Enneagram: three good descriptors

We offer an Enneagram-focused Training and Coaching program for organizations of all kinds: to build unity, emphasize positive organizational citizenship, improve relationships, increase understanding and improve communications. In addition, our Leadership Development program includes a customized personal development component. See here for the services page.Enneagram Drawing

Here are are three good descriptions of the Enneagram:

1. You have a Pre-installed “Operating System”.  The Enneagram provides an operating manual for how you and others “work.”

With a good operating manual and the right tools you can optimize your psychological health! Psychological health can be defined as the ability to respond to a given situation in the moment with openness and flexibility. Feeling reactive means feeling like you have no choice in how you respond in a situation. It’s like a knee jerk reaction.  The Enneagram provides a map to help you navigate toward greater psychological health by describing the habitual patterns that can keep you inflexible and closed.  In its brilliance, it also illuminates the pathway to what a more expanded and evolved YOU may look like.

The first step in changing your reactions is to become AWARE of the dominant pattern of those reactions. Awareness is the primary tool for transforming your life. Your habitual reactions are part of how you’ve learned to survive, to protect yourself and to navigate the world. You found a system that makes sense to you. But it also causes frustration. The Enneagram can help because it gives you the codes to your operating system.

2.  The Enneagram Is a Map for Understanding the Self and is a way to look at our Lens, through which we view the world…

The ENNEAGRAM (nine points) is a personality system that presents a useful template or map for understanding ourselves, the important people in our life, and the groups we work with. It describes nine ways of processing and responding to the world– a full spectrum of personality styles. We view the world through lenses which either bring great clarity or various degrees of distortion to our vision. The Enneagram enables us to look at our lenses instead of just looking through them.

__Jerome Wagner

3.  Our personality Type is our Filter, sometimes obscuring all of reality. Enneagram work explores those filters and how they work for and against us.

While our restless yearnings may be universal, how they are expressed is much more particular and is, in fact, a function of the “filter” with which we approach all of life. The main filter that we use to understand ourselves and the world all around us, to express ourselves, to defend ourselves, to deal with our past and anticipate our future, to learn with, to rejoice with and to fall in love with, is our personality type.

__D Riso and R Hudson

Enneagram Theory and practice is fascinating and there are a variety of ways to describe it and its benefits. For me, I believe it is about awareness and being tuned in to ourselves and others.  The benefit of this awareness is manifested in different ways for each of us.

Installment 2, Ethics in Practice: Why it Matters

I was engaged in various capacities at several unique organizations, all of which provided a wealth of learning in the arenas of management, leadership and ethics. As I emphasized earlier, these were and are solid organizations, led by good people, with good programs, providing valuable–sometimes exceptional–community services. However, in all cases, the viability of each entity is put at risk when ethical violations occur, even unknowingly or “when no one got hurt”. Please note that I have not yet adequately defined the term Ethics as I use it in this series. I think some of my understanding lies in the space between Ethics and Integrity. More on that to come later.

Further  thoughts and caveats on this series is shown in the introduction to Installment 1, here.

For this installment: A Case of Embellishment

Continue reading “Installment 2, Ethics in Practice: Why it Matters”

Culture Fit in Hiring

My discomfort with the idea of Culture Fit in Hiring has been percolating for a while, and I’ve tried to wrap my mind around why I struggle with it.  I think in large part it has to do with the term “Culture” in general.

In organizations, the definition can be fuzzy, and can be used to mean different things.  Officially, in Organizational Development disciplines, Culture refers to ‘how’ we do things, while Climate refers to how things ‘feel’ (when we are immersed in the organization).  But those who work in the trenches often mix these two concepts, or blend them. In addition, there is another accepted meaning for Culture that embraces the institutional history and artifacts that inform the “how” and sometimes the “why” behind the “how”.

SDiversitreeo, when hiring someone to come in to an organization I think it is almost impossible to screen for culture fit, due to that historical component.  How can anyone externally possibly know the historical references? After all, the candidate’s history has been experienced elsewhere, which presumably is why you need them…to bring their own experience and history to the table.

