Leadership is more than just a skill. It’s a complex set of qualities, behaviors, and aptitudes that varies depending on the context. There are situations where immediate action is called for, and the most effective leader is a decisive individual who takes the first step. In other times and places, the most suitable leader is a visionary strategist who charts a deliberate and powerful course.
Many roles in our lives call on us to be leaders, ranging from formalized management and executive positions at work to informal actions among family or peers. Whether we’re positioned at the forefront or acting in a vital support role, it’s helpful to take a careful look at our own leadership strengths and challenges as they affect our situation. The nine Enneagram types provide a valuable shorthand for recognizing these qualities in ourselves, as well as in those we work with, delegate to, and seek to develop as fellow leaders. In the following descriptions, see if you can recognize the strengths that come most naturally to you and those you can work to build in order to increase your leadership flexibility.
Type One: Motivated by principles, you hold a strong vision and inspire others to follow it. Leadership becomes a process of improving what you see and seeking to bring out the best in the aspects of life you care about. Challenge yourself to be flexible in your mission, acknowledging the positive and allowing for efforts that deviate from “the book.”
Type Two: Motivated by connection, you nurture others and build their skills. Whether creating networks, mentoring, delivering excellent customer service or offering support, people are vital to your values as a leader. Challenge yourself to expand your vision beyond others, making space for your needs and the broader, less immediately personal context.
Type Three: Motivated by value, you strive toward quality results, efficiency, and success. Teams and projects you lead have a polished touch, and you’re adaptable in the ways you pursue results. Challenge yourself to be attentive to others’ contributions and strengths, allowing them to step up and be effective even when it’s less “efficient.”
Type Four: Motivated by identity, your leadership efforts are an extension of your personal vision. You thrive when creating and designing projects, and are attentive to the emotional dynamics of your teams. Challenge yourself to hold your vision loosely, allowing for others to contribute and efforts to evolve beyond the possibilities you imagined.
Type Five: Motivated by mastery, you lead by accumulating specialized knowledge, strategizing, and investigating possibilities. You can see connections between ideas and use them to plan a far-reaching course of action. Challenge yourself to step beyond the role of strategist, observe interpersonal dynamics, and build relationships with your team.
Type Six: Motivated by security, you lead as an equal, working cooperatively with others for outcomes that create shared benefit. You value interdependence and advocate powerfully for the underdog. Challenge yourself to step forward in situations where you’re invested but unsure; you have likely already built a foundation of respect to lead from.
Type Seven: Motivated by possibilities, you excel at getting new things started. Your creativity generates ideas, while your enthusiasm brings others on board to get things done and fosters goodwill among the group. Challenge yourself to sustain ideas and projects when the going gets tough, both delegating and putting in legwork to see things through.
Type Eight: Motivated by impact, you bring lots of energy and action to make things happen. Your confidence makes decisions easy and supports others, especially when you work to empower them. Challenge yourself to recognize when you’re expending too much effort, and allow yourself to rest and others to support you in these times.
Type Nine: Motivated by harmony, you create an environment of cooperation where people feel comfortable around you. You lead without standing in the spotlight, including others so that they feel like they created the changes you spearheaded themselves. Challenge yourself to take charge and address conflict directly when it arises; you do this well.
As you’ve seen, you already possess leadership qualities inherent to your personality type. With some honing and balancing, you can develop them in ways that will have a powerful impact on the world.