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Nine Types of Enneagram Leaders

enneagram nine leadership types
Follow the leaders or lead the followers - by Ann Gadd
Follow the leaders or lead the followers – by Ann Gadd

Each of the Enneagram Nine Types of Leaders has something unique to offer when it comes to taking a leadership role.

Bob’s a Type Eight Enneagram, often called “The Boss.” He enjoys being in charge and energetically pushing forward with a new project. He has a “no-nonsense,” approach to management. So, he’ll be the best leader, right?

Not necessarily. 

Take Sheila. Sheila is quiet, doesn’t enjoy the limelight and unlike Bob, takes time to reach a carefully considered inclusive decision. As a result, her staff adores her. They feel she listens to them and will follow her anywhere. 

The Nine Types of Enneagram Leaders have different leadership styles, but they can be equally as effective.

I’ve found that all types can lead successfully, albeit with different strengths and weaknesses. When you know and understand your leadership style you can become the best possible leader. 

The One Leadership style

One’s see themselves as the guiding star—the leader who shows others the right way to do things. They take their role seriously and are committed, hard workers. They follow the rules with a clear understanding as to precisely what road to follow. They are both ethical and responsible. One leaders genuinely want to improve things and they typically do. With a natural ability for details, financial and otherwise as well as strategic thinking.

How they make decisions 

When a decision needs to be made, they do so using their judgment by drawing from previous or historical data and giving it careful consideration before deciding the way forward.

What they need to watch out for

One’s tend to be fairly hierarchical aware. This may be offensive to those types that have a flatter approach. At times their need for perfectionism can be experienced as inflexibility, to the point of not being open to new and creative ideas.

The Two Leadership style

Two’s are the best leaders for those staff or clients needing support or collaboration. They want to be of service to others. So new interns will benefit from the caring teaching of a Two leader. Two leaders need to be surrounded by people, so an office on the top floor away from everyone won’t work. They are good at customer service and bringing out the best in their staff. In return, they like to be appreciated for the help they offer.

How they make decisions 

Two leaders will take note of the impact their decisions will have on others. They want to be seen to be making decisions as part of a consultation process, wanting others to feel part of the process.

What they need to watch out for

Two’s can sometimes be seen to have certain favorites amongst their staff which can create problems. The need for others’ approval can influence the way they make decisions, (not always for the good). They also need to learn to put firm boundaries in place. (It’s okay to say “No.”)

The Three Leadership style

Goal-setting, marketing orientated Threes are great at motivating others to achieve the way they do. Their desire to win has them cutting to the chase and handling time efficiencies well. Failure is never an option. They are very adaptive and are good organizers. As a result, they thrive in corporations, where their numerous skills are appreciated. They are good at seizing opportunities and finding the fastest (which can mean cutting corners), means to achieve their desired end. Their desire to be seen as excellent, drives them to succeed. They can be impatient with slower learners, long, time-wasting meetings, and anything that hinders the speed of achieving the desired goal. 

How they make decisions 

Three leaders will base decisions on the fastest and most efficient way to achieve their goals. Details and doubts from others may be annoying. 

What they need to watch out for

Wanting their successes to be recognized, they can be self-deceptive when things don’t proceed according to plan. Suppressing their emotions and so appearing cold.

The Four Leadership style

Innovative, creative Fours are unique in their leadership approach. They want things to be done differently to make their mark in the world. Boring and predictable won’t work. Mundane doesn’t work for them. Four leaders need to be able to distinguish themselves in all they do. They can be very inspirational to those they lead, blasting new innovative ideas into the places and people they lead. Where others see problems, they see possibilities.

How they make decisions 

Four leaders will base decisions on their well-developed intuition—the hunch that pays off, as well as what will cast them in the role of unique innovator, combining their creativity with idealism. They will be inclined to push their idea or opinion, disregarding the input of others. Aesthetics will also be a determining factor.

What they need to watch out for

Fours can be moody, especially if they are feeling their special contribution is not being recognized. Criticism can be misconstrued as rejection. If others are being more acknowledged for their contributions, they can become easily discouraged and give up.

The Five Leadership style

Clever, strategic thinking Five leaders are logical and able to remain calm in a storm of uncertainty. Fours negotiate well, provided they have been given the facts well in advance. Preferring to work independently from others, they may not enjoy intrusions on their time or space. Fives need time to think things through. Staff can be draining. They are good at identifying innovative possibilities and joining the dots between various modalities.

