Enneagram Uncovers Nine Personality Types at Work. Which Are You?

enneagramAt 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.

Good jobs for Perfectionists: Preacher, teacher, quality control manager, architect, dentist, tailor or lecturer

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.

Good jobs for Helpers: Customer service, therapy, sales, public relations and health care

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.

Good Jobs for Producers: Executive, politician, coach, administrator, sales manager, self-help author and entrepreneur

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.

Good jobs for Connoisseurs: Artist, critic, columnist, designer, fiction writer, actor, song writer/performer -- creative people of any kind

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.

Good Jobs for Sages: Scientist, researcher, analyst, entrepreneur, advisor or writer

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.

Good jobs for Troubleshooters: Military, police, detective, spy, professor, strategic planner, risk analyst, news analyst

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.

Good jobs for Visionaries: Consultant, inventor, futurist, humorist, theoretical scientist, author or any role that involves mental inspiration and encouragement

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.

Good jobs for Top Dogs: Manager, real estate developer, director, commodities broker, prize fighter, political leader and athlete

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.

Good Jobs for Mediators: Diplomat, postal worker, manager, therapist, human resource expert and mediator

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.

enneagramTaking 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.

Next: Quiz: The Best Job For Your Personality Type >>

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Just read a few more comments... Obama is not an 8. He's way too conciliatory. He DOES have some 9-like qualities (as do some 3s given the energy connection between 3 & 9) — he IS indecisive at times — but overall he's way too ambitious and focused to be a 9. BTW, Romney is a 3 and we had a rare opportunity to witness two introverted 3s running against each other for US President last year. Of course more politicians are 3s than any other type.

August 12 2013 at 9:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama is DEFINITELY a 3 (with a 4 wing). Very smooth, very socially aware, very chameleon-like. He's an introverted 3 though, which makes him tougher to type. I think Trump is an 8. JFK has been typed as a 7 by many — and he may be — but he was ambitious and driven from the very start of his political career. And he had amazing stamina as a campaigner despite enormous back pain. His career arc post WWII strikes me as more characteristic of 3 than 7. But I could be wrong on this one.

August 12 2013 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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October 11 2011 at 4:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ken Jenkins

As an enneagram teacher of 15 years, I agree that Obama is NOT a 5/Sage/Thinker type. He is a 3/Achiever/Producer, as is Clinton, Carter, and as was JFK.

September 30 2010 at 5:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
janna nikkola

Thank you everyone, for your replies to my comment. I feel I should add a little more information about the particular Weak Link I was writing about. She was not having an affair with the manager -- he just felt sorry for her --and so did I, initially. She just came out of a bad relationship with a boyfriend who mistreated her so we all felt sorry for her. Over time we expected her to bounce back and realize that everyone in the office had personal problems, but we all learned to leave them at the door when we came to work. She had no decent business clothes, so I bought some for her, and then she lost them. I came to realize there are some young people in the work force who never "graduate" from the student mindset, even long after they're out of school and out in the real world. Remember how it was back in high school when you'd write a paper, bring it to the teacher who'd correct it with a red pen to indicate all your mistakes and give it back to you to do over again? Some students are content to get "C's" all through school -- as long as they pass, they're OK -- and in school no one else suffers. But what happens when this "C" student goes out into the work force still packing that "C" student mentality (70% accuracy, 30% error factor)? People like this never seem to mature to the point where they accept responsibility for the accuracy of their own work, and depend on others to correct their work for them. And that was this girl. As for the manager, he didn't like managing, so would hit the office around 8:00 AM, make a few phone calls and then skedaddle so he wouldn't have to deal with the clerical staff complaining about the loan officers and the loan officers complaining about the clerical/loan processing staff. So loan officers got stuck with someone like her. We all basically "liked" her and we did feel sorry for her, but she made our jobs so much more difficult and also made the other loan processors' jobs more difficult too. When anyone mentioned it to the manager, he went ballistic, so everyone learned not to go to him about her. It was a bad situation and I'm now out of there.

September 29 2010 at 7:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to janna nikkola's comment
Patricia Caputo

Janna, I commented on your first blog. Now I would like to stand corrected. The "girl" or "weak link" isn't the problem. Your boss is the problem and he is the one you should document and take to his boss -- or the labor board if he is never in the office to do his job, which is to 'supervise'!

September 29 2010 at 7:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


September 29 2010 at 6:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I just had to print that picture on SAGE. That works great in the correct room.

September 29 2010 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This "article" is nothing more than a ploy to promote a book.

September 29 2010 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dont forget about the union people that had a chance to stop the jobs from going to mexico, but now since it is threatening senior people at Hawker Beachcraft these people are finally starting to say something after 2 years of people going out the door that they made fun of and joked that they still had their job, and 2 years of parts going to Mexico. Most of them are lazy and complain about something every day. If they all lose there job, they deserve it. The Union didnt stand up for these jobs when they started going out the door. You should also put Mike Pompeo in there as well as a traitor to this country that helped those jobs go to Mexico. Anyone who profited from this is a traitor to this country!!!!

September 29 2010 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phil Briggs

I have read all of your comments. Not surprisingly, I can relate to almost every one of them except I don't think it necessary to compare the president of these United States to the worlds No. 1 most wanted criminal and threat to our country's security. He is doing all that he promised the American people he would do, and against all odds, to overcome 8 years of tyranny, free spending, give to the rich and to hell with the middle class and the poor. Change is what is needed and he is indeed trying to make that change if the fat cats and the free spenders would leave him alone and let him do his job and stop trying to make him look like a loser. God help us all if "they" get control again. Your vote is needed now more than ever. Excersise that right this November. I don't put much into these little tests that are supposed to categorize a person as to what occupation he, or she is best suited for. They are interesting and fun to take, to say the least, but I wouldn't bet the farm on their outcome. I have worked in an office atmosphere all of my life (50 yrs plus) and have seen and heard it all. I too can relate to your stories about the ass-kisser, the do-nothing and just about every trait, or personality you could imagine. This is not to say that I was, or am perfect. Not by any means. We are all flawed. I am retired now. Not because I want to be, but because I too was not a yes man and hated to see people, including myself, treated unfairly and not given credit where credit was due while they took all the credit. I was not willing to stand by and just watch this happen. So, I became a threat and with that and being in my seventies was told I was no longer needed because of the economy and cutbacks. I was replaced by a younger man not a week after I was let go. So no matter who we are, what category we fall in, or how good a job we do none of it really matters when we have to deal with the workplace predators we work with. No matter how good a job you do it will never be good enough as far as they are concerned. And that is just the way it is. Good luck to all of you out there that are looking for a job and want to get back to work. It will happen.

September 29 2010 at 3:10 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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