On your leadership and life journey, an essential travel companion is your curiosity.
When you invite curiosity to join you on your journey, your defenses drop, your inner critic subsides, your “I know” or “I should know” is no longer such a dominant voice. Your openness and availability to others and yourself grows and deepens. As it does, you feel drawn further and further along to what is around the next bend.
Questions you can ask yourself and others to invite curiosity are:
I wonder … “Why do I believe that?” “Is it true?” “Why did I do that?” “When did I stop doing that?” “How do other people experience me?” “What if I/we could … ?” “What do you think of that?” “Tell me more … ” “What is behind the question (being asked of me)?” “When did you notice?” “What can I/we learn from … ?” “How might I/we …?” “Is it possible that/to …?”
These are some of the undefended questions that curiosity asks.
Curiosity doesn’t judge, criticize, critique, or have answers. Curiosity is living the questions until the insights appear. Curiosity notices, is awake and aware. Curiosity takes an interest in what and who is around it and asks, “What can I learn from you?” Curiosity moves toward, not away from.
Curiosity is a bridge to the unknown.
Curiosity asks a question for clarification before reacting or responding—and we usually find out that we are reacting to something that we project onto the other person rather than what is really there.
Curiosity invites connection, ideas, innovation, intuition.
If you are a leader, curiosity is one of your most trusted allies. It will take you far.
Curiosity is interested in subtlety. It is the doorway to being present and available to yourself and for others. It will guide you to your insights, your deepest longings, and back to your true self.
This is an excerpt from my book: InsideOut Enneagram: The Game-Changing Guide for Leaders and includes specific practices to bring more your curiosity your inner and outer conversations.
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.
I’d like to share a success story. It’s a case study of a leader and team that soared, how they did it and the specific results they achieved.
I had the privilege of coaching and consulting to a health care department (made up of four teams) for two years. Personally, I had very high satisfaction because I was able to work with the team step-by-step and witness their evolution and the gains they sustained over an extended period of time.
The situation: As luck would have it, the department chief, Dr. Chan and the department manager, Janice were both newly appointed and highly motivated. Dr. Chan was open to learn, willing, and dedicated. He was not a charismatic leader but he was respected for his technical skills. He was known as responsible and reliable and therefore had earned some trust going into his new role. By dedicating resources to the team’s development and education, he demonstrated his commitment to the team.
The department’s physical work environment was antiquated and cramped. Although they had been promised a new clinic for several years, there was no new construction on the horizon.
Metrics: The department was measured quarterly in five key areas against 18 other like-departments within the organization.
- Employee Satisfaction
- Service / Customer satisfaction
- Access to care
They occupied the bottom 1-3 positions Service / Customer Service metric for a few years running. Additionally, they broke records for workers comp claims and sick days. There was team divisiveness. And as you might imagine low employee satisfaction.
Recruiting for new hires was tough because of its reputation as a dysfunctional place to work and the cramped and inadequate working conditions. There was high turnover, they were continually short-staffed, all of this adding to their stress and job dissatisfaction.
So let me get to the punch line now. As a result of effective leadership, this department pulled together, soared to the number one position and stayed there for several consecutive quarters. Last I checked, they were still the top performers after two years.
- They became Service Stars
- Employee satisfaction improved significantly
- Quality Maintained
- Access Targets Met and Maintained
- Efficiency Increased
- Lowered cost of care
- New workers’ Comp claims reduced
- Absenteeism reduced significantly
If you want to know how we did it, read on …
What were the conditions for success?
- Dept. leadership agreed that change was needed
- Dept. leadership agreed to commit to team development for the duration
- Dept. leadership secured sponsorship of Medical Center administration
- Dept. leadership and medical center administration alignment
- Secured OD consultant and coach resource for ongoing leader and team development
What did we do?
I did a department-wide assessment, wrote up my findings and proposed a plan of action. Together with the department chief and manager we formed a plan to engage and involve the entire department in developing a vision, goals and strategy. Dr. Chan and Janice agreed to commit to three department offsite meetings per year, monthly team meetings and weekly department leadership meetings. We added a two more members to the leadership team: the chief of service and physician communication, and the labor partner.
