The Enneagram at Work
Jim McPartlin with Anna Akbari

The Enneagram at Work - Book Summary

Unlocking the Power of Type to Lead and Succeed

Duration: 29:00
Release Date: July 10, 2024
Book Author: Jim McPartlin with Anna Akbari
Categories: Management & Leadership, Psychology, Personal Development
Duration: 29:00
Release Date: July 10, 2024
Book Author: Jim McPartlin with Anna Akbari
Categories: Management & Leadership, Psychology, Personal Development

In this episode of 20 Minute Books, we delve into "The Enneagram at Work" by Jim McPartlin and Anna Akbari, a compelling guide to harnessing the power of the Enneagram within the realm of business. Published in 2021, this insightful book offers readers a practical application of the Enneagram, an emotional intelligence framework, to enhance leadership and improve workplace dynamics.

"The Enneagram at Work" explores various Enneagram types, encouraging self-awareness to strengthen teams and ignite innovative problem-solving strategies. It covers vital aspects of professional interaction, including conflict resolution, mentorship, and the art of giving and receiving feedback, equipping readers with the necessary tools for personal and collective growth leading to sustained success in their careers.

Authors Jim McPartlin and Anna Akbari bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. McPartlin, with over 30 years in the luxury hotel industry and as a consultant to high-profile companies like Chanel and American Express, provides deep insights into interpersonal dynamics at work. Akbari, a sociologist with extensive contributions to prestigious publications and an advisor to industry leaders, adds a rich, academic perspective to the practical applications of the Enneagram.

This book is perfect for individuals looking to understand their own workplace behaviors, leaders aiming to build resilient teams, and anyone interested in using emotional intelligence to foster a thriving professional environment.

Join us as we explore how to leverage your Enneagenm type for leadership success, nurture your professional relationships, and create a more effective and harmonious work environment. Whether you're a self-starter, a team player, or a seasoned leader, "The Enneagram at Work" offers valuable insights for anyone looking to improve their workplace interactions and leadership skills.

Discovering the key to emotional intelligence

In a world where emotional intelligence has become a pivotal skill in the corporate arena, understanding and mastering interpersonal relationships is not merely a bonus—it's a necessity for success. While some individuals naturally excel in connecting and leading, most of us have to cultivate these abilities through discipline, effort, and self-awareness.

This is where the ancient wisdom of the Enneagram comes into play. The Enneagram is not just another psychological tool; it's a profound framework that assists in deepening your understanding of both yourself and others. It acts as a beacon for personal growth and a strategic guide for unlocking your full leadership potential.

This script will walk you through the vibrant landscape of the Enneagram, providing you with valuable insights and practical exercises meant to enhance your capacity for leadership and personal evolution. Here, you'll discover the enduring truth that the Enneagram does not aim to alter your core personality. Instead, it enriches your inherent traits, providing clarity on how to leverage them.

You'll also explore the five fundamental principles of impactful leadership and learn the art of 'failing well' — turning apparent setbacks into stepping stones for future success. Each segment is designed to enrich your understanding and assist in sculpting a well-rounded, emotionally intelligent leader out of you.

Step into this journey of self-discovery and see how the time-tested wisdom of the Enneagram can illuminate your path to personal and professional excellence.

Unlocking personal and professional growth with the Enneagram

Hailing from a tradition spanning back 2,500 years and intertwined with mystical and religious practices such as Sufism and Christianity, the Enneagram has journeyed from obscurity into the spotlight of modern psychology and corporate strategies. Previously dismissed by some critics as esoteric or "woo-woo," it's now recognized as an invaluable tool in diverse environments—from resolving workplace conflicts to enhancing marital relations. Heavyweights in the corporate world like Chanel, Geico, and Best Buy have embraced the Enneagram to fortify both personal performance and team dynamics.

