Nine Leadership Strategies

Mario Sikora
Mar 11, 2013

Our personality doesn’t determine whether we will be effective leaders or not but it will very often shape the way we lead, especially when we are under stress. The Enneagram identifies nine adaptive or problem-solving strategies that lie at the heart of our personality style. These strategies are rooted in an affective, or emotional, need to feel a certain way, which then shapes how we think and act.

Our personality style takes its shape because of our over-reliance on one particular strategy. There is nothing inherently wrong with this but it can lead to inflexibility and non-adaptability, which can be fatal for a leader.

While it is probably impossible to change our personality style, all leaders would benefit from becoming more flexible and learning from the strengths of the other strategies while trying to avoid their potential pitfalls. It can be helpful to do a self-audit, or get some feedback from co-workers, and find out which strategies you use effectively and which you don’t. So while it is unlikely that if you are, say, an Ennea-type One you will ever become a Two, you can learn to use the Two’s preferred strategy of striving to be connected to enhance your effectiveness.   

The chart below gives a brief description of what happens when we use the adaptive, effective version of the strategy (the “high side”) and what happens when we use maladaptive, ineffective version of the strategy (the “low side”).

Strategic Fixes vs. Tactical Fixes: Some changes are easy to make because they are responses to problems caused by ignorance or lack of skill. There are certain tactical fixes that each type can adopt, and there are times when simply trying to use one of the other strategies more is enough to bring about change. However, we often non-consciously resist change and inadvertently undermine our attempts to change. When this happens, it is usually because our definition of our preferred strategy precludes our ability to adopt a new behavior. For example, a Nine may try to address conflict more proactively but be undermined by her non-conscious fixation on striving to be peaceful. In such cases, a “strategic fix” is called for, which involves using the Awareness to Action process to rewrite the strategy and resolve the inner conflicting commitments that undermine change.   

The High and Low Sides of the Nine Leadership Strategies
(For a pdf of this chart, send an email to me at

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