Based upon the assessment, the focus for team development was to:
- build trust by:
- getting to know themselves and each other better
- using diversity as strengths
- learning to communication effectively
- learning to collaborate
- engaging in healthy and productive conflict
- learn how to make decisions together
- hold each other accountable
- learn how to run effective meetings
- have fun together
Together, they built a department culture to engender
- Open communication
- High involvement and engagement
- Collaborative problem solving
- Consensus building
- Labor / Management collaboration
- Celebration of success
- Reward and recognition
The leadership behaviors that contributed to the overall success of this department are not necessarily the ones you hear about. Dr. Chan was fairly quiet and unassuming, he was humble and he was open and willing to learn. Janice was a bit of a maverick, optimistic, creative and extroverted. They aligned and stayed in sync so that nobody could work one against the other. They both demonstrated caring and warmth. Despite his discomfort, Dr. Chan learned to confront the disruptors.
By dedicating resources to team development and agreeing to implement decisions generated by the department, they both demonstrated a commitment to change.
With skin in the game, they built trust with staff and administration. As administration witnessed the results of their focus on team development, they continued to resource it. This department was recognized for their successes within the medical center and across the region.
We didn’t do anything fancy, there was no charismatic leader, and Steve Jobs was not needed for this assignment. They used leadership basics, and that goes a long, long way.
Engage and involve your people, give them an opportunity to influence business operations and make a difference. Surface the wisdom of your team collectively and individually.
Take care of your people and they’ll care for each other and the customers.
Build team trust–that is the foundation for everything else. That singular focus had a positive and lasting impact on all the metrics.
Your two greatest assets: The way you lead and your team. These are your key leverage points to shift the system and change everything.
Does this sound familiar? Love to hear your comments!
I was gratified to hear the president of the American Management Association say, “We expect leader-like behavior from many many more people in today’s organizations.”And It turns out that the American military has begun to train leaders to lead by intent rather than lead by being prescriptive.
In psychological theory, Carl Jung called this process of getting to know ourselves; of bringing our unconscious material to light, the process of individuation. It is the journey of human evolution.
Individuation means that we embrace all that we are, (individually and collectively) and become brave enough to take off our defensive armor and go exploring like the hero of myth and story.
Individuation builds our capacity to see ourselves and each other for all our attributes, complexities and creative gifts as well as our messier, perhaps less preferred character traits.
This process of individuation also applies to the development of teams–to create leader-full teams. More on that shortly.
The most well known team development model is: forming / storming / norming / performing
Many teams get stuck and never move beyond the forming / storming phase. Why? A key contributor is that most of us walk around with an unconscious assumption that people see what we see, perceive what we perceive, hear what we hear, and think like we think. If they don’t, they damn well should.
We have to get beyond this to tap into the team’s creativity and unlock the doors to innovation.
The most effective way I have found to address the “be like me” syndrome is to use the Enneagram system with teams.
When people discover their Type and learn each other’s Types, it opens the windows of perception. People begin to see the value of differences.
I love seeing flashes of insight when team members “get” that people are different from them and perceive the world differently. In these precious moments, we learn to listen differently, “see” through a wide angle lens, and begin to appreciate differing world views and individual attributes.
In these moments we begin to understand one another and to better understand ourselves.
Then the real work begins. The team needs to develop its muscle to integrate the differences and leverage them for performance. Differences can tear us apart if we judge them or we can harness their strengths.
Individuation (the process of differentiation and integration) needs to take place at both the individual and team level.
Our self-awareness and self-management can strengthen group effectiveness.
The brain is an open loop system; in other words, it is not just an organ that resides in our heads. We activate each other’s triggers and moods catch like the flu.
Think of a time you entered a group and were feeling positive and upbeat. After awhile, you noticed that people were complaining and their energy was lack luster and disengaged. How long did it take before you started feeling the same?
Less aware individuals contribute to an unhealthy team environment. An unhealthy team environment can take down some of the healthiest individual players–or they leave.
Individual development aids team development and vice-versa. They feed each other.
The beauty of working with the Enneagram for team development is that it brings to light key underlying drivers for our habitual patterns of interacting, thinking, feeling and acting. It uncovers team strengths to be harnessed and liabilities to be managed. We get to know ourselves and each other in ways we never imagined.
