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What is the Enneagram?

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Erin Rocchio sits at a desk looking at an open folder. In front of her is a large plant in front of a window.

What is the Enneagram?

If you’re looking at this website right now, we will hazard a guess that you understand—or are learning to understand—how important it is to continuously seek out the tools we need to improve ourselves and our careers. 

This instinct to develop and grow is one that can drive your career trajectory to higher orbits than you had ever believed possible. However, getting to know yourself and developing tools you can utilize for growth can feel as overwhelming as walking into Target without a shopping list. 

There is an endless pool of resources for schools of thought in the personal and professional development sphere. For now, we’re going to discuss the dynamic, extensive, and supportive world of the Enneagram. 


What Exactly Is the Enneagram? 

The Enneagram is a system of identifying distinct personality types. Understanding your personality type and those of others can help you learn more about yourself and what you can do to communicate better with others, leverage your strengths, uncover deeper fears, and fill the gaps that hold the keys to your success. 

Knowing more about who we are allows us to dig into the inherent beliefs, habits, and stories we carry with us wherever we go, most of which are unconscious. From there, it’s easier to identify and let go of what is holding us back and lean into our unique paths. 

This system is ancient—some scholars trace it to Alexandria in the 4th century. Its modern iteration was developed over the 20th century and was scientifically validated as a personality indicator around the year 2000. Its growth over the last two decades has made it a leading school of thought in the world of human development and has proven itself in practice to be the most robust approach to self-improvement in the professional world. 


What Are The Enneagram Types? 

There are nine personality types in the Enneagram system. While we may have personal or cultural biases that make us favor some Enneagram types over others, the system is egalitarian in nature (the numbers are simply a neutral representation of the types). 

Once we know your Enneagram type, we can break down its corresponding traits and work toward your goals. The nine types are: 

Type One: The Reformer
Type Two: The Helper
Type Three: The Achiever
Type Four: The Individualist
Type Five: The Investigator
Type Six: The Loyalist
Type Seven: The Enthusiast
Type Eight: The Challenger
Type Nine: The Peacemaker


What’s The Best Enneagram Test? 

It’s easy to see an Enneagram type that jumps out at you when you first come across the system. Still, it can be helpful to take an Enneagram test to skirt around any internal biases or ideas you have about yourself that may not reflect your reality as well as you think. There are a few Enneagram tests available online, but here are two great options: 

This one is from The Enneagram Institute, one of the leading Enneagram organizations. We like to use them as a guiding resource, and this test proves to be in-depth and relatively accurate. 

This one from Eclectic Energies is free and is a great way to dip your toes in understanding the Enneagram. 

Keep in mind that no online assessment is completely accurate at assessing who you are; self-inquiry and supportive coaching from someone well trained in the Enneagram often prove to be the most effective ways to truly confirm your Ennea-type!

If you’re skeptical about your results, retake the test or try another one. Research is the most incredible tool in our arsenal because it’s backed by such a deep well of knowledge online. The more you learn about Enneagram and the organizations that promote it, the better your chances of finding the right test—and therefore, most accurate results—for you become.

What Are The Wings And Triads?

There’s more to Enneagram than just your dominant personality type; a single label is simply not enough to encompass everything about you. That’s where wings and triads come into play. 

When you look at the Enneagram chart, you’ll notice that your primary Enneagram type is connected to two others. These adjacent personality types are called “wings.” 

While there is some contention between Enneagram traditions, most think that we have a primary personality type and one wing that complements it more strongly than the other. Some scholars, however, argue that both provide equally important information about you. Learning about your wings and how they interact with your Enneagram type is a wonderful way to delve deeper into your strengths and weaknesses so a plan of improvement can emerge. 

Enneagram “triads” establish a mechanism of understanding how we filter information as we move through the world. The three triads are made up of the heart, the head, and the gut, and they correspond to your Enneagram type: 2,3, and 4 live in the heart; 5, 6, and 7 in the head; 8,9 and 1 in the gut. 

Those whose Enneagram lies in the heart triad tend to be more emotionally inclined and lead with their need for connection and community. Personalities within the head triad see the world through their intellect and often make decisions based on their perceived sense of security. The gut center is all about instinct and the body’s reactions; these individuals are all about action and control. 

Understanding your Enneagram type, wings, and their triads allow you to explore the deepest levels of your personality, which, in turn, hold the keys to your success. All of the traits that make us who we are provide a blueprint for the actions we must take (or avoid) to reach our career and personal goals. 

We use Enneagram in leadership development because it’s practical yet deep, organized, and ultimately provides a bridge that can connect leaders with accelerated growth goals to improve themselves, their teams, and the systems that make up their workplaces. If you’re looking for a new approach to pushing yourself in your professional space, let’s connect and see what the Enneagram system can do for you

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