Episode: Productivity by Enneagram Type (Part 1)
Michael Hyatt: Hi, I’m Michael Hyatt, and this is Lead to Win, the weekly podcast to help you win at work and succeed at life. In this episode, which I’m really excited about, we’re talking about your unique personality and what that means for mastering the art of productivity. Megan Hyatt Miller is on parental leave with her newly adopted daughter Naomi. She’ll be back soon, but today we’re going to solve the problem of being your own worst enemy when it comes to productivity, and we’re going to do that by helping you understand and work within your unique personality. I’m joined, as always, by Larry Wilson.
Larry Wilson: Hey, Michael.
Michael: We have in the studio with us my good friend Ian Morgan Cron, who lives about four blocks from my house, and we hang out a lot together. He has had a huge, huge impact on me. He’s also the author of the best-selling book The Road Back to You, which is absolutely the best introduction to the Enneagram you could possibly buy and read, and I give it to everybody. I’ve probably given cases of your book away, Ian. A lot of people don’t know this, but Ian is an Episcopal priest, he’s a licensed psychotherapist, and he’s a savant when it comes to all things literature and culture. He’s just a delight to know and to be with. Ian, welcome to the show. I’m super excited about this topic.
Ian Morgan Cron: Larry, Michael, thanks for having me.
Larry: Well, Ian, this is a treat. I’ve enjoyed your book and profited a great deal from it, so it’s great to meet you in person. Guys, I think what we need to do today is just… If we’re going to talk about the Enneagram and productivity, let’s just define what those are so we’re clear before they work together. I’m going to start with Michael, because I know you have a unique twist on productivity. So give us the elevator pitch-sized definition. What is productivity?
Michael: It’s the ability to get stuff done. That’s how most people define it, but I would add a twist to it, and I would say it’s the ability to get the right stuff done. Not everything advances you toward your goals, not everything has the same weight, and it’s not just busywork. It’s not just getting more stuff done, but it’s getting the right stuff done, not only in your work life but in your personal life.
Larry: I like that, which is good, because I work here.
Michael: There is that.
Larry: Ian, a lot of our listeners will know about the Enneagram. A lot of them won’t. So can you give us a very brief primer on the Enneagram?
Ian: Sure. The Enneagram is a powerful personality typing system that teaches there are nine basic personality styles in the world, and each of the nine types has a very distinct way of seeing the world and (this is important) an underlying motivation that powerfully influences how that type thinks, feels, and behaves in ways that are actually predictable and habitual. In my experience, it is an invaluable tool for leaders in any kind of organization, both, as Michael was saying, in their professional and personal lives. Very, very, very powerful.
Larry: I think the most straightforward thing to do is just go type by type and talk about each of the nine types and how that impacts and affects productivity.
Michael: I think that would be great, and I think we should probably say at the outset this is going to be a two-parter. This is going to be two episodes. You can listen to them back to back, but there’s so much content. I’ve talked to Ian for hours about this topic, and we’re going to do well to get it into two episodes, but these are two episodes you don’t want to miss. So there’s going to be a first part and a second part. It’s going to take two episodes to get through all of it, but we’re going to cover the gamut here.
Larry: Ian, with that, where do we start in the Enneagram?
Ian: Well, let’s start with the best one, Larry. Let’s start with Ones.
Larry: I was hoping you’d say that.
Michael: There are nine altogether. We didn’t say that at the beginning.
Ian: That’s right. Ones are called the Perfectionists. I often like to call them the Improvers, because I think sometimes people find the word perfectionist pejorative or negative in some ways. Meticulous, hardworking, reliable, responsible.
Michael: He’s smiling.
Larry: I have my hand raised right now.
Ian: You are morally heroic people, people you can count on to do the job and do it right the very first time. You’re going to discover as I talk about this how amazing and wonderful, how much potential each of these types has for leadership when they’re in a really good and healthy space and how, when they over-rely on their gifts, they become liabilities.
Ones are motivated by a need to perfect themselves, improve themselves, others, and the world. Twos are called the Helpers. These are warm, supportive, kind, “Be there when you need it” folks who just radiate love and kindness to the world. They have an underlying motivation, which is a need to be needed and appreciated by others. Threes…oh, they tie for first place.
Michael: Thank you, thank you.
Ian: They’re called the Performers. I actually like Achiever as well. Actually, I have seen it where people have called them the Producers.
Michael: That’s interesting.
