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The Enneagram Advantage: Using the 9 Personality Types at Work

The Enneagram Advantage: Using the 9 Personality Types at Work

by Helen Palmer, Paul Brown

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Adapting a centuries-old psychological system of personality profiling, The Enneagram Advantage gives invaluable insight into your own business persona as well as those of your colleagues, bosses, clients, and corporate cultures. Best-selling author Helen Palmer has written the ultimate guide to using this remarkable system at the office and in business


Adapting a centuries-old psychological system of personality profiling, The Enneagram Advantage gives invaluable insight into your own business persona as well as those of your colleagues, bosses, clients, and corporate cultures. Best-selling author Helen Palmer has written the ultimate guide to using this remarkable system at the office and in business relationships.

The Enneagram is a powerful tool that is reshaping the face of business in the 1990s. With straightforward techniques that are easy to understand and simple to apply, The Enneagram Advantage helps you break free of rigid perceptions about yourself, your business environment, and the way you think and act in the office. Palmer teaches you how to identify yourself as one of the nine personalities—the Perfectionist, the Giver, the Performer, the Romantic, the Observer, the Loyal Skeptic, the Epicure, the Boss, or the Mediator. She then pinpoints the strengths and weaknesses of the types: how they interact with others; how they think and perform in their jobs; what motivates them; and how they communicate. The Enneagram Advantage provides a powerful and proven method for self-discovery and gives you the tools you need to improve and enhance all of your professional associations and activities.

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Crown Publishing Group
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5.21(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.73(d)

Read an Excerpt

What Type Am I?

In the Enneagram system, no type is better than another, and each represents an effective life strategy, but they all differ radically in their point of view. While we will spend the rest of the book exploring these nine personalities in detail—concentrating on how they appear and interact at work—let's quickly sketch them here.

One: The Perfectionist

The world seems perpetually out of order. Something has to be done, and done with step-by-step precision. Reports, for example, should be comprehensive but just the right length. The feedback you give should be concise, without wasting precious time and effort.
You live with a severe inner critic who monitors every thought, word, and deed. The critic tells you that there's always room for improvement, and your self-imposed standards keep rising.

You may not even know that you're angry until you hear the polite, clenched, and rising tone of your own voice saying, "Nothing is wrong and I never get angry."

Maximizing Your Opportunities: Jobs that emphasize organizational structure and require meticulous attention to detail are attractive because quality control is embedded in your thinking. There's pleasure in good work and a job well done, so you drive yourself harder than most. Attention is drawn to improving procedures, correcting errors, and producing those small daily victories that occur when everything falls into place "just right."

Minimizing Risks: You're not attracted to jobs where decision making is based on fluid or partial information. The inner critic goes wild without guidelines, so you want to stop and check.On-the-spot decisions increase the risk of error and personal accountability. You may freeze in the crosscurrents of multiple points of view or differences of opinion.

Your Bottom Line: "Perfection requires heroic efforts. I'm not there yet."

Two: The Giver

Your focus is on giving care and receiving close, personal feedback, so you find identity largely through relationships. A power behind the throne who manages by persuasion or manipulation, you generate approval by being pleasing and indispensable.
Several different "selves" develop, each adapted to meet the needs of others. You have a self for the boss, a self for the team, and other selves for family life. Your challenge is to recognize the difference between "giving to get" and altruistic support.
Maximizing Your Opportunities: Positioning is important. Your best selves emerge through association with front-runners who are counting on you. You work with a boss, not for the boss, because you're managing the boss's life. Attractive people in need of help are two bait.

Minimizing Risks: Environments that give little positive feedback are difficult for you. It's hard to keep going if you don't get some show of gratitude for having met other people's needs.

Your Bottom Line: "They couldn't make it without me."

Three: The Performer

The world loves a winner, so you project a successful image, becoming the role model of your profession. You know you can make anything work if you throw enough energy at it.

Emotional life gets sacrificed along the way, but you decide, "Don't think about it—just do it." You're in control as long as you're fast forward, but inactivity is terrifying. Performers depend on immediate results and positive feedback, and it's horrifying to think, "What if this doesn't work?"

Maximizing Your Opportunities: You want a status job where there's plenty of room for advancement and where you can excel. Work should reward long hours and star performance. People who don't want footprints on their back get out of your way.

Minimizing Risks: Jobs with a ceiling are unattractive. You like quick turnover and fast results, so creative projects requiring introspection and long periods of trial and error are grueling.

Your Bottom Line: "You're only as good as your last victory. No cookies for losers."

Four: The Romantic

You may have two jobs, the one that pays the bills and your real job as an artist. You want work to create an avenue for meaningful expression, and you won't sell out for superficial prosperity.

Attention constantly shifts to the best of what's missing. What's far away and hard to get looks tantalizing, and in comparison, there's not much on your own side of the fence.

Your efficiency may be tied to mood. It's difficult to stay interested when you're feeling melancholy. Projects can languish during crises or when you're involved in a love affair.

Maximizing Your Opportunities: You prefer a creative job that calls for a unique, even eccentric approach. You're drawn to emotionally charged occupations, running the gamut from working the trading desk at a wire house to handling the night shift on a suicide hot line. You keep asking yourself, "Why shouldn't professional life reflect authentic human values?"

Minimizing Risks: Mundane jobs in ordinary settings are crushing. Similarly, you need to avoid bureaucratic positions requiring anonymity and emotional detachment. Equally deadly are jobs where you have to work in cooperation with others who are more skilled, more valued, or better paid. You feel demeaned by plebeian work, the definition of which is known only to yourself. Gardening can be plebe work. So can being a CEO.

Your Bottom Line: "Something's missing. I wish I had it."