If you can’t see it and acknowledge it,
you can’t manage it
Once we surface some of our patterns, we can begin to unravel them and develop new ways of interacting and acting. We can take concrete steps to develop new ways of being–individually and as a team.
Now we’ve entered Norming / Performing–until the new team members join, and then we start again … Teams are a bit amoeba-like, constantly forming and reforming; reintegrating and differentiating. And so are we, if we are committed to learn, grow and evolve.
Leader-full teams are teams made up of people who take responsibility for their work, their words and their actions. They are committed to grow and evolve. The person in authority (read, Boss), needs to create an environment where people can learn and grow and make a difference that matters; where each person can contribute their unique gifts and talents.
I just heard Robert Tobias, American University speak about leadership development. He said:
There is a necessity for leaders to develop their inner life—to challenge themselves to become who they are and be relationally transparent—that is, to become authentic and to care.
I’d love to hear how you help grow leader-full teams. Please weigh in and join the conversation!
On a recent hike with friends I mentioned, “Usually I see ‘heart rocks’ when I am walking, but I haven’t been paying attention today.” No sooner had those words left my mouth, when we all noticed a heart-shaped rock on the trail ahead.
Today I set my attention on finding heart rocks. I saw at least 10.
What we pay attention to, we amplify. Our focus shifts and we begin to see what was there all along, while our attention was elsewhere.
Have you ever had the experience of something (a word, a concept, a brand …) brought to your attention, and immediately you notice it everywhere? Did you wonder whether it was synchronicity? Perhaps something you were unaware of before is now in your field of vision?
There are Two Essential Ways of Being for leaders that motivate their followers, help bring out their best and help them see beyond what they think is possible:
- Pay attention to your seeing. What you focus on, you amplify.
- Where is your focus of attention? Is it on problems, what’s wrong, what’s not working … do you easily find fault with others?
- If we focus on problems, what’s not working or someone’s annoying character traits–that is what we see and we often see it to the exclusion of other things. We see more problems, more of the character traits we expect, more …
- Problems start to grow
Several years ago, I lead a meeting to improve the interactions, information and patient flow and overall processes between in-patient and out-patient OBGyn and Maternity.
The group began to identify all of the ways the processes didn’t work, all of the problems, patient complaints, MD complaints, and on … until someone finally said, “What are we doing?” Great question.
The group vitality and energy had been sucked right out of the room. We created a list of problems and issues vast enough to overwhelm the best of us.
In a moment of inspiration, I restarted the conversation by asking, “If you could create your ideal department with smooth transitions, rewarding interactions, satisfied members, patients and physicians and you were highly motivated and happy at work, what would would be going on? What would you see, do, hear; what would be in place in terms of process and flow?”
The group energy soared! The wall was full of sticky notes. Ideas and associated actions to further develop the ideas, had been generated. When the meeting ended, we were poised to join the physicians the next day and build on the work we did together. As we began to leave the room, someone turned to me and said, “What did you just do?”
2. People live up (or down) to your expectations of them.
- This goes for how leaders act toward and view others as well as how others act toward and view people in positions of authority. Remember the Pygmalion Effect?
In their study, Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson (1968) set out to demonstrate that our reality can be influenced by other’s expectations and set up self-fulfilling prophecies. Their research demonstrated that if teachers expected a higher performance from some children rather than others, those children did, in fact rise to their expectations. Rosenthal identified four ways teachers behaved differently towards the students for whom they had more favorable expectations:
- They created a warmer climate. They are nicer in the things they say and also in the non-verbal channels of communication
- Input. They teach more material to students for whom they have more favorable expectations
- Response / Opportunity. They call on these students more often and let them talk longer. The teachers help and shape the responses with them and help the student articulate the response.
- Feedback. If more is expected of a student, the student is praised more for giving a “good answer.” These students receive more positive feedback. Interestingly, the teacher will accept a lower quality response from these students.
Now let’s connect these two human tendencies and see how we can shift our focus and actions:
- Pay attention to your seeing. What you focus on, you amplify.
- People live up (or down) to your expectations of them.
