Using The Enneagram In Business

Why the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is being used in business more and more with organisations such as Disney, Sony, Johnson & Johnson all using it to enhance business performance.  The question is why is the Enneagram so beneficial to us and to organisations?

In order to understand how the Enneagram can be useful in the business arena we need to look at some of the questions that are fundamental to our self-identity and can run as a background murmur in our interactions with others.

Key questions that the Enneagram can help us answer are: Who am I, who are you and who am I in relation to you?  In the organisational context these fundamental concerns sit alongside questions relating to self-identity, role, interpersonal interaction, status and self and other-evaluation.  Much of the attention and energy expended in focussing on them is primarily in internal self-talk, self-judgement, comparison and evaluation.

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Externally the focus at work is more usually related to what needs to happen, how, when and by whom?  Internal, relational concerns usually only gain a lot of attention when things go wrong or when our internal attitudes and concerns are having an external effect.

If we are unaware of what is going on inside our self and others, these effects can be great and we find ourselves misunderstanding the behaviour and motives of our colleagues and being misunderstood. Life gets sticky and work becomes difficult.

Over the last few years it has been recognised that emotional intelligence is vital to successful organisations. Building emotional intelligence centres around understanding and accepting self and others, managing one’s own personality and achieving constructive, healthy relationships. This seems straightforward and yet is disregarded in favour of doing, end-gaining and simply getting through the content of each day. Putting effort into understanding self and others is often put aside and our emotional intelligence remains less than it could be, which is where the Enneagram comes in to inform us.

In addressing our own self-development we need a map to explore our inner territory that gives us a clear objective view about our behaviour and motivation. The Enneagram is such a map.  Not only does it give us true insight into our own particular and filtered view of the world but also helps us understand that of others.  Understanding others is a natural route into compassion and out of irritation, judgement and blame.

Aside from the Enneagram, there are many models and tools to enable individuals to maximise their strengths and skills.  However, there are few that address the core motivations in the way the Enneagram does.  The Enneagram very accurately describes the lens through which we are viewing the world, and how our personality type structure, which enabled us to manage our world, has also become one that limits us and causes us pain.

So what is The Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a nine (ennea) pointed geometric figure  (grammos) – that describes nine views or orientations of attention and consciousness. The personality structure for each type centres around some core ideas that grew out of our developmental struggles to make sense of our individual experience and that developed as ways to ensure safety, stability, a sense of place in the world and in relationship and to gain love.  The structure serves to give us a sense of internal consistency and appears to us to be a “correct” view of the world due to our testing it out and finding verifying evidence.

Here is a thought for us to ponder – if my view of the world is the correct one, how about the other eight? Are they misguided or might I be missing something? Might I find an expansion of gifts and abilities if I broaden my view and relax my specific focus of attention? My internal evidence has “proved” me right in the past because my criteria for assessment has been defined by the confines of the lens through which I gather my evidence i.e. I am conducting my own skewed experiment. Unfortunately this limited personality-driven view is also often causing me discomfort and suffering.

So how does understanding the Enneagram and our type structure help us?

We begin to understand our pattern with an objective enquiring mind. Coupled with this is an attitude of acceptance for ourselves as we are, because without self-acceptance we can meet internal resistance and our default pattern can become more entrenched.

We begin to understand others and how our communication and relationships are being affected by our lack of awareness of other views. We become less judgemental and more discerning of the true value of others.

We learn to relax and release parts of self that are constricted and rooted in rigid, out-worn patterns.

We experience natural unique gifts and abilities.

We drop many of the veils which occlude our view of self and of others, building natural and successful relationships

We broaden the range of our capacity and experience

The insights of the Enneagram above all provide us with an internal reference point for profound, positive change and wake us up to an experience of self and others freed from illusion, blame and old habits of thinking, feeling and acting.

Download the free guide for more information about the Enneagram and the nine types.

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