The core concept here is straightforward: the Enneagram empowers you to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

For leaders, this means gaining an acute awareness of not only your qualities and areas for improvement but also those of your team members. Understanding the intrinsic motivations and potential stumbling blocks of yourself and others can act like an "invisible superpower," fostering trust, elevating morale, boosting productivity, and even increasing profitability.

The Enneagram stands out by offering more than mere categorization of personality types; it provides a dynamic framework for understanding human behaviors and relationships. It does not endeavor to "fix" individuals; rather, it emphasizes that everyone is inherently complete. What it strives to do is illuminate your behavioral patterns, enhancing those traits that serve you well and helping you let go of those that hinder your progress.

However, embracing change through the Enneagram isn't without its challenges. Most people are deeply entrenched in their behaviors, finding comfort in the familiarity, even when these behaviors are detrimental. Attempting to alter these ingrained habits can meet substantial internal and external resistance.

The process of realigning oneself with their core essence and shedding unproductive habits is a journey of introspection and evolution. It necessitates a commitment to self-acceptance—recognizing where you are currently and where you aim to be. Patience is also crucial; change is a gradual process that flourishes under thoughtful reflection and open communication with oneself and others.

Remember, what's presented here is just the beginning. Engaging with the Enneagram is about embarking on a continual path of personal discovery and professional development, with each step offering new insights and growth opportunities.

Exploring your core identity with the Enneagram

As you delve deeper into understanding the Enneagram, it's crucial to grasp the intricate structure and profound impact it can have in unraveling the complexities of human personality. Stemming from the Greek words "ennea" (meaning nine) and "gram" (written), the Enneagram maps out nine distinct personality types around a circle, interlinked by a complex nine-pointed figure. Despite its elaborate portrayal, the goal isn't to confine anyone within rigid boundaries but to offer insights into various behavioral dynamics.

Here’s how the Enneagram can serve as a guiding tool in discovering your inherent traits and essence.

Every individual aligns predominantly with one of the nine types, each providing a unique perspective on how they view the world and manage their emotions and behaviors. For instance, the first type is known as the Strict Perfectionist — denoted by individuals driven by a clear sense of what should be and characterized by high ethical standards and a critical nature towards themselves and others. Following them is the Considerate Helper, ever willing to put their own needs aside to assist others, driven by an underlying desire for affection and acceptance.

Next, the Competitive Achiever marks someone who prioritizes ambition and societal status over personal emotions, striving relentlessly towards their goals. In contrast, the Intense Creative craves uniqueness and emotional depth, often finding themselves drawn to artistic expressions and dramatic scenarios.

Moving to the fifth position, the Quiet Specialist values logic over emotion, thriving in serene settings that allow for deep contemplation and understanding. The Loyal Skeptic encompasses the sixth spot, constantly preparing for the worst and questioning reliability, dominated by fears of instability.

The Enthusiastic Visionary appears next, characterized by their optimistic, adventurous spirit and a slight aversion to restrictive commitments, always scouting for new possibilities. On the more authoritative end is the Boss, dominating the eighth type with a natural inclination for leadership and control, yet occasionally overlooking the emotional pulses of those around them.

Finally, the Adaptive Peacemaker, the ninth type, embodies diplomacy and balance, often struggling with decision-making due to their ability to see all perspectives and their preference for harmony over conflict.

Identifying your core Enneagram type might not be straightforward, as individuals are complex mosaics of various traits. However, taking some time to engage in introspective reflection might help you pinpoint which description feels most aligned with your inner self. This identification is the first step towards leveraging the Enneagram for personal growth, facilitating deeper self-awareness, and fostering meaningful interactions in every sphere of life.

Enhancing leadership through the power of self-awareness

Jim McPartlin's life was once governed by intense anxieties that, while seemingly beneficial in keeping him prepared, permeated every facet of his being with unease. This all changed in 1993, during a transformative seminar on the Enneagram, where the spotlight turned to the Type Six: the Loyal Skeptic. As the presenter described this personality type, McPartlin found himself exclaiming in astonishment, as the narrative mirrored his own experiences so closely without ever having met him.