Suggestion: Seek out the best in others and give feedback accordingly. Dr Lois P. Frankel, author of See Jane Lead, wrote about the 7:1 rule:
Give people seven pieces of positive feedback for every developmental criticism.
Most of us avoid giving developmental criticism and when we finally do, it is unplanned and ends up coming out as sharp, blunt or abrupt. OR we give feedback without specific suggestions or an offer of assistance to develop the desired behavior. OR we behave in ways that let people know we disapprove or are dissatisfied, and then leave them guessing.
From personal experience, it feels so delicious and rewarding when I offer positive, authentic feedback. I found this to be largely true for both for the giver and the recipient. You are in essence, filling up their tank with jet fuel when the recipient feels seen and valued.
Experiment: Look for the inherent gifts, the positive in someone who pushes your buttons, someone you don’t like, someone who you believe is a low performer. Then give authentic, positive feedback to that person. Notice how you feel and how that person responds. See what happens over time.
Do you treat certain people differentially in meetings? What can you do to shift that? See what happens when you do?
So what is in your line of sight? What are you paying attention to? Shift your focus and see what happens. On your next outing, look for hearts in nature. You don’t have to search, just pay attention. You’ll see …
Whether you are in a position of leadership or lead from your position, being the bamboo is critical to your ability to influence and effectively lead your team, your organization and your life.
Why? Here is what we know about bamboo and what that has to do with leadership:
Bamboo is fast growing. Are you? Are you growing your self-understanding and understanding of others and the world around you or are you convinced of your rightness and that you have nothing new to learn?
Bamboo is versatile. It can be used to make clothing, flooring, scaffolding, as food, and it has medicinal purposes. How versatile are you? Do you pop into different situations and deploy your skills and abilities equally well? Do you speak to different audiences (staff, peers, superiors) and craft your message for their frame of reference–what matters to them?
Bamboo is hollow inside. Are you open to new information? Are you open to new points of view? Or are you so filled with your own thoughts and ideas that you have no room for others?
Are you open-hearted? The center of the bamboo is considered its heart.
Bamboo is firmly rooted, yet flexible and yields to the wind. How flexible are you? Do you shift your response with agility to differing circumstances to get the best result? OR do you react habitually rather than respond to the context?
Are you able weather the storm? OR are you rigid and unyielding? Do you break easily?
Are you firmly rooted? Are you able to stay grounded, solid and directed? Or do you get excited by the new and blown off course like a tumbleweed?
Do you continually change course and direction? Are you scattered and unfocused? Do you get excited by beginnings and lack follow-through?
Bamboo is used to create boundaries. How in tact are your own boundaries? Do people walk all over you? Do you invite people in when you know they’ll do harm? Do you invite feedback or accept feedback when you know that it comes from someone who has a specific agenda with you? Do you say “yes” and “no” and mean both? Do you over extend to the point of exhaustion? Do you feel used?
Or are you boundaries so rigid that you are unwilling to let people into your life and you don’t let others get to know you?
Bamboo is resilient. It is resistant to most bacteria. It’s a real survivor. How resilient are you? When you fail at something or something doesn’t go your way, do you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward? Do you learn from past failures and disappointments?
Bamboo replicates quickly. Do you share your wisdom, knowledge, experience and information so that others can grow and benefit? Or do you guard what you know out of fear that others will leapfrog you, use the information and become more successful than you? Or do you guard what you know out of fear that … ?
A Vietnamese proverb says: “When the bamboo is old, the bamboo sprouts appear” Wikipedia
Do you plan for your succession and build a strong team even if those team members may outshine you? How quickly do you replicate your own brilliance so that others may shine?
How can you be a Bamboo Leader? Here is just one important example:
Seek to understand before being understood
Listen to someone who appears to have a differing viewpoint, really listen. Sit on your verbal hands. Become curious about how this person sees the world and how s/he has arrived at her/his point of view.
Listen in at the same time you are listening out.
Notice when you find yourself disagreeing, when you want to interrupt to make a counter point, when you are saying to yourself, “What an idiot, that’s ridiculous …” Gently let those voices go. Return to the part of you that is curious and intent on understanding the other.
