Subtype Spotlight: The Navigating Eight

Mario Sikora
Jan 20, 2013

I’ve started creating one-page descriptions of the 27 subtypes and plan to produce about one per week (the Navigating Eight is seen in the image to the right). I’ll be posting them on the ELI Facebook page, and PDFs are available by sending an email to me at If you email me, I’ll send you those that have been developed to date and put you on the distribution list for the others.

The description of the Navigating Eight is below:

Overview: N8s navigate the social domain by striving to be powerful. Like all Navigators, they are instinctively attuned to issues of hierarchy, identity, status, group mores, and interpersonal relationships. N8s approach these issues through a strategy of striving to be powerful, wanting to appear confident and competent, in control of their environment and circumstances. They are particular about what groups they associate with, carefully weighing the merits and demerits of each group before committing to it. Once they do commit to participation within a social group it is difficult for them to not assume a leadership role; they simply feel most comfortable when they are in charge. This makes them natural leaders, but not very good followers. When they sense weakness or incompetence in the leader they feel compelled to assert themselves and take charge.
When viewed from the perspective of Enneagram wing theory, N8s often seem to have both wings; they possess many of the easy-going interpersonal qualities often associated with the Nine, but in social environments in which they are comfortable they often take on the energetic, distractible qualities often associated with the Seven. 
At work: The biggest challenge N8s face at work is understanding that they can’t be the boss all of the time. Like other Eights, they tend to be impatient and impulsive when they are not getting their way. When they have become comfortable with their place in the hierarchy, N8s have a high degree of political and cultural astuteness. They understand how the group works and how to get things done within it. They are effective negotiators and power-brokers. They tend to make excellent mentors and confidants, knowing how to make others feel confident and empowered.  They tend to be better strategic thinkers than they are at the details of execution. They snap into action when they need to see tasks get done, but their preference is to guide and direct others rather than focus on details and tasks.
Leadership Style: N8s have strong leadership potential, mixing a desire to influence and shape their environment with strong attunement to the needs of the group. They have the characteristics of David McClelland’s “social power leaders”: high power drive (the desire to shape their environment) combined with high inhibition (restraint over their impulses and selfishness).
Working with N8s: As with other Eights, N8s will passionately assert their views and challenge yours. Rather than be intimidated by their energy, it is important to push back on them and stand up for yourself. You should do it respectfully, of course, and give the N8 time to see your point of view. They tend to be pragmatic, and if you make your case they will change their view. It is important to understand that N8s are not going to be very structured and they usually need strong administrative support. Utilize them for strategic thinking, especially when understanding organizational politics and group dynamics are important.     

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