More importantly, when you engage a staff panel to conduct the screening interviews, you bring a group of people with their own view and their individual experiences of the internal climate and the culture, and  yet they are expected to come to a conclusion on the Fit of the candidate. I also fear that often times the word FIT overrides the definitions of Culture and even Climate, so there is a huge risk that around the table the team is screening for something else:  homogeneity. We can–and without malice–err on the side of: “someone who will be fun to hang with”, or “this person is a lot like us/me, so he/she must be a good fit”.  This flies in the face of good business/organizational strategy.

All the studies show that the best companies have great diversity of thought, approach, opinion and personalities. This is achieved through diversity of background, culture or experience–and yes race and ethnicity.  In terms of just generational diversity alone, it has been said that each generation has its blind spots, therefore a variety of age groups has a good chance of having all the blind spots covered.

Take a look at this great article by Jennifer Briggs. I love her phrase: “Hire for a homogeneity of positive mindsets and a diversity of personalities, races, nationalities, and world-cultures.”  (emphasis my own) Mindset, says Briggs is not a matter of personality, so personality tests don’t do the trick.  Clarity on the ideal mindset for your particular organization is critical. Also, she emphasizes hiring for the organization you want to be in the future, not the one you have today.  Which points to some serious training efforts if you want to use staff panels to chime in on your new hires.

What mindset is needed for your organization 3 or 5 years from now?  Think about it!




Essential Conversation

There is a very popular book that is widely utilized in organizations: “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High” by Kerry Patterson,  Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler. This is a great book; we should all be reading it regularly.  In some organizations, this valuable text is required reading, and every staff person is provided a personal copy.

There are other, deeper aspects to conversation that I think also require a bit of attention. One aspect is that of  the proactive conversation, or what I call the Essential Conversations (EC). These are the conversations that establish our baselines and the shared understanding of how we are going to be in relationship. This model and term was established, in fact, in the clinical family counseling arena, and the version I use is adapted from Bob Dunham’s framework in his Generative Leadership programs (with permission).
Continue reading “Essential Conversation”

Listening, Part II

Five Ways to Listen Well
Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who
 do more listening than talking.
Bernard Baruch

Good listening skill is a key skill for anyone who works with others in business, government or nonprofits. It is especially important for those in management and leadership positions. It is something I myself am always working to improve in my own interactions and something I help others to develop. Continue reading “Listening, Part II”

Listening, Part I

Listening to Understand
One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening
to what another
 has to say.
Bryant H. McGill

Effective listening, I’ve been told, is essential to all healthy relationships.

If we fail to listen to our children, how can we be sensitive to their unique needs? If we fail to listen to our spouse or partner, we convey that they are not really so important in our lives.

We hear relationship and communication experts tell us that when we are in conversation, most of us are engaging our brains to devise our next statement or argument, rather than being engaged in listening to what the other is actually saying. This becomes especially true in times of conflict or when a difficult subject is being addressed. It becomes a game of “Ok, I’ll give you a turn to talk, but wait for what I’m going to say next. You are going to be so impressed!” We listen just enough to prepare an effective comeback. Continue reading “Listening, Part I”

Communication in Business

It is sometimes the practice of business and nonprofit leaders to take the approach that “It is not personal, it is just business.”

You might see this is an issue if you consider that businesses and organizations are nothing if not a collection of human beings working towards a common goal, and each one of them has personal needs and viewpoints—none of which can be ignored. If we want the entity to be a profitable and impactful enterprise, success requires an organizational atmosphere and culture of trust. And interestingly, Trust is a human characteristic and is always founded upon the personal level. “Do I trust this person, or does this person trust me?”  So, it is the personal level that allows the trust to flourish. It flourishes—just like my beloved garden in my backyard—when we know the other sees us fully, hears us and we can hear them.

I delve further here, in a piece on Being Heard.