Emotional Intelligence and the Enneagram: How One Benefits From The Ot – Wholeness at Work

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Emotional Intelligence and the Enneagram: How One Benefits From The Other

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Emotional Intelligence and the Enneagram: How One Benefits From The Other

Emotional Intelligence and the Enneagram: How One Benefits From The Other

By now, you’ve probably heard someone claim that emotional intelligence is one of the most important skills to cultivate when it comes to leadership—and we totally agree. But what’s not often talked about is how to cultivate and grow your emotional intelligence. How can emotional intelligence skills be honed?

That’s where the Enneagram personality system comes in. If you aren’t yet familiar with the Enneagram, we highly recommend looking into it. We love the Enneagram system because it is an organized and deep way to look inward at your traits and patterns. It helps you learn to objectively explore the deepest parts of yourself and figure out what actions can best help you achieve your goals and aspirations. 

The Enneagram is also a great tool to use for teams–we use it anytime we work with groups. Because the Enneagram highlights an individual's strengths and motivations, teams who use the Enneagram are better equipped to cultivate empathy, understanding, and community within their corporate culture. 


What Exactly is Emotional Intelligence?

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.” -Daniel Goleman

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to comprehend and manage emotions—both your own and that of those around you. Emotional intelligence in leadership is important because it enables you to take emotional stock of yourself and your peers so that your methods of communication are well informed. This awareness is key because it sets the tone of a workplace or team. 

You can have all of the technical skills in the world, but if you aren’t able to effectively communicate or collaborate, you will lose the respect and motivation of your team.

[Read that again.]

Author and psychologist Daniel Goleman, who wrote the New York Times bestseller Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, deconstructs emotional intelligence into five key elements: Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Goleman argues that working on each of these five skills will increase your level of emotional intelligence. Easy enough, right? But finding concrete methods to improve these skills can seem a bit nebulous. That’s why we love the Enneagram system. 

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence with the Enneagram

Like we mentioned earlier, we love the Enneagram as a tool because of its profound ability to help you look inward or, like Goleman’s quote says, take “notice”. If you don’t already know your Enneagram personality type, we suggest taking this test. We also recommend coaching from someone trained in the Enneagram and self-inquiry to accurately confirm your type, as no online assessment is likely to be completely accurate at assessing your personality.

Once you begin to understand your personality type, you can take stock of your emotional intelligence elements through the lens of the Enneagram. We break this down more specifically below. 

1 | Self-awareness

Self-awareness is not only about knowing how you feel, but also understanding how your emotions are affecting those around you. Seems simple enough, right? But a 2018 study by psychologist Tasha Eurich showed that 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10% to 15% actually are. With that lack of self-awareness, having a structured and objective aid to help you question and analyze your emotional patterns is crucial.

2 | Self-regulation

Once you’re able to practice self-awareness and take notice of your emotions, then self-regulation comes into play. As a leader, the ability to remain positive under stress is a huge asset. And while we can’t always control our emotions, we are able to control how we react externally. Self-regulation is all about managing your emotions so that they don’t negatively affect those around you. The Enneagram can help you understand your type’s common patterns and what it looks like to turn your natural reaction into an intentional response. 

3 | Motivation

Motivation is the driving force behind what makes you take action in your life. Oftentimes, we need to do things that we don’t want to do in order to achieve success. Motivation sometimes comes easy, like doing a day’s work in order to get a paycheck. But it isn’t always that simple. The Enneagram is a great way to start understanding your deepest human desires. This will help you find positives in trying situations that are specific to your core needs and goals. 

4 | Empathy

Empathy is one of the most crucial skills to have as a leader because it allows you to step into another’s shoes and relate to them on a deep level. When a leader is empathetic, it builds a respectful, loyal basis for their team. Learning about the various Ennea-types can help you better understand your teammates so you can empathize with them more deeply. 

5 | Social skills

The value of treating everyone with kindness and a friendly spirit feels like a given. But Goleman goes even further to describe social skills as “friendliness with a purpose”. Similar to exploring your own motivations through the Enneagram, you can use the system to assess the driving forces behind your teammates. Everyone is different, so understanding and empathizing with various personality types is step one. Personalizing the way you treat others is step two.


Building and working on your emotional intelligence is a process. If you’re looking to commit to this work, we are here to help either personally or through our wellbeing products. Our Enneagram X Burnout Card Deck or Welcome To Wholeness at Work are great places to start. Connect with us to learn more about our products and services.

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