This epiphany not only altered his personal outlook but also reshaped his approach to leadership by highlighting the crucial role of self-awareness—a facet often underestimated in its power to forge effective leaders.

The lesson is clear: Cultivating self-awareness is pivotal for impactful leadership.

Gone are the days when self-awareness was dismissed as mere fluff in the professional world. Today, it stands as a cornerstone of operational success in any enterprise. Evidence-based research bolsters this view, suggesting that a vivid self-understanding enhances confidence, sparks creativity, and improves overall performance. These improvements not only elevate personal effectiveness but can also significantly impact an organization’s bottom line.

To foster self-awareness, it’s essential that leaders break free from the shackles of habitual mental patterns and begin to perceive thought processes as malleable elements that, like muscles, can be trained and strengthened. McPartlin himself, initially skeptical about meditation, discovered its efficacy in honing mind focus and clarity.

Starting this journey can be as simple as attending to one’s breath. By anchoring your attention on the rhythmic flow of inhaling and exhaling and observing your immediate physical and mental states, you can cultivate a heightened state of presence. Even focusing on a mundane object for ten breath cycles can open new insights, encouraging thoughts and feelings to surface without judgment.

Building on the foundation of self-awareness are McPartlin’s other key principles of leadership. The second principle urges leaders to stay curious, consistently seeking new knowledge and reflecting on daily learnings. The third emphasizes the importance of honoring commitments, which builds trust and dependability within the team. Carefully selecting team members who complement one’s strengths forms the fourth principle. Lastly, maintaining attentiveness in all activities—from meetings to mundane tasks—enhances engagement and productivity.

Together, these principles weave a tapestry of strategies that not only advance personal growth but also cultivate a leadership style that is both effective and respected. Embracing these insights can transform the way leaders operate, fostering environments where innovation, trust, and efficiency thrive.

Finding harmony in your three intelligence centers

At the heart of the Enneagram's philosophy lies a powerful triangle, symbolizing the three centers of intelligence that govern our interactions with the world: the head (logic), the gut (action), and the heart (emotion). These centers form the basis of the nine Enneagram personality types, influencing how each type processes experiences and reacts to the world around them. For instance, those in the action triad rely heavily on instincts, logic types prioritize mindful analysis, and emotion types navigate the world driven by feelings.

Consider this: while the brain is traditionally seen as the seat of logic, it's important to recognize that action and emotion centers are equally influential. When these centers are synchronized and functioning optimally, they enhance our capabilities significantly—our head center sharpens our observation and creativity, our gut center connects us to our instinctual energy, and our heart center opens us up to authentic emotional exchanges.

Here's the central insight: Balancing these three centers is essential to unlocking and engaging with your truest self.

A vivid example of this balance can be seen in the legendary Julia Child. During a celebration for her 90th birthday, Jim McPartlin observed Child effortlessly mingling, laughing, and balancing a martini with a walker. To him, she epitomized someone who had achieved a harmonious balance between her centers of intelligence—efficiency in action (as seen in her culinary precision), intellectual curiosity (her endless exploration of cooking techniques), and emotional engagement (her joy in sharing food).

However, achieving such equilibrium isn't an innate skill for most; it often requires conscious effort and introspection. Each personality type is predisposed to favor one intelligence center over others. To begin calibrating your centers, ponder these questions: How do each of these intelligence expressions manifest in my life? Which is my go-to center? Which do I neglect?

To engage all three centers more fully, McPartlin recommends a simple exercise known as The Pause. Take a brief moment to stop your current activity and focus inward. Ask yourself: What am I thinking? How am I feeling? What am I inclined to do? In moments alone, physically touch your temples, heart, and belly to connect with each center, or simply visualize doing so in social settings. Identify which centers need more attention and consciously lean into them.