Be a generous listener. The bamboo leader doesn’t have to take another’s point of view as their own, but she can bend toward the other. Generous listening can yield to a generative conversation. Imagine what could result!
This type of listening demonstrates confidence, openness, flexibility, humility and caring. It is also a sign of respect.
This type of listening builds a bridge toward the other. You can still be firmly rooted and not lose yourself. But you may find yourself changed by listening.
I am afraid to listen, because if I listen, I might understand and be changed by that understanding.- Carl Rogers
Yes, you just might be influenced to change, modify or amplify your point of view. If you are afraid of that, perhaps you are not as certain as you’d like to believe you are about your position? Perhaps you are attached to being right and to holding onto unexamined, but longstanding beliefs?
Bamboo is a great metaphor for leadership. Remember to take time for your own growth and development, to be versatile, to be firmly rooted yet yielding, to be resilient, to manage your boundaries, to be open-hearted and open to learn, and to help others grow and shine.
I hope this post was thought provoking.
Please take a moment to comment and let me know what this post stirred up in you!
It has almost become cliché to say that we are living in times of uncertainty. Our global economic situation is unstable and highly complex, weather has become more extreme and the speed of change leaves many of us breathless.
Life has always been uncertain, but it is more obvious now. Uncertainty and change arouse fear and anxiety in most of us, whether we are aware if it or not, and when we are fearful our stress level increases. Long-term stress creates dis-ease.
As a leader, you know you can use the power of communication to influence the people you lead. But did you know that through your communication, you can improve their health, reduce their stress and increase their vitality and energy?
Do you want to know how? Then continue reading.
There is a field of study called Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) that looks at the impact of our emotions working on our body. As it turns out, the immune system and the brain talk to each other.
For example, research shows that when doctors truly care about patients, patients perceive it (consciously and subconsciously). When they feel cared for and cared about, people who are ill get rid of infections faster and their wounds heal more quickly. People feel vulnerable when they are ill. They are uncertain, scared and are trying to navigate complex systems to receive appropriate care.
While leaders aren’t MDs dealing with patients, all organizations are dealing with uncertainty, complexity and rapid change, and that means leaders need to help people in their organization cope.
What are the two things leaders must do to effectively lead during times of uncertainty, complexity and change?
- Build Trust
- Build Confidence and Offer Hope
Surprised? Let’s unpack these two things.
Trust—Here we are talking about two kinds of trust:
- Technical trust. Do I trust that you know what you’re doing? Do you have the technical skills and background – the experience to lead us?
- Trust that you care about my wellbeing. Do I trust that you care about me as a person-that my wellbeing matters to you? Do I trust that you truly care about my needs? How approachable are you? Are you understanding?
Trust is crucial in a time of uncertainty and change and when dealing with complexity. Why? When we treat people with understanding and caring, we build an emotional bond. This releases oxytocin — an essential hormone for controlling fear. Stress decreases, blood pressure lowers and the immune system becomes stronger.
Build Confidence and Offer Hope—It is essential for leaders to inspire confidence that together we have the capacities and abilities to surmount obstacles and successfully take on challenges; that we have the resources and talents; that we can do it and we will succeed. When leaders build confidence, it grows connections in people’s brains.
How does this work? When people feel they can overcome obstacles and whatever is thrown their way, you see changes in the blood flow to the brain. When there is increased blood flow inside the brain, the neurons function more effectively. They get more glucose and oxygen. These neurons start connecting differently.
New neurons are also created – stem cells potentiate and become neurons. Therefore, when we increase trust during uncertainty and change, we increase neuroplasticity—the brain changes. New neurons are essential to control our fear and to enable rapid learning. Increasing trust decreases uncertainty.
Imagine for a moment being lead by someone who did these two things. What would it be like to be lead by someone who believed in you—your capacities and talents; someone who you felt cared about your wellbeing … who understood you?
People need to know they and the organization are in good, capable hands and that you care about them, first as human beings–not just as a means to meet business and financial goals.
This shift in mindset and behavior is to one of building trust and away from inciting fear; to help people in your organization reach beyond what they believe they are capable of and to give them hope about the future. The Leadershift is to approach people with an empathic heart and a sense of awe, wonder, and humility about what it means to be human.
