Article - Intermediate

9 Types of Leader

By Anna-Rosa Le Roux | 26 November 2018 |
nine types of leaders

When you imagine ‘leadership’ what kind of person do you picture? In the past, organisations had a more limited idea of what leadership meant and what a good leader looks like. This historical group of leaders often had a high proportion of the more assertive Ennea 8, Ennea 3 and Ennea 7 Types, who fit the image of ‘what a leader is’ in those eras.

In recent years, however, the leadership landscape has transformed in response to an increasingly complex, diverse and multi-faceted business environment. Questions have also been raised following ethical failures of several high-profile corporates. This new world raises awareness of the varied challenges and demands on organisations and their leaders: with greater consumer awareness and public scrutiny, businesses today are challenged to be transparent and inclusive and their leaders need to model this behaviour. This has created the need to develop a broader, more inclusive idea of leadership for the future.

A Model Of Diverse Leadership

We need more diverse leadership to meet these complex challenges. The Enneagram offers a powerful, developmental framework that does not assume any one style is best but rather highlights the unique gifts and challenges of nine different archetypes of leadership. This powerful framework is helping organisations to identify which leadership types they emphasise or under-recruit, to understand the differing motivators and contributions that different leaders can make. Additionally, it serves as a map to help individual leaders discover their own unique style; a place from which they can lead most effectively. In this model, leaders are invited to discover and leverage their own unique gifts and qualities, to find the strongest possible expression of their own leadership. Shifting leaders’ thinking from “I need to be more like other leaders” to “I need to develop my own superpowers” has been proven to significantly improve energy, impact, influence and results.

What are The 9 Types of Leader?

The Enneagram moves away from traditional one size fits all approaches to describe 9 Types of Leader, each with their own motivational drivers, strengths and challenges…

1Enneagram 1 - Strict Perfectionist

Unique gift: Creates clarity, discipline and structure for their teams and followers. Motivated by principles and a desire to improve the world around them, Type 1 leaders are driven to do the right thing. To them, leadership is about improving, correcting and bringing out the best in their area of focus and influence and they tend to go about doing this by ordering, structuring, clarifying and putting rules or procedures in place. Ones are leaders who try to follow the rules and will expect their followers to do the same. They set high standards for quality of work and apply these standards to themselves and others, striving to achieve sometimes unrealistic levels of perfection. As leaders, Ones often inspire others through their integrity and quality standards, taking responsibility for their actions and role-modelling ethical leadership.

2Enneagram 2 - Considerate Helper

Unique gift: Cares about and supports their team or staff through both successes and challenges. The Type 2 leader is oriented towards others and motivated by connection, creating networks, mentoring, delivering customer service and offering support. Ennea 2 leaders may ‘need to be needed’ and this leads them to tune into the needs and feelings of their team, often becoming developmental leaders who nurture others and build their skills. They pay close attention to the ‘people aspects’ and values of the business and also extend this awareness and attention to the needs of internal or external customers, delivering exceptional service. Their risk is that in the process of tuning into people, they could lose sight of the business goals or find it challenging to make tough decisions.

3Enneagram 3 - Competitive Achiever

Unique gift: Plans for and works towards success, completing tasks and satisfying stakeholders. Motivated by the need to create and add value at all times, the Type 3 leader strives toward success and has a can-do attitude. Threes strive to constantly improve efficiency and are adaptable in the ways that they pursue results, often finding smart ways to reach a goal. Achievers are great mentors and supporters, and help others to shine - their teams and projects are often successful and polished. They have a bias for action and are competitive and goal focused. They come across as driven and self-assured. Relationships, both at work and in their personal lives, may become secondary to their focus on crossing the finish line and these leaders risk emphasising efficiency and productivity over people issues. When they connect with their heart’s desire, authentic Type 3 leaders are unstoppable and can be a force for positive change.

4Enneagram 4 - Intense Creative

Unique gift: Intrinsically motivates people, connecting them to a sense of purpose and meaning. Type 4’s leadership efforts are an extension of their personal vision – being authentic is very important to them. Type 4s have a unique way of doing things and are willing to question existing processes, often leading them to demonstrate an unusual, quirky or innovative leadership style. They thrive when creating and designing projects and want to put their own stamp on their area of the organisation to see their unusual ideas come to life. A Type 4 leader brings sensitivity and comfort because of their emotional intelligence, and followers experience these leaders as being uniquely empathic and able to build strong personal connections. Most Fours have a strong sense of their personal purpose or identity - the work they feel they are meant to do in the world. When they are able to link this sense of personal mission to their leadership, it unleashes their full power as a force for change, focused and passionate about supporting others as they work towards making a profound impact.

5Enneagram 5 - Quiet Specialist

Unique gift: Plans and allocates resources in a rational, strategic and efficient way. Type 5 leaders are often immediately recognised as brilliant thinkers, advisors or even gurus in their field. Motivated by mastery, Type 5 leaders build their influence by accumulating specialised knowledge, strategising, and investigating possibilities. They see connections between ideas and use them to plan a far-reaching course of action. It is not unlike a Type 5 leader to take bold steps to bring their ideas to life. These leaders like to engage with people’s minds and they hope to lead others by sharing their innovative ideas and intellect. They are more comfortable sharing their wisdom than they are opening up personally and might find it difficult to be consistently empathic or warm in their approach. Type 5s have a gift for standing back and seeing systems and situations objectively, making them role models for their ability to innovate and problem-solve using their in-depth insight and their ability to foresee and envision the future.

6Enneagram 6 - Loyal Sceptic

Unique gift: Encourages and models trust, cooperation and collaboration. Type 6 leaders are highly relationship and team-focused, tending to lead as an equal and work cooperatively with others towards shared, mutually beneficial goals. They are aware of the dynamics and interdependence of teams and groups and will often invest their time and energy in teambuilding and consulting with their team on decisions and the best course of action. These leaders tend to be sensitive to the ethical use of power and will often advocate or stand up for the underdog. Motivated by security, the Type 6 leader is a gifted planner, prepared for multiple scenarios and scanning for risk. Loyal Sceptics excel at drilling down to understand all angles, ideas and plans before deciding and may help their team add rigour and clarity to their analysis, thinking and decision making. They are often resilient, courageous and clear in a crisis and others tend to follow their cool, confident lead in emergent situations.

7Enneagram 7 - Enthusiastic Visionary

Unique gift: Sees the big picture and inspires, energises and motivates others to do their best. Enthusiastic and motivated by possibilities, Type 7 leaders excel at getting new things started and can spread their own joy and enthusiasm to others. They have a gift for seeing patterns and possibilities within a system and for synthesising multiple complex inputs or sources of information. These leaders like mental stimulation and are often multi-taskers who keep several balls spinning in the air at once. Type 7s are great at launching projects, using their ability to generate ideas and bringing others on board to get things done, but they may lose steam after the initial excitement. Their ability to hold the team together and motivate others is often welcomed in teams and these leaders come into their own when the chips are down. Their ability to craft a new vision and strategy can help people redirect and re-energise around a fresh strategy and the possibility of a new future.

8Enneagram 8 - Active Controller

Unique gift: Stretches and challenges both themselves and others to deliver extraordinary results. Type 8 leaders bring lots of energy and action – they want to make an impact on their world and are willing to put their whole selves into doing so. Their confident approach makes decisions easy and they use this strength to support and empower others. Eights want to see big things happen and are willing to take big risks. Along with the risk, they are willing to take the heat and responsibility for their decisions. They like to move mountains, are drawn to turnaround situations and will enlist and inspire others to join in the challenge. Type 8s are natural-born leaders who easily step in to take charge, express opinions and carve out a path for others to follow. People who work for Type 8s feel their power and are inspired by their ability to make things happen and stand up to authority. Those who follow this leader feel safe under their protection.

9Enneagram 9 - Adaptive Peacemaker

Unique gift: Stabilises the work environment and creates alignment and coherence for their area. The Type 9 leader appreciates harmony and pays attention to shaping the work environment into a place where people feel comfortable, can cooperate and offer their best work. As a result, their followers tend to find these leaders calm, supportive, not often disruptive and offering them a high degree of respect. They are patient, inclusive leaders who pursue consensus decisions, willing to put in the time to hear all perspectives and seek out the common ground. These leaders often want people to take their own initiative and as a leader they prefer not to take the spotlight, encouraging others to step forward instead. With their ability to integrate multiple different points of view, find commonality between differences and bring stability and calm, these leaders are often especially valued during a difficult change and can help groups move towards win-win solutions.

The Enneagram offers valuable insight into the core beliefs, stories and assumptions that different Types hold about what leadership is and what the world expects from them as leaders. Therefore, the nine different types or flavours of leadership contribute uniquely to their organisations, increasing the organisation’s ability to cater to and leverage off diversity and other challenges and opportunities in the current landscape. The Enneagram offers any Type a roadmap to discover their own unique gifts, enabling them to rise to the challenge of today’s unique leadership demands.

As you continue your leadership development journey, focus on these principles:

  • Know who you are and appreciate the unique leadership gifts you possess
  • Expand your leadership worldview to open up possibilities
  • Leverage your strengths in a measured way (safeguard against them becoming weaknesses)
  • Work with an accredited Enneagram coach to enable deeper exploration of your leadership

Tap into your leadership potential Get your iEQ9 Enneagram Test