About the Awareness to Action Approach

How do you use the Enneagram in your everyday work as a coach? How do you use the Enneagram with teams? Which is the advantage of using the Enneagram? 

How do you use the Enneagram in your everyday work as a coach?

For the executive coaching engagements, we do a type assessment as part of the first meeting with the client. Unlike a psychotherapeutic engagement, a coaching engagement typically has a relatively short life-span: typically 12 to 15 hours over six to nine months. The Enneagram helps to quickly identify critical issues that the coach should look at. It also provides a framework for the client to see themselves in a non-judgmental way, a tool for putting behavior into context that also helps them see a way out of the traps they may feel caught in. For example, a client who is an Eight now understands why people see them as aggressive or overwhelming; they see that they are not necessarily flawed but that they merely doing what Eights do when they act habitually; and they see that they don’t need to defend their behavior but can work to change it by following the path that we lay out using the Enneagram as a guide.

How do you use the Enneagram with teams?

It can be very beneficial for a team to develop an understanding of the personality styles represented on the team, and how those styles may affect interaction among team members. It can help to depersonalize behaviors or limit judgments of others (for example, I can see a co-worker’s distractibility as a symptom of her being a Seven and then calibrate my expectations of her with the same understanding that it is an area she struggles with as much as I struggle with the behaviors related to my being my personality type). It can help me see how my behaviors adversely affect the team and motivate me to modify those behaviors. An understanding of the Enneagram can help with all of those issues.

Which is the advantage of using the Enneagram?

There are two major advantages to using the Enneagram in corporate work: It works quickly and, taught correctly, it is easy too learn and remember. While Enneagram theory contains a remarkably robust body of knowledge, our emphasis on the strategies allows for an easy-to-remember-and-apply model. If I can remember, for example, that I sometimes get into trouble because I tend to overdo my strategy of striving to be powerful, I can see the tendencies in many circumstances and thus have a better chance of modifying the behaviors related to it. I’ll catch myself in the act of losing my temper or being too direct or insensitive and I have a better chance of changing before I do too much damage.

Further, if I can remember that Mary is striving to be Perfect (a Type One) and that John is striving to be Outstanding (a Type Three) I can infer a lot from those simple statements and modify the way I engage with them accordingly. It is much simpler than, say, the Myers-Briggs model where I have to remember 16 variations of four-letter strings and then what each of those strings translates to. This is not to say that the Myers-Briggs model is not a very powerful tool, but it requires a level of memorization that most corporate clients are unable or unwilling to commit to.

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