Five: The Observer

From your detached point of view, a great many activities seem pointless. Why do people run around wasting energy on trivial pursuits when it's so delightful to retire and think? Since privacy is paramount, you treasure withdrawing to a protected place, safe from unwanted intrusion.

Doing with less simplifies everything. You have fewer needs to deal with, fewer obligations and office interactions. Doing with less also liberates more time and precious energy for study and thought.

Maximizing Your Opportunities: Your ability to detach and analyze brings order out of chaos. Emotional detachment also makes it possible for you to work alone for long periods of time in single-minded pursuit of answers. You're attracted to the kind of jobs that protect your time and energy. When possible, you prefer limited windows of contact—and tend to reinforce your guard with a barricade of secretaries, E-mail, and fax machines.

Minimizing Risks: Any job that requires open competition or direct confrontation is anathema. It's risky to put yourself on the line when you have limited resources of energy. Open-ended meetings, spontaneous decisions, off-the-cuff brainstorming, and emotional interactions are draining.

Your Bottom Line: "Mind over matter."

Six: The Loyal Skeptic

You act with strength under adversity but are prone to doubt when it's an easy win. Doubt, coupled with imagining the worst-case scenario, prompts you to ask, "What if this situation turns dangerous?" and "Yes, but shouldn't we think this through again?" Ironically, anxiety peaks with visible success because notoriety attracts competition. However, you go full out for an underdog cause or in a turnaround situation, particularly in collaboration with allies.

Maximizing Your Opportunities: It's easy to work in hierarchical environments with clear lines of authority. You know what to expect and exactly what you're up against. Self-employed positions are also attractive, because you are your own authority. Your determination to deal with hard questions makes you a natural troubleshooter and a highly valued analyst.

Minimizing Risks: High-pressure jobs requiring spot decisions can lead to analysis paralysis. Under pressure, thinking replaces doing, sometimes producing procrastination. High-profile competitive jobs with ambiguous guidelines feel like a setup for failure.

Your Bottom Line: "Question authority."

Seven: The Epicure

You see a world filled with opportunities and options, there's always new data to absorb and fascinating plans to make. Buoyed by a sense of your own worth, you feel entitled to success, and that enthusiasm rubs off on others. Where most people see limitations, you see positive new ideas.

Life's OK when you can see the possibilities. You're a brainstormer and networker who sidesteps conflict. This wizardry is both brilliant and distracting. It can produce original ideas, but also lets you slip away from sticky commitments.

Maximizing Your Opportunities: When initial stages of a plan require multi-option thinking and a positive future vision, that's where you shine. You'll be attracted to new beginnings, and to the parts of a project that require synthesizing crosscurrents of new information.

Minimizing Risks: When implementing a plan requires routine work that does not support a spirit of adventure, you are less than interested. Critical supervision or closed-end jobs cause you to reframe the rules and network yourself into a better position.

Your Bottom Line: "You're OK. I'm OK. Isn't everyone?"

Eight: The Boss

The focus is on control. "Who has the power, and will they be fair?" You take charge and fend off the competition, rather than risk being controlled yourself.

Anger is the emotion of choice, and trust in others is built through confrontation. You know that people blurt their true thoughts when they're angry and during a confrontation you are trying to discover if people are manipulative, whether they fight fair, if they're honest, and whether they wimp out.

Speaking your mind clears the air, and tests coworkers to make sure it's safe to surrender control. Justice for all is a major theme, and you're highly protective of "our side," "my people," and "our team."

Maximizing Your Opportunities: You're known for your aggressive, take-charge leadership, but you can also empower others. Leadership positions are a natural, because you combine tough-minded, tender-hearted support with just the right amount of force to move a massive project forward.

Minimizing Risks: You're not great in jobs that depend on diplomacy and following orders, and you are especially sensitive to power plays and covert manipulation. You want clear lines of redress for grievances, rather than depending on the goodwill of superiors.

Your bottom Line: "My way or the highway."

Nine: The Mediator

You want consensus and a peaceful workplace, so you weigh the pros and cons.  You see all the good points and all the bad points of a decision, which keeps you on the fence. You can identify with everyone else's position, and that may derail your own agenda, making you wonder, "Do I want this, or was it someone else's idea?"

Once involved, it's hard to say no, so you may stick around longer than you really want to. Rather than get angry, you'll dig in your heels and get stubborn.

Deadlines are a call to action, and you're highly productive when you get rolling. The trick is to hold your own position, when it's all too easy to focus on what other people want.

Maximizing Your Opportunities: Seeing all sides of a question makes you a natural mediator. People around you feel accepted, because you can see the world from their perspective.

Minimizing Risks: High-image jobs requiring continuous self-promotion are risky. So are settings that call for rapid turnover in procedures. Shifting priorities distract your attention, and conflict tears you apart.

Your Bottom Line: "Keep the peace. Don't make waves."

If your initial reaction after reading the nine snapshots is to say: "I'm not sure yet which one I am," you are not alone.  After all the Enneagram's nine-pointed star is enclosed in a circle, which is meant to show that we have access to every viewpoint. Still, each of us has a primary type.  The Enneagram Type Quiz [in the next section of The Enneagram Advantage

Meet the Author

Helen Palmer is the author of the best-selling The Enneagram, The Enneagram in Love and Work, and The Pocket Enneagram. She codirects the Center for Enneagram Studies and Teaching in Berkeley, California, and regularly conducts workshops and lectures around the world.

Paul B. Brown, a former writer and editor for Business Week, Financial World, Forbes, and Inc., has written eight books, including the best-selling Grow Rich Slowly. He lives with his son and daughter in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

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