Posted on 16 January 2017 by Neil Bierbaum
The dominant and direct Enneagram Style 8 leader can learn patience and tolerance from the apparently more emotional Enneagram Style 4 team member.
We’ve all had them. Those bosses who personify the word “boss”. They storm in and take over and tell everyone, not only what is going to happen but exactly how it will happen too. What you will do, and you, and you, and you, and how and by when. Everybody cowers and says yes. Then it doesn’t get done, and they say, but we agreed. And somebody brave enough says, no, we didn’t agree, you agreed, with yourself, and didn’t bother to ask whether we could do it or not. And so it goes on.
This style of leader would typically show up as an Enneagram Style 8 (“Dominant and Direct”) leader on the enneagram. They see the world at a very practical level and are good at landing projects and getting things done. In the Industrial Age they were exactly the kind of leader you wanted, as they could beat everybody into submission and get the job done on time, paying no attention to how people felt. They have tended to be somewhat of a model for corporate leadership, but less and less so. More and more, we are called in to coach this style of leader as they are being asked to take care of the “how” of getting things done. This means they are being asked to finish projects with people still standing, still involved, still inspired to work with them again.
The enneagram style that quite possibly clashes the most with the Style 8 is the Style 4, which is the emotionally sensitive and possibly quite creative team member.
On the surface these two appear as diametrically opposite and, in terms of how they achieve things, they are. However, they share a few key characteristics. The one is a certain larger-than-life quality. The other is that neither one likes to have control taken away from them.
The Enneagram Style 8 leader is easy to read because they tend to wear their heart on their sleeve, while the Style 4 team member’s heart is more likely a well of mystery.
The larger-than-life quality of the Enneagram Style 8 is probably expressed as willpower, while that of the Style 4 is more likely to come out as emotional and creative expression. In terms of control, the Style 8 likes to control every practical detail of a project, including the creative elements; the Style 4 wants creative control.
Here are some pointers for an Enneagram Style 8 leader to remember when leading a team with style Four members. Remember that the Style 8’s biggest difficulty is to stand back and let anything happen that they are not in charge of. They also don’t wish to appear weak or soft in any way. They need to recognize that the Style 4 members tend to seek recognition for their ideas and creative contribution, and offering that would not be weakness on your part. In fact, deliberately giving up control in some instances in order for their ideas to come to the fore would be a good way to keep them motivated.
The Enneagram Style 8 needs to be aware they they may have the harder job to understand where the Style 4’s are coming from, as the Style 8’s probably wear their heart on their sleeve, while the Style 4’s is more likely a well of mystery. They should note, however, that the Style 4’s are probably as proud of their mystery – and have as much to offer because of it – as the Style 8 may be of his or her simplicity.
The Enneagram Style 8 leaders should also remember that the Style 4 members can access their inner world for information the way the Style 8 can most likely access the outer. Hence they may find it challenging to give you examples of their thinking when they express the mood of the team, for example, or things they “can’t quite put their finger on”. This doesn’t mean they are wrong or irrelevant.
The biggest challenge for the Style 8 leader may have managing Style 4’s is to stand back and allow the creativity to happen, even though it doesn’t turn out to be the way they would have done It.