Another Self-Discovery Tool: The Enneagram


Knowing and understanding more about yourself and why you think or behave the way you do in certain situations can open the door to some powerful conversations with your coach. Personality assessments such as the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI,) DiSC and StrengthsFinder 2.0 have been used by businesses to help employees and teams perform more effectively for years. These assessments are useful for individual coaching clients too but often they don’t really “speak” to people. You can tell someone they’re an ENFJ or a relator-includer but the information doesn’t stick because there isn’t a strong frame of reference.

I recently went to a conference where I learned about the Enneagram. Using an assessment where you decide how strongly a statement relates to you, you’re placed into one of 9 different personality types. These archetypes or enneatypes give insight into how you act when you are at your best and worst. The system offers the addition of numerous subtleties as you add the concept of “wings” (the potential to cross types) and what happens to a type under stress or growth. The more I’ve looked into the system, the more fascinated I’ve become. I took a number of different assessments and I was consistently rated as a type 2: The Helper (also called The Giver or The Lover.) I found a study that cross references enneatypes with MBTI scores and I found that mine match.

Enneagram types are much easier for individuals to remember and offer imagery to which they can relate. They help them understand their actions under conditions of stress or when they’re at ease. From a coach’s standpoint, this gives another reflective point that can be offered to a client when they feel they’re not living to their full, genuine potential.

While the archetype figures may appear too spiritual for the corporate world, some companies such as Adobe, e-Bay and General Mills have used Enneagram types to help people understand each other and work together better in teams. Once I’ve studied them more, I might consider introducing these types to supplement more traditional team building tools like the MBTI.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to take a free sample Enneagram assessment. It’s not the full assessment so the type will only be an approximation at best. Let me know how well you think it matches you.

Photo credit: Grace Commons (Wicker Park Grace) / / CC BY-NC-SA

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  1. Intriguing reading. Fine points, well-made. I reckon you are just right.

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