VMS practitioners often receive feedback that this tool has given clients a deeper insight into themselves and their colleagues than any previous assessments.

Enneagram in action.

Though the iEQ9 can be used at the personal and professional level, it is when teams come together to connect with this new view of each other that magic happens. Two teammates who have been at a stalemate finally understand that they are trying to solve for completely different outcomes. A leader and her team member discover for the first time that their frustrating weekly meetings are the result of different motivations: the leader wants to connect with him on a personal level and leaves every meeting feeling the team member is angry or unfeeling, the teammate wants to prove how efficient he is by presenting multiple successful reports and finishes their meeting with time to spare. The teammate doesn’t understand why nothing presented seems to be enough to please their leader. They both asked for “a meeting.” They both left with assumptions intact and unspoken disappointment. Once they discovered each other’s core motivations, this new connection and relationship resulted in improved meeting efficiency and productivity. Finally, they could ask for what each person really wanted. The leader wanted a meeting of connection. The team member wanted a meeting to prove their professional worth.

The iEQ9 also produces Team Reports. Whole teams are assessed to reveal their composition, as shown in the figure above, and offers teams an in-depth understanding of their team dynamics. It provides insight into areas of potential conflict and team strengths as well as actionable strategies to help teams create a more positive and productive environment. By understanding team dynamics, teams can focus on areas that need improvement, create strategies to manage conflict, and improve communication and collaboration. This knowledge will help teams become more efficient and successful in achieving their goals.

Creating a culture shift.

We worked with a local executive team within a larger state-wide organization that was going through a transition. They had the potential to be a high-performing team; however, individuals were functioning too independently and not integrating as a unified team. A push-pull dynamic was illuminated through the course of this project in how the leader and overall team responded differently to challenges. Through deep conversation about their individual motivations, the leader was able to explain the intensity of her passion for ensuring people of diverse backgrounds have opportunities not only to thrive in their current roles but to excel and ultimately be promoted. This discussion dispelled unfounded assumptions and increased their alignment around how to implement their organization’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging goals at the local level.

As Ashley Carson, senior vice president at VMS, explains, “The Enneagram assessment explains not how we show up, but why we show up. What is driving us to show up to life in the way we do? The Enneagram helps people to see themselves in a new way and helps them to communicate that knowledge with their peers so they can all collaborate and communicate more productively. The common language that’s developed through the process of using this tool with a team has a humanizing effect that creates space for vulnerability and deeper connection–resulting in profoundly higher trust levels.”

If you’re interested in discovering what motivates you and better understanding yourself and your work relationships, contact VMS.  Unlock your team’s potential.

Ashley Carson, senior vice president at VMS, and Marne Maykowskyj, organizational development consultant at VMS, are certified in the use of the iEQ9.

About the Authors

Ashley Carson, MSOD, ACC, CVS

Ashley, an Enneagram type Self Preservation 9, heads up our organization development team. She is passionate about helping individuals and teams develop greater capacity for transformational change and helping organizations reach their goals by empowering their people’s strengths. After hours she can be found experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen with her husband and throwing a ball outside with her two playful pups.

Marne Maykowskyj, MSOD, VMA

Marne, an Enneagram type Social 7, has 25+ years of experience designing and facilitating experiences from the built environment to building community. From one-on-one coaching to small team development to large-group statewide summits, she has successfully facilitated events that make a difference. Marne truly lives what she does by looking for the beauty in all her interactions. She enjoys delicious conversations with friends, spending time with family, and learning everything she can.