This blog post was inspired by Mario Alonso Puig, a surgeon and fellow at Harvard Medical School. As serendipity would have it, I was sent a link to a video by Dr. Puig where he describes the healing power that comes from the bond developed between doctor and patient.
Several years ago, I co-facilitated a course called Patient Physician Interaction for all incoming MDs at a major healthcare organization. Two of the key components we taught were, how to develop rapport and demonstrate empathy. We know that patient visits run more quickly and smoothly and that greater patient compliance results when there is a connection between the MD or care provider and the patient. The patient feels heard and understood and the MD demonstrates listening and caring. What we didn’t teach was that the bond between MD and patient actually has healing powers.
I don’t know how it happened. Somewhere along the way, many have come to believe that if you are an artist or performer, you are likely Type 4 –The Individualist.
Or, if you are not artistic or a performer, then you can’t be a Type 4. Often clients come to me with one of these two myths. This blog is an attempt to debunk these myths.
Type 4s I know are lawyers, accountants, pediatricians, administrative assistants, social workers, psychologists / therapists, coaches, consultants, full-time moms, and yes–artists and performers.
In other words, your Type does not define your profession. It will shape your approach to your profession, however. Type 4s take a creative approach to whatever they do–never to be mundane or boring, they will put their own unique stamp on their work and bring sensitivity to their chosen profession.
Any of you who know Type 4s or are Type 4s, please remember, you don’t have to be talented in the arts.
What distinguishes one Type from another is not one’s profession or behaviors, but the underlying motivations that drive these behaviors.
One of the core compulsions that drive Type 4 behavior is Envy. More often than not, when I conduct a Typing interview with Type 4s, they don’t immediately relate to Envy. When we talk about how Envy manifests as a keen focus of attention on “what’s missing,” or “what’s wrong with X (something I have) and better about Y (something I don’t have and others do).” Type 4s can see this in themselves much more easily.
If you were observing Type 4, what might you hear him or her say?
On a perfectly gorgeous day, “Yes, but it’s too hot. The humidity makes me sweat. My back hurts. I prefer the weather in Switzerland and would rather live there,” OR upon visiting one of two similar underground caves, “I enjoyed this one, but the other one had that underground lake …” OR “Why do you seem to have so many friends and I don’t,” OR “John just got a promotion, what’s wrong with me?” OR “Maybe I should move to Hawaii. Jerry is there and he seems happy.” “If only … then I would be …”
Experiences and people often don’t measure up. Type 4 longs for an ideal: day, place to live, job, career, mate, etc.
Type 4s long for what they perceive others have and they don’t–which often translates to happiness. They have a hard time appreciating what they do have because their focus is elsewhere. This accounts for the longing Type 4s experience and for much of the suffering they create for themselves.
There lives in each of us a Type 4, so for the Type 4 in all of us, be present–here and now. Notice the amazing world right in front of you–the extraordinary in the ordinary–and remember, suffering is optional (even if it is familiar and comfortable).
Are you Type 4 or do you work with Type 4s? Please join the conversation and enrich the conversation.
Newly included in my posts is artwork by David Templeton–an amazing artist and musician living in Deia, Mallorca. To learn more about David and his art, click here.
A leader’s credibility stands on three legs: Knowing, Doing, and Being. Yet the power of our “state of being” as a leader or what I call “showing up” is often conveniently overlooked because it asks the leader to be vulnerable and to grow as a human being.
Vulnerable is a word that many leaders abhor. To a leader, it can sound weak and unsafe. Let’s unpack this misunderstood word. What does it look like when leaders “show’s up” as vulnerable?
- We are willing to say, “I don’t know”
- We invite others to challenge our ideas and plans
- We are willing to be influenced
- We engage and involve appropriately
- We ask for help
- We admit that things we’ve said and done could have been said and done differently
- We listen and learn rather than need to be the one with all of the answers
- We look inside–we can see that we have unproductive behaviors and are willing to learn new ways — to make changes
This is power. Power lies in vulnerability. Yet to be an effective leader requires that we access this power in order to be able to influence others to take action toward an uncertain future, or to rally and focus the team amidst crisis.