Incorporating this practice of pausing, especially during stressful situations, alongside a regular meditation regimen, helps to realign your intelligence centers more consistently. This not only disrupts habitual auto-response patterns but strengthens your ability to maintain internal balance amidst daily challenges.

Mastering the art of feedback and mentorship in leadership

For many, the idea of giving critique, except perhaps for individuals like the Type Three (Competitive Achiever) or Type Eight (The Boss), tends to be a daunting task. However, as you've likely noticed in your professional journey, the ability to effectively give and receive feedback is an integral component of leadership.

A structured four-step feedback model can transform this potentially tense process into a more constructive and less intimidating experience. This strategy not only helps in stabilizing your reaction but also in responding to situations more objectively instead of yielding to impulsive emotions.

Here's why developing proficiency in feedback and mentorship is considered a cornerstone of exemplary leadership.

The first step involves objectively observing the behavior that needs attention. Approach this observation without bias, similar to noting that it's raining—simply state, "John, I noticed you were late today."

The next step is to interpret the situation with a sense of empathy. Always allow room for external factors that may have influenced the behavior: "John, I noticed you were late today. Perhaps the subway was delayed?"

Following interpretation, it's important to express how the situation made you feel. This openness not only humanizes the interaction but also clarifies the emotional impact: "John, I noticed you were late today. The subway might have been delayed, but I'm feeling frustrated."

The final step is to clearly state your needs while maintaining a calm and measured tone: "John, I noticed you were late today. The subway might have been delayed and I'm feeling frustrated, but I need to know what we can do to ensure you’re on time in the future.”

Beyond feedback, mentorship is another vital aspect of effective leadership. Jim McPartlin regards mentoring as one of the most beneficial and noble roles a leader can assume. It doesn’t just cultivate good karma and enhance organizational harmony—it also fulfills personal satisfaction and reinforces a leader’s foundation by necessitating a focus on their own centers of intelligence.

When engaging in mentorship, especially with someone who isn’t familiar with the Enneagram, consider exploring it together through books, online tests, or classes. While it’s crucial to avoid pigeonholing someone into a specific type, understanding each other's Enneagram configurations can significantly enrich the mentorship experience. It sets the stage for meaningful dialogue and leads to deeper, more authentic professional relationships and better developmental outcomes.

Leveraging humor and self-awareness to conquer fears and embrace failure

Confronting fears is a universal human experience—with public speaking often topping the list of common anxieties, especially for leaders tasked with addressing either small teams or large crowds. Instead of letting the dread of public speaking consume you, why not harness the principles of the Enneagram to navigate through these fears and eventually master the art of commanding any room?

Consider the outlook of a Type One, the Strict Perfectionist, whose main fear in public speaking might stem from a perceived lack of perfection. For them, rigorous practice could be key to confidence building. Alongside preparation, integrating humor can lighten the atmosphere, making the experience more enjoyable for both the speaker and the audience. After all, humor is a powerful tool to manage stress, enhance morale, and increase productivity.

The overarching message here is clear: Utilize humor, cultivate self-awareness, and draw insights from various Enneagram types to effectively manage fear and failure.

To diminish the intensity of fear, try transforming it into something less daunting. Imagine employing the "Riddikulus" charm from Harry Potter, which turns terrifying fears into something laughable. Identify your fear, contemplate its true threat level, and mentally convert it into a more humorous scenario until you can't help but smile at it.

Failure, much like fear, can also be daunting but should be approached with resilience and a plan for recovery. While physical injuries like a broken leg from a skiing mishap have clear recovery protocols, emotional or career setbacks like getting fired or missing a promotion are often met with internal turmoil rather than constructive action.

When encountering failure, activate your three centers of intelligence for a balanced recovery: nurture your Heart Brain with compassion, analyze the situation with your Head Brain, and motivate your Gut Brain to propel forward action. Reflect on the story of Jim McPartlin, who, after being fired as a hotel general manager, transformed his career and outlook by immersing himself in the world of the Enneagram.

