Enneagram is a tool used in studying human behaviour. Though the word itself is derived from the Greek language, it is presumed to have originated in the Middle East. The word means ‘ennea’ or nine and ‘grammos’ or types. The word describes nine types of human behaviour.
The symbol for an enneagram is a nine pointed polygon. The enneagram first came to the West sometime around 1900 when Armenian Georgi Gurdjieff relied on it as a cosmological model, to make a distinction between the very essence of a person and the personality. He was a highly spiritual person, but it is Oscar Ichazo who is considered as the father of the modern enneagram. He wrote a book on it in 1950. Psychologists began using this behavioural tool in the 1970s and till today it serves as a rough guide for human behaviour.
The enneagram describes nine types of personality. Each type has a predominant attitude which will define their essence. They may have a little bit of any of the other types also, but it is only one of the types that will be predominant and define them. Each type describes the needs and driving force that can be attributed to a person of that type.
1. The Perfectionist: This type of personality wants to excel at everything. The perfectionists are dependable, orderly and want everything to be just so. They want to control everything and this can prove to be a disadvantage also. They are also highly critical of most things.
2. The Helper: Such persons want to be liked. A helper is a caring individual and usually finds it hard to say no. The problem with this type is that they are nosy, meddlesome, jealous and highly possessive.
3. The Achiever: An achiever is someone who is ambitious and wants to be very successful. He is willing to work hard for his success. They are goal oriented, confident and always optimistic people. The drawback with this type is that they are selfish and are unmindful of the feelings of others.
4. The Individualist: The individualist is a highly emotional person who is prone to ups and downs. They go for depth in anything and dislike routine. They are prone to mood swings and given to emotional outbursts.
5. The Observer: An observer is a keen learner from situations and can read most stuff correctly. They are analytical, observant and use their logic all the time. They come across as emotionless and cold people.
6. The Loyalist: Such a personality type is a stickler for rules. He is a responsible person and has a great need for security. He is dependable, but highly suspicious of anything and anybody.
7. The Optimist: An optimist is someone who is always optimistic and impulsive. They lack depth and can come across as shallow individuals.
8. The Leader: As the name suggests, a leader is confident and protective. He will not skirt a conflict situation if the need arises. He can sometimes be selfish and vindictive.
9. The Mediator: A mediator looks for peace and harmony in all situations. They can adapt easily, but can also be indecisive.
After understanding the type into which they can slot themselves into, people can try the suggestions in the enneagram to improve themselves and grow as a person in their personal as well as professional lives. This model helps a manager to determine and understand the kind of personalities he is working with and to assist him to understanding them better.