And so, taking our leadership effectiveness to the next level – from good to great – entails becoming more fully who we are. The nature of our personality structures as humans, however, tends to get in the way of our best, highest, most powerful self.
Our personality structure consists of many parts that we invented unconsciously as we grew up, in reaction to our environment and upbringing. And we are predisposed to a particular array of coping strategies and based on our Enneagram Type in large part.
As in any team, these individual member parts of us are well intended, but each has its own agenda, beliefs, stories, and fears. Each believes it knows what is best for the team, and will do all it can to control the outcome to that end.
Who is to lead the team, then?
Every person has at his or her core Self, sometimes referred to as higher, essential, or True Self that is different from the parts. It is whole and contains all the parts. It is indestructible and always available. It is not defined by the things we own or the roles we fulfill.
The Self is the place from which we can observe, experience, and interact with the parts, others, and the world.
This Self is the source of leadership to manage the often-unruly inner team of reactive parts. And when you lead from Self, it inspires and gives permission to others to connect with their deeper wisdom as well.
How do we access Self and build relationships with and learn to lead our inner team? I have found the Enneagram blended with Internal Family Systems to be a very effective and insightful approach.
What is Internal Family Systems (IFS)?
Drew Dougherty of Leadership DNA and I will be co-leading the next Insight to Action workshop July 18 on IFS and the Enneagram. Here’s what Drew had to say:
“Parts work”, or Internal Family Systems (IFS), makes available a path to leadership of your inner team that mirrors the path to effectively leading any team. It lies in forging a relationship with the team members, based on respect, acceptance, and dialog (not judgment, or forcing). Read more about what what Drew has to say here.
And you? How do you work with your inner team or your client’s inner team?
Awhile back, I worked with an organization that wanted to engender a more self-aware culture of leaders. We did a large-scale implementation of the Enneagram as part of that effort. Our work culminated with a workshop for everyone in the organization.
Set the scene
Each Enneagram Type group presents themselves to the rest of the organization in anyway they see fit. The only rule is a time limit. Move the clock forward to the Type 7 Group’s presentation. It was wild. They created a wonderful, uplifting, high-energy event that produced a large piece of art. We all cheered, laughed and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The Type 7 group sat down.
In the middle of the room, on the floor, a very large section of butcher-block paper was left, along with tubes of paint, brushes and various other art supplies. It was Type 8 group’s turn and they were faced with this mess in the room and had no place to give their performance.
Without a word, just eye contact and body language, they stood up, walked to the center of the room, put all of the supplies on top of the paper, picked it up and crumpled it all together and dropped it at the feet of the Type 7 group. Again, without a word being spoken. This was not planned.
Type 2’s chimed in and said they would have cleaned up the mess for them. Type 8s wanted the 7s to clean up their own mess and asserted their position by laying it at their feet.
Roll the tape forward to a live situation
A team in trouble: Two Type 8s (Carmen and Margaret), one Type 7 (Ralph), one Type 2 (Justine), one Type 4 (Ingrid) and one Type 9 (Lincoln). Without going into the story, let’s just say it centers around a relationship between Carmen (8) and Ralph (7). Between the two of them, there are words unspoken; what I would call “a camel in the room.”
Carmen approached the situation (camel) directly and aggressively and Ralph, desiring to keep his options open and / or to avoid hurting her feelings, parried. As a consequence, the issue was dealt with indirectly and without Carmen’s conscious awareness of her anger. She feels thwarted by Ralph and that he sends mixed messages, all of which provoke her desire for revenge.
At the surface, Carmen believes she is taking a just stance. She begins to rally the community around an injustice she believes is being perpetrated by Ralph. Carmen lights a fire under Type 8, Margaret and between the two of them, they take justice into their own hands. Carmen is single focused in her efforts, unaware of her aggressive, pushy approach. The ends justified the means.
Justine’s (Type 2) ire is stirred. Her empathic heart and desire to help launch her into action. Ingrid (Type 4) rises to the occasion in support. The two of them rally behind Carmen and Margaret (who also have unresolved issues with Ralph). Margaret takes an action with positive intent but is perceived as highly inflammatory and shaming of Ralph.
