At work, are you a Perfectionist, a Troubleshooter, a Sage or a Top Dog? Maybe you're a Helper, a Producer or a Connoisseur? According to the ancient theory of the Enneagram, which dates back to Homer's time (750 B.C), there are nine different personality types, and they cover pretty much everyone. Popular author and speaker Michael J. Goldberg believes that your personality type says a lot about your work habits, and the more you know about how you work, the more you'll know about working with others.
Before you write off his theories as "airy-fairy blah-blah," know that Goldberg has used the Enneagram to consult with organizations all over the world, including Motorola, the Central Intelligence Agency, Honeywell and the Internal Revenue Service. He's also taught it at graduate schools of management, psychology and law. In his book 'The 9 Ways of Working -- How to use the Enneagram to Discover Your Natural Strengths and Work More Effectively,' Goldberg gives the rundown of how you can use the Enneagram theory to get ahead and achieve more in the workplace.
The nine types
Basically, we all fall into one specific type. While we might see pieces of ourselves in other types, there is one type that overwhelming describes each one of us. Each type is neither good nor bad, according to Goldberg -- it's all about your style of relating. That's why Buddha and Barack Obama are the same type (5, the Sage). The nine types and how they act in the workplace, according to Goldberg, are:
1. The Perfectionist
You want to get things exactly right. You're idealistic, critical and judgmental. You make decisions with the thought that there is only one correct way to do it. Upright, fastidious and high energy, you have a tendency to nit-pick and micro-manage, but you ultimately blame yourself more than others. You have a clear vision of the way things should be.
Famous Perfectionists: Hilary Clinton, Laura Schlesinger, Rudy Giuliani, Al Gore and Martha Stewart
2. The Helper
Sweet, sensitive, helpful and sometimes humble, your road to power and influence involves making yourself indispensable to others. Think Joan on 'Mad Men,' or a Jewish or Italian mother. You are relationship-oriented. Although you can be manipulative, you are also inspirational and bring out the best in others.
Famous Helpers: Mister Rogers, Joseph Biden, Isaac Mizrahi, Kelly Ripa, Katy Perry, Kendra Wilkinson and Sarah Palin
3. The Producer
Enthusiastic, efficient, high-performing and competitive, you are a can-do person who wants to be known for getting the job done. You can be seen as a charismatic leader, or as superficial and insensitive. You're a good team player and motivator, and you're very proud of your accomplishments. You know how the world works and you know what to do about it. America is a "3" country, according to Goldberg.
Famous Producers: Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Billy Mayes, Tony Robbins and Oprah Winfrey
4. The Connoisseur
You love the beautiful, the true, the obscure and the unusual. You're romantic, creative, a bit melancholy, and can sometimes be elitist. You often make decisions based on feeling. Some people see you as snooty, acerbic and critical, but you prefer to describe yourself as a patron of the arts and the finer things in life, elegant and tasteful.
Famous Connoisseurs: Ralph Lauren, Robert Downey, Jr., Francis Ford Coppola, Anne Rice, Amy Winehouse and Angelina Jolie
5. The Sage
You like to be slightly removed from the rest, so you can watch the world from a safe distance while collecting facts, theories and information. You are independent and self-sufficient, and are sometimes considered distant. You can be brilliant, intense and committed.
Famous Sages: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Buddha, Barack Obama, Michell Pfeiffer, Tim Burton and Garrison Keillor
6. The Troubleshooter
You spend more time worrying about what could go wrong rather than dreaming about what is going right. At best you're uber-prepared, at worst you're paranoid. You're better on the defensive team than the offensive team. You're faithful, intuitive and committed, but you also tend to fret. Goldberg says Catholicism is a very "6" faith. You're great at figuring out hidden motives and agendas.
Famous Troubleshooters: John Stewart, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Larry David, Ellen Degeneres, Sarah Silverman, Glenn Beck and Keith Olberman
7. The Visionary
Engaging, energetic and upbeat, you can be optimistic to a fault. You're a great networker, and you see things in terms of the best possible outcome. Sometimes you get so caught up in how things could be that you're unaware of how things are, and people can view you as irresponsible and narcissistic because of that. You prefer to be called an idealist.
Famous Visionaries: John F. Kennedy, Richard Branson, Robin Williams, Cindy Lauper, Cameron Diaz, Bette Midler and Regis Philbin
8. The Top Dog
Power and control are your main goals, and you have the energy and cunning to achieve them. You never run from a fight or confrontation -- in fact, sometimes you seek them out. Nothing can keep you down for long, and you're capable of building an empire, but you are surprisingly protective and nurturing of the underdogs in your domain.
Famous Top Dogs: Rupert Murdock, John McCain, Rachel Maddow, Mike Tyson, Mike Ditka, Rosie O'Donnell, Queen Latifah, Roseanne Barr and Courtney Love
9. The Mediator
Confrontation and discord are your worst enemies, so you have become adroit at placating and pacifying. You are calm and good at compromise, and generally serve as the peacemaker in heated situations. You're in touch with the feelings of the group. Some people see you as ambiguous and indecisive.
Famous Mediators: Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II, Julia Child, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Broderick, Ringo Starr, Placido Domingo and Adam Sandler
How to make the most of them
When working together on a project, it's obvious that you'd want people from various types on your team: Too many Top Dogs and they'll tear each other apart, too many Mediators and you'll never accomplish anything. Also, if you have an idea of what type your co-workers are, Goldberg theorizes that you'll be better able to understand and motivate them. For example, you'll satisfy a Troubleshooter by assigning him or her to ferret out potential roadblocks, and the Visionary will be happiest setting goals and envisioning the best-case scenario. If you're struggling with a deadline, find a Helper to assist you, then give plenty of praise for the effort.
Taking it a step further, you can arrange these personality types on an Enneagram, or a nine-pointed star within a circle, with nine being where 12 would be on a clock, then counting around the clock with 1 coming first going clockwise. According to Goldberg, the numbers' relationships to each other on the circle can tell you a lot about who you work best with -- who will be your greatest ally, who will be your bitterest foe, who attracts you and who repels you. But in order to go into that kind of depth, you'll just have to buy the book, where you'll also get much more detailed descriptions of each type.
The bottom line is that the better you know what makes you tick and what motivates others, the more valuable you'll be in the workplace. Labels can be extremely useful if they help you get the job done. It's quite literally a matter of whatever works.
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