The Awareness to Action Enneagram
Dimension 1 - The Three Instinctual Biases
They are focused on “nesting and nurturing” and on ensuring that fundamental survival needs are met for things like food, water, clothing, shelter, and overall safety from harm.
- Good at preserving the “nest”: ensuring their own security and the security of co-workers and subordinates they are responsible for.
- Good at playing Devil’s advocate and challenging ideas that may not be fully thought-through. However, can be risk-averse, resistant to change and new ways of doing things.
- Good at ensuring that administrative issues are in order and that procedures are being implemented and followed.
- Comfortable in organizations that need stability and order; they may struggle in a fast changing environment.
- May be too introverted: focus on tasks rather than interpersonal issues.
- May lack charisma; can seem detached rather than inspirational.
They are focused on “orienting to the group” and on building alliances, creating trust and reciprocity, and understanding how oneself and others fit into the group.
- Naturally drawn to issues related to group dynamics and interpersonal communication.
- Track group cohesion and status changes.
- Attuned to organizational politics, intuitively knowing which levers to pull in order to move projects around obstacles.
- Ability to instinctively read the pulse of the group, build the consensus, and know who needs to be pushed, who need to be nurtured, and who the influencers are.
- Good at the “forming” stage of team dynamics, where the group is finding its identity and ways of working together.
- Good at big picture and strategic thinking.
- Can be too focused on the political dynamics of the group, spending more time on the politics than on the organization’s ultimate business goal.
- May have poor administrative capabilities.
- Less comfortable in difficult individual interaction and personnel decisions (e.g. addressing underperformance, firing, reprimanding).
They are focused on “attracting and bonding” and on passing genes, beliefs, values, interests, and worldview to others in order to make them carriers of that information.
- Often charismatic and bold.
- Good at articulating a goal or vision and moving others toward it, seducing some and driving others as necessary.
- Intuitively understand the mind of the market and the customer; persuasive seller of the products, company or dream.
- Good at building relationships with customers, channel partners and strategic allies.
- Highly competitive (alpha male or female of the group).
- Good at the start-up phase of a business, when the workforce needs an inspiring vision to rally around.
- May place too much focus on themselves, their accomplishments and their desirable qualities. May neglect career development of subordinates.
- Self-focus may seem to put own interests before company/employees.
Dimension 2 - The Nine Strategies
Ennea-type One - Striving to feel Perfect
They are often models of decorum, clear logic and appropriate behavior. They focus on rules, procedures and making sure that they are always doing the “right thing.” When they overdo their Striving to be Perfect they can become critical, judgmental and unwilling to take risks. Under stress, Ones may fear that if they have too much fun they will become irresponsible.
Ennea-type Two - Striving to feel Connected
They are often selfless, caring and nurturing. They focus on helping others meet their needs; they build rapport easily and enjoy finding a common bond with others. When they overdo their Striving to be Connected they may fail to take care of their own needs and end up becoming emotionally dependent on others. Under stress, Twos may fear that if they are not closely connected to others they will become isolated.
Ennea-type Three - Striving to feel Outstanding
They work hard to exceed standards and to be successful in whatever they undertake. They place high value on productivity and presenting an image of being a winner in whatever environment they are in. When they overdo their Striving to be Outstanding they may become attention seeking and may value image over substance. When stressed, Threes may fear that if they are not making great efforts to be excellent they will become mediocre.
Ennea-type Four - Striving to feel Unique
They generally approach their lives creatively, in fresh and interesting ways. They gravitate toward things and experiences that are elegant, refined, or unusual. When they overdo their Striving to be Unique they may feel misunderstood, and they may withdraw from others and become isolated. When stressed, Fours may fear that if they do not put their own special touch on their world and their experiences their individuality will become repressed.
Ennea-type Five - Striving to feel Detached
They are observant, logical and generally reserved. They focus on problem solving, innovative ideas, and data gathering. When they overdo their Striving to be Detached they can end up being dull—out of touch with their experiences and emotions. When stressed, Fives may fear that if they do not remain detached and guarded they will become uncontrolled.
Ennea-type Six - Striving to feel Secure
They find security in being part of something bigger than themselves, such as a group or tradition. They are careful, responsible and protective of the welfare of the group. They focus on maintaining consistency, tradition and cohesion. When they overdo their Striving to be Secure they may fail to take the risks necessary for high performance and settle for mediocrity. When stressed, Sixes may fear that if they relax their guard they will be vulnerable to possible dangers.
Ennea-type Seven - Striving to feel Excited
They are upbeat, enthusiastic, optimistic, and curious. They focus on possibilities and options and keeping others entertained. When they overdo their Striving to be Excited they may fail to follow-through, become easily distracted, and act irresponsibly. When stressed, Sevens may fear that if they do not fill their heads with many thoughts they will miss out on something.
Ennea-type Eight - Striving to feel Powerful
They are action-oriented self-starters who love to be in charge. They focus on getting things done and overcoming obstacles that may lie in their way. When they overdo their Striving to be Powerful they may not adhere to the rules or norms that others expect them to follow and their behavior can become uncontrolled. When stressed, Eights may fear that if they become too connected to others or experience their own emotions too deeply they will become dependent on others.
Ennea-type Nine - Striving to feel Peaceful
They are calm, pleasant, and charming. They focus on maintaining a sense of inner harmony by minimizing their own needs and concentrating on the needs of others. When they overdo their Striving to be Peaceful they can become passive, relying on others to make decisions for them. When stressed, Nines may fear that if they place too much importance on themselves they will be seen as attention seeking.
When we combine the instinctual biases with the preferred strategies we get three distinct versions of each Ennea-type. For example, an Ennea-type Three has a preferred strategy of “striving to feel outstanding,” but a “Preserving Three” will non-consciously emphasize feeling outstanding in the preserving domain while a “Navigating Three” will emphasize feeling outstanding in the navigating domain.
It might seem simple, but understanding both dimensions provides profound insights into our own fundamental motivations and tendencies and those of the people we work with.
Because of its combination of simplicity and depth, the Enneagram is at the heart of many of our programs at Awareness to Action International.