The Enneagram is a fascinating tool of nine orientations that enables us to gain insight into the depths of our true potential. It seeks to provide insight into how we fund our foundation of assumptions so they work for us or they don't! (In some ways it provides a generic Owner's Manual to Life! That little book we all hoped came with us to provide insightful directions on how to employ us and treat us with care.)
Leadership development requires fluency at this level. Margaret Jackson, the Chairperson of the QANTAS board of directors put it this way, "Know your self, appreciate others, be bold and be brave." This tool enables you to do the first two at a depth rarely available in psychological profiling. From this foundation, with the wisdom of appreciation, the other two become natural behavior.
The Enneagram has been based in oral tradition until recently and so its origins are obscure. Some claim there is evidence its use in Babylonian times, others are currently in the courts squabbling over their rights to its use.
Some use it as a personality tool I prefer it as a road map, a generic blue print for your 'model' of assumptions that can be used to direct intentional and purposeful growth. It enables the discarding of assumptions that are past their use-by-date, maybe formulated in childhood, and the growth of wiser concepts.
The Enneagram orientation of an individual is determined in part objectively, through being aware of their assumptions, and partly subjectively, by finding the motive for their actions.
As such it fits perfectly into the newest assumptions of quantum physics that by measuring an event we influence it (there is a subjective component to every observation). Our language has lagged behind these forward concepts and we still prefer objectivity presuming it is more truthful. However, the information provided by the interview and the practicality of working with others has always been the definitive test for compatibility rather than the pre-selection psychological tools.
Questionnaires to determine our Enneagram orientation, which are readily available on the web, are not very accurate. Not because of the skill of the questionnaire compiler but due to the inability of ourselves to appreciate our unconscious motive objectively and compare it to others. How many thoughts have you ever had about this area of your life?
In working with the Enneagram for 15 years I have yet to fault it, despite rigorous testing. A skilled practitioner can provide information to identify an individual's orientation or, alternatively those who know us well.
The most telling insights into our orientation are those based in the person's conflict behavior. Because we assume our conflict is well clothed we do it with abandon - to others we are the Emperor with no clothes and they often perceive our actions with great clarity. Consult a skilled practitioner or ask loved ones, colleagues or friends to help you identify your orientation.
Much of the literature informs us that we can create ourselves to be leaders, we do not need to born so. However, there is little in the literature to direct us to the fertile ground for us to develop our leadership skills and abilities.
The Enneagram shows us our pot holes (limitations) and our mountains (talents). Our job as leaders is to develop conscious competence with both! The Enneagram shows us where these are so we can begin the work of our lives.
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Rosemary Johnston is a professional corporate and personal coach. Working with executives from some of Australia's largest and most successful companies for over 15 years.
Rosemary's new book, "How To Develop Your Leadership Style and Skills to Take Charge of Your Career and Life" is now available to download at her web site. Read about how you can share some of the success Rosemary has had coaching leaders in Australian blue chip companies. http://www.leadershipfirst.com.au