How they make decisions 

Five leaders will base their objective and considered decisions on research and facts they have painstakingly acquired. They want all the information and the figures from reputable sources (in their minds) before they decide the road ahead. Their approach is unemotional and analytic. Usually, they make their decisions alone. They don’t enjoy sudden decisions being forced on them. Doing so will typically result in a “No,” answer.

What they need to watch out for

Ignoring the views of others’, they consider less intelligent or knowledgeable. Isolating themselves at the expense of engaging interaction.

The Six Leadership style

Problem-solving Six leaders are particularly good at leading teams, where their ability to succeed makes them strong leaders. They enjoy the security of feeling part of something. They are the leaders who can spot potential future problems and take prior precautionary action. To their staff and clients, they are responsible, dependable, loyal, and trustworthy leaders who thrive on being supported in their endeavors. They are good at networking with others to achieve the desired result. They often bring a quiet wit to the workplace.

How they make decisions 

Six leaders will base their decisions on the potential of what could go wrong and then counteract that possibility. When less confident they can vacillate between decisions, debating the potential safest outcome, rather than taking action.

What they need to watch out for

Fear can threaten their innate courage to act, making them doubt themselves and others. They need to be aware of their potential resistance to fast change. Leadership style can on occasion swing from being overly controlling to abdicating.

The Seven Leadership style

Enthusiastic, upbeat Seven leaders will make sure the office is a fun place to be, inspiring others to get caught up in their exciting plans. They are risk-takers who through their efforts can bring about creative change in companies. Sevens are generally charismatic and so good at wooing potential clients. The glass is normally half full… wait make that full. Routine and details are boring, taking on new projects and challenges fun. Sevens envision the bigger picture. They are good at multi-tasking and generally have a flat management style. 

How they make decisions 

Sevens make decisions fast (often spontaneously) and don’t cope well with petty rules and bureaucracy hindering their progress. They seldom draw on detailed data to do so. Flexibility is pronounced and staff may battle to keep abreast of frequent changes to the plan.

What they need to watch out for

Sevens can be intolerant of those who don’t adopt their plans as fast as they do or who criticize them. They can also avoid facing any project problems. Having a variety of projects can become the focus, rather than completion of any. 

The Eight Leadership style

Challenging, assertive hands-on Eights are natural leaders and so enjoy management positions. They are straight-talking and expect the same from those with whom they work. They are good initiators and enjoy the challenge of a task. Confident Eights inspire the trust of their staff. They have boundless energy and don’t get bogged down in details. If they want a particular outcome, they go at it with energy and passion. They enjoy the challenge of building a new business or area of an existing company and in doing so, winning against the odds. They are fair and just, creating strong rules for others (as opposed to themselves), to obey.  

How they make decisions 

Decisive Eights take immediate action when it comes to decision-making. It’s seldom a collaborative process. Anything or anyone standing in their way will be dispensed with.

What they need to watch out for

Eights can be dismissive of anyone they see as lacking in strength and openness. They need to be aware of their intense energy and the effect it has on certain less confident staff members. They tend to want to dominate and control.

The Nine Leadership style

One of the greatest strengths of leadership a Nine possesses is the ability to mediate and stabilize a corporation or team. They can understand different viewpoints and find commonalities between opposing forces. This is a skill much appreciated when many viewpoints need to be considered. Nines lead from behind, helping, and engaging with all staff and clients before moving ahead. They are the calm in a corporate storm, needing everyone’s buy-in before proceeding with energy on the decided course. Nines make practical and co-operative leaders.

How they make decisions 

They are good listeners who will hear all sides of an argument before deciding the way forward. Nine’s have a developed intuition which also assists the decision-making process.  

What they need to watch out for

Fence-sitting and the desire for things to remain unchanged can mean that they don’t take decisive action. Nine’s also don’t enjoy confrontation, so may delay making a decision if they feel it will be problematic for certain parties involved.


The Nine Types of Enneagram Leaders then have gifts to bring to the leadership process. Becoming aware of what the strengths (and weaknesses) of each leadership type are, can help utilize each type’s potential. Ideally, a mix of all types makes for the strongest and most balanced management team. 

In writing this article, I’m indebted to the work of Albert Kamphuis’s book Egowise Leadership & the Nine Creating Forces of the InnovationCircle as well as as well as Helen Palmer’s The Enneagram in Love and Work.

The artwork is my own. (I have this thing about sheep.)

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