Can organisations have an Enneagram type?

The Enneagram is a system that describes nine distinct personality types and their interrelationships. While originally intended for understanding individuals, the Enneagram can also be applied to organisations, given that organisations, like individuals, exhibit patterns of behaviour and tendencies that can be characterised by the nine types.

Here’s a brief description of the nine types applied to an organization’s culture:

  1. Type One – The Perfectionist: Organisations characterised by this type often have a strong focus on quality, integrity, and high standards. They’re always striving to improve, and have rigorous protocols and procedures in place. There’s a risk, however, of becoming overly critical or rigid, and employees may feel constantly scrutinised.
  2. Type Two – The Helper: These organisations tend to create an atmosphere of support, care, and generosity. They often prioritise customer service and put a lot of emphasis on relationships. The potential downside is becoming overly accommodating or losing sight of the organisation’s needs in the process of helping others.
  3. Type Three – The Achiever: These organisations are success-oriented, adaptable, and driven. They focus on goals, productivity, and efficiency, and often have a competitive culture. There’s a risk of becoming overly focused on image and achievement to the detriment of employee wellbeing.
  4. Type Four – The Individualist: These organisations value authenticity, creativity, and individuality. They may be involved in creative industries and prioritise innovation. The downside is they can become overly focused on their unique identity, which can lead to a lack of cohesion or practicality.
  5. Type Five – The Investigator: These organisations are analytical, innovative, and often involved in research and development. They value knowledge and expertise and encourage employees to become experts in their field. The potential downside is becoming overly detached or neglecting the emotional aspects of the organisation.
  6. Type Six – The Loyalist: These organisations place a high value on security, loyalty, and predictability. They have clear rules and expectations, and often have robust systems for risk management. The downside can be a resistance to change and an overly cautious approach that stifles innovation.
  7. Type Seven – The Enthusiast: These organisations are energetic, upbeat, and focused on exploration and innovation. They value variety and adventure and tend to maintain a positive outlook. The downside can be a lack of focus, impulsivity, or neglect of routine tasks.
  8. Type Eight – The Challenger: These organisations are confident, assertive, and protective of their people. They value strength and resilience and aren’t afraid to take on challenges. However, they may become overly confrontational or dominating, which can create a hostile work environment.
  9. Type Nine – The Peacemaker: These organisations emphasise harmony, inclusiveness, and consensus. They tend to avoid conflict and ensure everyone feels heard and accepted. The downside can be an avoidance of necessary conflict, slow decision-making processes, and a tendency to overlook problems in the pursuit of peace.

It’s important to note that, like individuals, organisations are complex and may exhibit characteristics of several types. However, one type typically dominates and influences the overall culture of the organisation. By understanding the Enneagram type of an organisation or a team, leaders can leverage its strengths and address its potential challenges to create a healthier and more effective work environment.

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