Among this group Type 9 is elected to be news to Ralph about how they decided to resolve the situation. Initially, Ralph agrees to the solution and all think things are resolved in a good way. However, Ralph starts to stew and becomes highly reactive. Everything begins to spin out of control.
How did their Enneagram Type Roles Play Out? Ralph, Type 7, left a mess and others cleaned it up. Our Type 8s pointed to the injustice and aligned others behind them. Type 2 cleaned up the mess with the help of Type 4, and Type 9 played the role of the diplomat.
The result: Ralph, Type 7 doesn’t understand why people “butted in” to his work. He believes he sufficiently resolved his problem and all is well. Now he feels he has lost control of the situation, his competence and integrity are being brought into question, and he is being publicly humiliated. While others think they cleaned up his mess, he doesn’t see that there was anything to be cleaned up. Rather than be appreciative of the help, Ralph is enraged and has launched a vitriolic attack against Carmen–who he feels is to blame for how things have unfolded.
When Carmen doesn’t react to his aggression, Ralph goes after Justine, who is now the lightning rod for the situation. After all, Justine has been the one to clean things up. She is also is the most easily hurt. Perhaps Ralph thinks he could get to Carmen by hurting Justine. Justine doesn’t understand why Ralph is so angry and unappreciative of everything she has done to remedy the situation, at her own expense.
Neither Carmen nor Ralph are aware of what lay below the surface, or if they are, how that might be influencing the situation they now find themselves in. The relationship lines are broken (for now). People see sides of each other they didn’t realize existed or had only glimpses of prior to this.
At this point, no one is taking responsibility for their part in this conflict. Email, the mode of communication, is being used to blame and explain.
Once again, everyone played his or her Enneagram role just beautifully. But damage has been done. A lack of conscious awareness about one’s tendencies and predispositions fed into this toxic stew. A crisis could have been averted …
When we are doing our Enneagram Type we play our role in a tragic comedy. If we don’t become aware of our reactive triggers, we act them out in a habitual and patterned way.
When we sweep things under the rug or neglect to look under the rug for an accumulation of dirt, there is a good chance we’ll trip on it.
“He said / She said” (which is where we are at present in our story) only serves to try an invalidate each other’s perspectives. It does not bridge nor resolve misunderstandings unless the other parties are open to hearing that their perspective might not be the whole story.
And you? What other lessons can be learned from this story?
If you were coaching this team, what would you do?
I look forward to your comments.
Today as I climbed the rocky trail, I thought about my assets and true net worth. What prompted this line of thought was a dinner conversation last night with some friends. As we discussed the world’s economic situation I pointed to my car and said, “this is my only asset.” As I heard myself say that, I wondered, “Is this true?”
When I reflected about how we often define assets (rental property, investments, home, car, gold, collectibles, etc.), it occurred to me that this is just one way of looking at them — balance entries of goods that can be converted to cash.
Rather than invest in tangible assets, I chose to invest in me and the investment is already it’s paying dividends.
As a leader, you have amassed a bank account full of information. This asset base has probably been instrumental in securing your position. But are you asset rich in self-knowledge? This kind of asset defines great leaders.
Do you know yourself well enough to identify what trips you up, what triggers your reactions, and your special sauce–what others find compelling about you? These are your most important assets and liabilities.
Why? Because you can play to your strengths and be aware of your pitfalls so you don’t trip yourself up. When you employ your self-knowledge, people will be drawn to you. They will get a whiff of authenticity and integrity and want to follow you. Now you have a greater ability to influence others and move an organization forward.
Think of someone who has inspired you to follow them. What was it about this person? Can you identify your own human assets and liabilities? What do others find valuable about you as a leader? What makes you stand out among the crowd? What are your liabilities that hold you back? If you were to make up a balance sheet of your human assets and liabilities, what would be on it?
When did you last put money toward building your assets–the ones that are sure to give you compound interest and can be “converted to ready money?”
We are living In times of great change, uncertainty, and mistrust of leaders.
How are you going to mobilize and motivate people?
When the chips are down and organizations have lots of choices about who stays and who goes or who gets hired, you want to distinguish yourself. This is an invitation to do your personal accounting.
How are you investing in yourself? What has been the payoff? I’d love to hear your stories.