What is the Enneagram?

This article gives a general overview of the Enneagram framework, including each of the personality types, wings, arrows, and triads.

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Written by Team
Updated over a week ago

The Enneagram describes patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions. The Enneagram describes nine personality types and maps each of these types on a nine-pointed diagram which helps to illustrate how the types relate to one another.

There are nine personality types in the Enneagram system, each with its unique set of characteristics and specific motivating drivers. By understanding these different characteristics, team members can learn how to work more effectively with one another.

Core Type: The number within the Enneagram that you most identify with and believe best

represents your personality. (In the example below, the core type is 9: The Peacemaker)

Wings: Wings are the numbers that reside directly on the two sides of your core type. The

wings of each type represent additional elements of your personality that influence

and work in harmony with your core type. (In the example below, wings for the 9 could be 8 or 1, this person tested with a strong wing 8: The Challenger)

Arrows: Every number within the Enneagram has two connecting arrows representing

directions of growth and stress, which indicate characteristics each number exhibits

during these times. (In the example below, in stress (yellow) the 9 would show characteristics of a 6: The Loyalist, and in growth (purple) the 9 would show characteristics of a 3: The Achiever)

Triads: The three sections within the Enneagram that represent each group’s dominant emotion that influences how they make decisions.

  • Gut Triad: Types 8-9-1
    The Gut Triad use their instincts to make decisions; their dominant emotion is anger.

  • Heart Triad: Types 2-3-4
    The Heart Triad use their feelings to make decisions; their dominant emotion is shame.

  • Head Triad: Types 5-6-7
    The Head Triad use their thoughts to make decisions; their dominant emotion is fear.

The Enneagram does what a typical personality test doesn’t by exposing what drives decisions and behavior. It taps into your emotional intelligence and how you conceptualize the world and conform it to one of nine distinct personality types.

Below is an overview of the nine types of the Enneagram. To dive deeper into these, check out our other help guides!

  • Type 1: The Reformer: This personality type values hard work, self-control, and setting high standards. They find motivation by being or doing things “right” and fear being imperfect or perceived as wrong. They’re detail-oriented and typically the person you go to when dealing with difficult situations that require accuracy, quality control, and improvement.

  • Type 2: The Helper: They are positive, people-oriented individuals invested in the feelings and needs of others. Twos are motivated by being needed and fear feeling rejected by others. Twos are attentive, appreciative, generous, warm, playful, and nurturing. They usually have a large circle of acquaintances and fiercely guard relationships.

  • Type 3: The Achiever: These individuals tend to be ambitious, highly productive, and appear as the symbol of success in the workplace. Threes value appreciation and recognition. Hard work, goal-oriented, organization, and decisiveness are trademarks of this type. They are motivated by admiration and are fearful of lacking value to others.

  • Type 4: The Originalist: Fours are creative, unconventional individuals motivated to express their individuality and demonstrate fear when perceived as ordinary. They value authenticity and stand by their beliefs. Fours can also be empathetic in relationships, supportive, gentle, playful, passionate, and witty. They are self-revealing and can form bonds quickly with others.

  • Type 5: The Sage: They are thoughtful, cerebral types who see and interpret the world through information. Fives are motivated by a desire to be competent. They strive to be capable in all aspects and fear looking uninformed. Fives are independent thinkers and typically enjoy working alone to process and have time to problem-solve. They are good listeners, observant, and help others understand the truth more soberly and objectively.

  • Type 6: The Loyalist: They value preparedness and are dependable individuals you can trust with important decisions. This type is most motivated by stability and fears lacking direction. Sixes possess excellent problem-solving skills and thrive on helping to create solutions. They are adept at identifying potential problems and researching viable solutions.

  • Type 7: The Enthusiast: They are spontaneous, imaginative, charming people who bring fun to the workplace. They’re motivated to be happy and are fearful of experiencing limitations. Sevens have a positive outlook on life, and their enthusiasm proves a valuable asset to their team. They see opportunities others may miss but can be impulsive and fail to see projects through.

  • Type 8: The Challenger: These individuals stand up for what they believe in and care about justice. Eights find motivation in remaining in control and fear appearing weak or vulnerable. Eights often emerge as natural leaders because they are action-takers and can sometimes overstep boundaries to move work forward; however, this can cause relational strain with teammates.

  • Type 9: The Peacemaker: They are mediators of the group and thrive when helping differing parties resolve conflict. Their motivation stems from a desire for peace of mind and fears of experiencing overwhelming strife. Nines can handle difficult conversations and remain level-headed. They are commonly the person people go to when they need a resolution or a second opinion concerning a pressing issue. Nines are not confrontational but can navigate conflict to ensure both sides feel understood.

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