Leading others starts with leading ourselves. That means leaders must be be committed to personal development if we’re going to have long-term success. But some paths to personal development are more direct than others.
My friend Ian Cron is both a priest and a therapist. He’s also an expert in the Enneagram, an ancient personal-development tool that’s received increased attention over the last several years.
GM, Sony, Adobe, HP, Toyota, Motorola, even the Oakland A’s have used it. I’ve been using it for over a decade, first personally and then professionally. It’s the single best tool of its kind I’m aware of.
Everyone’s personality is different. For instance, some leaders are like Steve Jobs. Others are more like Bill Gates. It pays to know the differences, especially when it comes to your own leadership.
The Enneagram helps by detailing nine basic personality types—Achiever, Helper, Loyalist, Challenger, and so on—and showing us where we fall as individuals. Other assessments come close to this. I like the DiSC and Myers-Briggs. But the Enneagram beats them all.
It not only reveals your personality type; it also shows the pitfalls of your type and how to navigate around them. No more getting in your own way. The Enneagram is like a map for becoming the best version of yourself.
That’s why I’m so excited about Ian’s new book, The Road Back to You, coauthored with Suzanne Stabile. It’s now my go-to resource on the Enneagram.
There are at least five conditions every leader must meet to be truly effective, and The Road Back to You shows us how.
- Leaders must be self-aware. There is no way to effectively lead others without knowing what’s going on inside ourselves. Self-awareness is the first step toward better decisions, strategies, and relationships.
Our drives, emotions, fears, and even our sins affect our leadership, whether we like it or not. The Enneagram goes beyond appearances and behaviors and helps us peek under the hood of our own minds and hearts.
Leaders must know what drives them. It’s critical to know why we do what we do. For instance, of the nine types, I’m a Three on the Enneagram. A lot of executives and entrepreneurs are. That’s the Achiever.
But Ian points out it’s also called the Performer, and performance can dominate my life if I’m not careful. The Road Back to You goes into detail on the pitfalls for all the types. It’s pretty eye-opening.
Leaders must be committed to growth. Once we know our type and its pitfalls, we can discover how to overcome them. This is huge. StrengthsFinder and Kolbe are really helpful tools (I use them all the time), but they only reveal our set personalities.
The Enneagram is dynamic. It shows us how we function when we feel secure, when we’re stressed, when we’re healthy, and when we’re unhealthy. That means it comes with a built-in path to improvement. The Road Back to You gives specific advice on growth for each personality type.
Leaders must see the best in their teammates. We tend to think most people are like us. But they’re not. The Enneagram reveals just how different we are. And that’s a huge advantage for leaders.
When we see what makes the different personality types tick, we can develop empathy for our team members. We get a sense of what drives them, concerns them, helps them, and hurts them. And that means we can set them—and our organizations—up for success by working with them, not against them.
Leaders must be committed to their teammates’ growth. Just like they’re committed to their own growth, effective leaders are dedicated to helping their teammates grow as well.
The Enneagram dials in a growth path unique to each person. Imagine being able to coach your teammates with that kind of precision. Or coordinate projects. Or structure cross-functional workgroups. The HR potentials are endless.
I had Ian come and teach my entire company the Enneagram. It was a tremendous time of learning, self-discovery, and team building. There were so many lightbulbs going off over people’s heads, I could have powered a city for a month with all the energy.
The Road Back to You is not a leadership book per se. But it’s the best leadership book I’ve read in a long time. And it can help anyone learn and employ the most powerful leadership tool I’ve ever used.