At first glance, the Enneagram looks more like confusing Grade-12 geometry than a tool for achieving greater self-knowledge. In essence, though, the Enneagram (‘ennea’ is Greek for ‘nine’ and ‘gram’ refers to something that is written or drawn) is a dynamic, self-development model and coaching tool that can offer deep insight into our personalities and how we engage with the world, by helping us understand our subconscious drivers.
A framework for nine different personality archetypes (known as ‘enneatypes’) and the worldviews and motivations that correspond with each of them, the Enneagram is used by business coaches and counsellors as a means of empowering people to take responsibility for their behaviours and development by equipping them with a greater understanding of why they act and react in certain ways.
As such, the Enneagram can help to foster tolerance not only towards others, but also towards ourselves, and has been proven significantly useful in conflict resolution, enhancing team dynamics and building constructive relationships.
The nine points of the Enneagram
The power of the Enneagram stems largely from the power of archetypes, something that famous psychologist Carl Jung explored at length. According to his theory, archetypes are images and motifs that keep recurring in stories, myths, art and religion throughout human history and across all cultures, implying the existence of universal truths being expressed through the collective unconscious of humanity.
So, which of the nine Enneatypes best describe your personality archetype? Each type comes with a set of values and aspirations, and though each has their virtues, each has also their vices.
1. The Reformer
The idealist, who strives for perfection. They fear corruption, and value integrity, but are prone to anger and resentment.
2. The Helper
The generous soul, who constantly seeks to help others, but risks denying their own needs in the process. Givers seek love, and fear being without it.
3. The Achiever
Success-oriented individuals, who are determined to make themselves valuable, and fear being perceived as worthless.
4. The Romantic
Romantics seek above all else to differentiate themselves, to be unique. They tend to be sensitive and self-absorbed, but highly expressive.
5. The Investigator
Highly cerebral types, who favour concepts over direct experience.
6. The Loyalist
They seek guidance, and fear being without it. Faith is important to them, but they are prone to doubt and indecision.
7. The Enthusiast
Fun-loving types who are open to experiences, but risk being trapped in a permanent quest for fulfilment.
8. The Challenger
Dominating personalities that are self-confident and decisive, but also confrontational.
9. The Peacemaker
Easygoing and agreeable, peacemakers are excellent mediators, but are sometimes too eager to avoid conflict.
The Enneagram test
Professional coaches find the Enneagram to be a valuable tool in helping their clients advance their self-development. Through a series of questions, known as an Enneagram test, the coach can determine the personality archetype that best describes their client, who can, in turn, use that as a guideline for exploring their personal motivations, aspirations, strengths and weaknesses. According to Karolyne Williams, a coach and accredited Integrative Enneagram practitioner, ‘Knowing the enneatype you resonate with is just the beginning of your journey. Through its lines, wings, centre of intelligence, instincts and levels of integration, the Enneagram creates powerful developmental pathways to open up to others.’
The Enneagram test can be harnessed by life coaches and business coaches alike. On an individual level, it encourages self-awareness, while on an organisational level, it contributes to an efficient work environment through the merging of individual enneatypes into a cohesive whole.
Interested in learning more about coaching techniques, and the tools used by coaches to help individuals and organisations achieve success? Perhaps your particular Enneatype makes you well suited to a career in coaching. SACAP offers a selection of coaching courses, including the Coach Practitioner Programme – a short learning programme designed for working professionals, and the Postgraduate Diploma in Coaching Learnership – a comprehensive course that includes a strong practical component, culminating in a supervised workplace Client Coaching Internship. For more information, enquire now.