To navigate failure effectively, McPartlin embraced the strengths associated with various Enneagram types, experimenting with their distinct approaches to problem-solving and planning. For instance, channeling a Type Three might involve meticulous planning and goal-setting, providing a structured path forward.

By adopting attributes from different Enneagram types, even temporarily, you open up a treasure trove of strategies to rise above challenges and redirect your life's trajectory. This multi-type approach not only provides diverse perspectives but also enriches your personal growth journey, allowing you to emerge from setbacks stronger and more prepared than before.

Navigating conflict and enhancing collaboration through self-awareness

Conflict is an inevitable part of daily interactions and leadership, often arising from varied causes such as differing values, competitive dynamics, or differing expectations on project outcomes. Yet, the deep root of most conflicts lies in contrasting behavioral patterns, leading to miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Understanding your own behavioral patterns is the first step towards effective conflict management.

The essence of conflict resolution and fostering teamwork lies in the ability to identify and adjust your own patterns of behavior. This concept is illustrated vividly in a series of paintings by George Rodrigue featuring his dog, Tiffany. In these artworks, Tiffany transforms from blue to red, depicting shifts from her good to her bad self. Similar to Tiffany, we all possess the capacity to display both constructive and destructive behaviors depending on the situation.

In every personality type, there are both higher and lower expressions of behavior. For instance, a Type Four (Intense Creative) might react to stress by presenting a calm, self-aware demeanor (their higher self) or by becoming overly dramatic and withdrawn (their lower self). Recognizing these tendencies in real-time is crucial. By actively monitoring and adjusting your reactions, you can shift from a potentially negative to a more positive state, thereby diffusing tension and improving the dynamics of leadership and collaboration.

Incorporating the Enneagram not only aids in personal growth but also enhances team interactions. Effective collaboration hinges on the ability to respect and integrate diverse viewpoints. Recognizing another person's perspective, assertively communicating your own, and collaboratively finding solutions are fundamental to successful teamwork.

Further enriching this process are the three Enneagram subtypes or instincts—self-preservation, social, and one-to-one. These instincts help in understanding the underlying motivations of others' behaviors. For example, someone prioritizing self-preservation might seek security in decisions, while a social subtype focuses on group dynamics, and a one-to-one subtype emphasizes deep personal connections.

Often, we find immediate rapport with individuals whose instinctual subtypes align with ours, while others might naturally challenge us. Understanding these dynamics, such as knowing that a Type Four might feel triggered by being ignored, allows for more mindful interactions where you can consciously demonstrate appreciation and value for their contributions.

Letting go of ingrained behavioral patterns is challenging, particularly without assurance that others will reciprocate. But like any meaningful relationship, the effort to understand and adapt is perpetual and worthwhile. Through self-awareness and embracing the diversity of Enneagram insights, you can transform conflicts into opportunities for team strengthening and personal leadership growth.

Concluding insights

The overarching message from these explorations is clear:

The journey to becoming an effective leader fundamentally begins with mastering self-management, and the cornerstone of this process is cultivating self-awareness. Utilizing the Enneagram provides a profound framework for engaging deeply with your inherent strengths and areas for improvement. While our behavioral patterns may be deeply ingrained, they do not rigidly define who we are. Rather, by acknowledging and understanding these patterns with clarity, you can strategically align them to your advantage.

Remember, you are inherently complete and capable as you are. However, through deliberate self-reflection and targeted development, you have the potential to transcend from being merely fine to truly exceptional, both in your professional endeavors and personal relationships. The insights gleaned from the Enneagram offer not just transformative perspectives on leadership but also enrich your holistic personal development.

Similar Books

The 5 AM Club
12 Rules For Life
Emotional Intelligence
The Gap and the Gain
Think and Grow Rich
The High 5 Habit
Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself