The following is a blog written by Type 1: Perfectionist about his wife, Type 7: Enthusiast. People don’t often associate Type 1s with having a great sense of humor. Yet, this man is an award-winning copywriter and has been in the ad business for more years than he wishes to count. He and his wife are both in their mid-70s.
You can see Type 1 fully in his telling of the following tale. Backing Up Is Hard To Do.
My wife has a thorny problem with relations. The spatial ones. When she’s backing up a car, you never stand near it. Because wherever you’re standing, you’re in mortal danger. In the past few years, backing out of our garage, she has collided with four cars parked in our driveway and one innocently parked across from our house on the other side of the street.
It’s as if she were backing up an articulated big-rig vehicle. To go left, you turn the steering wheel right, right? My wife does this in our Honda CRV. In all of these accidents, we have been very fortunate that all she hit was metal. Metal can be repaired or replaced. I shudder to think of what else she could have hit. Like children or animals.
Her lack of spatial-relation skills may be hereditary. Because her sister just backed through a closed garage door. I can picture the medical profession recognizing this as a unique genetic condition: the “backing lacking syndrome.” But maybe it’s not hereditary. I mean, these accidents do require a willful disregard of the obvious.
So to be more empathetic – to see it from her point of view – I mentally reproduce the scene. I open the kitchen door leading to the garage. I press the remotely operated garage door. I walk towards the street between our two garaged cars.
Now I am outside the garage, facing the other car or cars hypothetically parked in the driveway. Next I turn and go to the left side of the CRV, open the driver’s door and get in. Obvious conclusion: My wife had to see any car parked in the driveway. And then in the next second forget about it (please don’t tell me it’s Alzheimer’s!) and swerve, backing into it! This could be the first case of Spatial Confusion complicated by Alzheimer’s? What will doctors call it? Dyslexic Dementia?
Today’s post was originally published on the Lead Change Group blog in 2012.
A recent Forbes article: 31 Telltale Signs You Are A Horrible Boss got me thinking and it inspired this post. Many of us will recognize our former or present bosses described there and, worse yet, we may recognize ourselves!
I began to wonder what happens to someone when they become a boss?
Which led to … do we need to have bosses?
What practical function do they provide and do the negatives outweigh the benefits?
If you become a mom, dad, grandparent, policeman or policewoman and you step into that skin and/or uniform, you take on a role. That role is informed by your perception of what it means to be a mom. How you have experienced others in that role, and even wearing the uniform shifts your sense of self and effects how you play your role.
Recently, my friend Joan asked a friend of hers to become godfather to her son Daniel. She described a big shift in his behavior. He stepped up and took on the responsibility and the role. His subsequent relationship to my friend and her son changed noticeably.
When someone takes on the moniker “boss” he begins to embody his perception and definition of what it means to be a boss and takes on that role as he interprets it. “I am here to boss you around,” could be one interpretation, along with many others.
Think about how the word immediately sets up a power dynamic and a parent/child relationship.
Boss is synonymous with authority figure and the role presumes that people need to be told what to do, punishments and rewards should be meted out.
Remember the Stanford Prison experiment? It was a simulation where the prison guards became sadistic and the prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. When people took on the roles they began to do, say, and feel things that were congruent with the roles they were playing. It got so bad, they had to end the experiment after six days.
So I continued to wonder, “What necessary functions does a boss serve and could those functions be served in another way?”
The most valuable things my former bosses did was to share information from above and across the organization; to set the vision and direction; to jointly set my goals and objectives; to advocate for me and my ideas; to make sure I got salary increases and bonuses; to approve vacation dates.
My former bosses also held me accountable to honor my agreements and commitments, to adhere to the organization’s ethics and standards and to be the best I could be.
One of the most unnecessary functions they performed was the annual performance review. By the time I got my review, the information was so stale, it grew mold and had to be tossed.
A comprehensive list of destructive boss behaviors can be found in the Forbes article. If the list weren’t so real and tragic, it would be funny.
Ideally, bosses are available to advise and give council, to sooth and encourage, to help build confidence, to motivate and inspire. Ideally a boss is someone who is wise and transmits that wisdom to help their direct reports develop, grow and thrive both personally and professionally.
If part of the problem is the title Boss / Manager, I continued to wonder, what alternative is there?
In Greek mythology, in his old age Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who placed Mentor in charge of his son Telemachus and of Odysseus’ palace, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War.
When Athena visited Telemachus she took the disguise of Mentor to hide herself from the suitors of Telemachus’ mother Penelope.
Because of Mentor’s relationship with Telemachus, and the disguised Athena’s encouragement and practical plans for dealing with dilemmas, the name Mentor has been adopted in English as a term meaning someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague.
Mentor suggests a type of relationship: I am here for you. I am here to help you develop and grow. I trust that you are fully capable of doing your job. I know you will rise to my high expectations of you. I will model the way by my words and behaviors. Come to me when you need advice, counseling, guidance.
A mentor sponsors, supports, nurtures and advises.
A mentor is a wise and trusted ‘counselor’ who passes on knowledge, experience and wisdom and who opens doors to opportunities that may otherwise be out of reach.
I am aware that there are certain leadership styles for which the role of mentor would be more challenging than for others. Take, for example, someone who is prone to have an autocratic style. 
However, I do believe that if the title and role was mentor, even someone with autocratic tendencies might start to adopt a different set of behaviors–perhaps with some coaching. Just by the change in title, it sets up a whole other set of expectations with associated behaviors.
What kind of organizational and individual changes can you imagine as a result of this?
Perhaps you’ve seen this or a similar model implemented?
Please comment, engage and share!
 You can review the nine Enneagram Styles to see the different approaches to leadership and how they might warm to and/or be challenged by the role.
It addresses some of the experiments around self-managed teams and takes a different but complimentary tack to my post.
Marissa Mayer, newly appointed CEO of Yahoo, announced she was pregnant just after her appointment. Could she take on the turnaround of Yahoo and be a “good mom?” Would one or both suffer? Would she really want to return to work just after the birth? And on … Endless speculation by the media.
These questions were widely discussed and debated in the social media as well, via blogs, Twitter, Linkedin discussions, Facebook, etc. Marissa was just listed in Forbes Magazine as among “The Most Fascinating Women of 2012.”
The announcement about her pregnancy stirred up sentiments about the implications for her ability to right the Yahoo ship and be a first-time mom, all at the same time. Women weighed in heavily.
Last week, I watched CNN International broadcast an interview with Marissa, and she impressed me. The CNN international newscasters had some repartee after airing the interview. The female newscaster’s comment was something to the effect of, “You could tell her analogy to Vince Lombardi was rehearsed.”
Is that all she could say about this young woman who has taken on a huge turnaround responsibility, is under the glare of the spot light and tremendous pressure while bringing a new child into the world? It was petty.
These are subtle/not so subtle ways that women undermine each other. Would she have made the same comment about a man? Where was the awe? This young woman has demonstrated tremendous courage by taking on such a huge responsibility and challenge, while knowing she would be under the microscope and have to endure endless criticism, second-guessing, critique and commentary about her every move.
Interestingly, the male newscaster who reported the story came to Melissa’s defense and said something like, “Of course, at her level she will have had these lines rehearsed.” And he was right.
I am all for critiquing, but just to find something to pick at and criticize smacks of undermining. Until this point, I had enjoyed this particular newscaster. In her defense, some of this stuff is so insidious, we don’t realize we are doing it. But we are.
Women’s leadership means giving a hand up, mentoring, supporting, building up … not tearing down. How are we going to make it, break the glass ceiling and help bring our world back into balance without caring about and for one another?
There are a ton of women’s organizations, Linkedin groups, radio shows, TV shows, etc., who purport to all about women, yet I see some of the same undermining going on in many of these groups as well.
Perhaps first, we have to accept that this is our human condition. Maybe it’s some kind of human survival urge. We need to be aware of our tendency to compete in some subtle and not so subtle ways. Then, we must commit to transcend it. Our survival, in fact is going to count on all of us pulling together, not tearing each other down. With awareness, we have the possibility to alter the way we act and interact … to gently lean into our very human tendencies rather then play them out. And evolve.
I offer this as a possibility for hope:
The next time you see one of your friends or colleagues doing well, succeeding against the odds, just sprouting new courage–find ways to support them. Tell them how amazed you are by their strength and courage. Tell them how you see them, in the best possible light. It will put fuel in their tank to carry on … and you know what? It will make you feel really good too.
Even in a business context, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “What would be a compatible Enneagram Type for my Type?” Love relationships confound the best of us and no one seems to have the secret sauce to produce that ideal relationship.
People are willing to spend quantities of money on therapy, books, dating sites that sort compatibility, workshops that promise to help you better understand and untangle relationships to find the perfect mate.
Relationships occupy a huge part of our time, focus and attention. They remain one of life’s great mysteries.
Can the Enneagram help? “Is there a most compatible Type for me?” you ask.
Yes, the Enneagram can help, and “no” in my experience there is no perfect match for each Type. If you go by Harville Hendrix’s theory, we unconsciously choose mates to help us heal childhood wounds with one or both of our parents (or caregivers).
We choose mates for other reasons as well …
- We choose them because they are easy and familiar.
- We choose them because we have something to learn from the other Type.
- We choose them because we have an underdeveloped part of us that is crying out to grow and evolve.
- We choose our complement.
Another factor that affects who we choose and attract may have something to do with our stage of development in life. One woman I know (Type 6, Loyal Skeptic) was married to a Type 9, Peacemaker. Her second husband was a Type 8, Boss. I also know a Type 8 whose third marriage was to aType 8.
I find people often choose Types that are one of their Enneagram Type’s connection points. For instance, I see many 6/9, 7/1, 2/8 Type pairings. There is something we need to learn from our two connecting points.
Additionally, the more outwardly confident, assertive Types (3,7,8) and the more socially withdrawn Types 4/5/9 (The Hornevian Types ala Karen Horney) magnetize one another.
Let’s look at an example of a Type pairing that does not fall under any of the aforementioned qualifiers, yet I have encountered several of these pairs in love and business relationships (excerpt from the section Dynamics and Distinctions in my book InsideOut Enneagram):
Type 6 The Loyal Skeptic and and Type 8 The Boss
Type 6s like to be protected and feel safe, and Type 8s like to protect. Type 6 can be very loyal, and Type 8 demands loyalty. Both Types are very active and busy. Type 8s have a more focused and intentional way of being active, while Type 6s keep busy trying to allay their own anxiety. Both can accomplish a great deal when they work in tandem.
As long as Type 6s are willing to follow Type 8s’ lead, the two can make a great team. Type 8s are big risk takers, and Type 6s will do what it takes to help Type 8s in their endeavors, all the while warning about what could go wrong. Type 6s have ideas but fear taking the necessary risks to make them a reality. When Type 6s know that Type 8s are standing there, ready to catch them if they fall, Type 6s feel safe taking risks.
Type 8s are impulsive and act before fully thinking things through and weighing the potential consequences. Type 6s can be very helpful to Type 8s by looking at worst-case scenarios and potential pitfalls, as well as creating back-up plans. Type 8s are full steam ahead, and Type 6s pay attention to the dangerous creatures lurking below that can trip up the best-laid plans of Type 8s. Type 6s are skilled at preparing for eventualities that may come. Because Type 8s are very direct and clear about who they are, where they stand, and what they want, they tend to build trust with Type 6s quickly.
Type 8s can learn to pay more attention to the potential downsides of their actions and plans, and to manage to them. Type 6s are gifted at making plans, preparation, and research, and bring intellectual rigor. If Type 8s don’t choose to develop those abilities, they will value Type 6s’ contribution to their endeavors.
Type 6s’ areas for growth include self-confidence, the courage to take action on their ideas, and being less risk adverse—all qualities that Type 8s have in spades. Type 8s trust their gut instincts, and while Type 6s may be aware of their instincts, the voices of self-doubt and “should” usually win. Type 8s have something to teach Type 6s about listening to, trusting, and acting on their instincts. Type 6s can teach Type 8s about humility, to slow down and look at the potential consequences of their actions.
In order to individuate, as Carl Jung called it we begin to develop these underdeveloped parts of ourselves rather than believe we can get safety, protection, acceptance, focus, discipline, containment, vitality, loyalty, trust, etc., from someone else. Ultimately, we can provide these things for ourselves and become more whole.
The bottom line: we can partner with any Type. Critical in all of this is to remember your reactions are 100% about you. Your partner is a wonderful mirror for you to see yourself more clearly, if you are willing to look.