Ian: In the sense of being productive. You really are the ultimate productivity machine. Charismatic, driven, ambitious, inspiring, and…
Michael: Keep it coming.
Ian: “Continue.” No one gets more done than a Three. You all are just machines, but your underlying motivation is a need to be successful, to appear successful, and to avoid failure at all costs.
Michael: And to make the success look easy. You’ve taught me that.
Ian: No sweat. No one has a poker face like a Three. They could be going into Chapter 13, and they look like everything is being handled really easily. Fours are called the Romantics, sometimes the Individualists. We see a disproportionate number of these leaders in the world of creative arts.
Michael: Here in Nashville, a lot of Fours.
Ian: Here in Nashville. Oh my gosh! How many Fours do we see. A ton. And how many Threes do we see who dress and want to appear like Fours because they think that’s the emblem of success here in an arts-based town. It’s fantastic. Fours are unusual leaders. They are creative, have a profound aesthetic sensibility, are very drawn to the avant-garde, actually, to the unusual. These are people who have a need to be special and unique, and we could explore why at some other point, but that’s the underlying motivation.
Fives are called the Investigators, sometimes the Observers, which I think is a terrific signal fire for them. They’re analytical, the most emotionally distant number on the Enneagram. These are people who have a need to perceive. They just want to know everything. They are compulsive gatherers of knowledge and information and, oftentimes, terrific pioneer leaders. People like Bill Gates would be a pioneering Five leader. Just extraordinarily talented as leaders when they’re in the zone.
Larry: I’ll bet they’re really hard to beat on Jeopardy!
Ian: They are so hard to beat on Jeopardy!
Ian: Yeah. Basically impossible. In fact, I was watching Jeopardy! the other night, and two of the three I would have bet my house on were Fives on the Enneagram. I was thinking about that third person, thinking, “O Honey, you’ve got no chance.”
Sixes are called the Loyalists, sometimes the Devil’s Advocates. These are worst-case scenario thinkers who have a profound need to feel safe and secure in what feels like an unpredictable and threatening world. However, they’re fantastic leaders who are earthy. They’re practical. They’re witty. They really have a terrific gift for seeing possible threats on the horizon. As a leader, what a gift.
Michael: You’d better have some on your team.
Ian: Oh my lord! Yeah, you’d better, and I have some stories about companies that didn’t and others that were grateful they did for a lot of reasons. Sevens are called the Enthusiasts. These are cheerful, optimistic, incredible ideators. They can see patterns and possibilities. They’re the first person you want to see in the hallway at work in the morning. They’re just “can do” people.
Now, the dark side of the Seven is they have an underlying need to see unlimited possibilities. They’re always planning new adventures and escapades in service to avoiding difficult feelings and difficult circumstances, but amazing leaders. I’d probably put Steve Jobs in that category of a Seven. Possibly. I’ve heard others think he’s a One, but I think he’s a Seven.
Eights, the Challenger. We think of Eights and Threes as the iconic leaders in organizations. We lionize Eights and Threes in American culture, in particular, as leaders. Eights are… Well, they’re challengers. They’re blunt, powerful, larger-than-life presences who can be combative and confrontational. They have a need to assert power and control over the environment and others in order to mask weakness and vulnerability.
Ian: But I will say this. One of the most amazing things about Eights is that despite a very defended exterior, they have one of the most sensitive, loyal, caring, loving hearts of any type, and they’re often the most popular type on the Enneagram because they have so much gusto for life.
Michael: We have several Eights on our team, including some women, female Eights. Man, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I’ve seen them challenge me, go toe to toe with me on the one hand, but be in tears because they care so deeply about justice and fairness and championing the right cause.
Ian: You bet. They are remarkable human beings, and I’m happy to say that in the organizational space, more and more women are being accepted as challengers, whereas in previous generations they were discriminated against for embodying characteristics and traits that were associated predominately with men. Now we’re seeing that people are willing to follow a powerful woman Eight, and thank goodness! Because we’ve lost a lot of powerful women. My mom is in this category.
Anyway, Nines, the last one… I love Nines. I’m married to one. I’m father to one. Pleasant, laid-back, accommodating, sometimes too accommodating. They’re motivated by a need to keep the peace, to merge with others, and to avoid conflict in service to maintaining inner tranquility, which is something they’re very attached to in life. So that’s a very quick précis of these nine numbers. As you know, Michael, from studying the Enneagram, there’s so much more I could say on each of these types.
Michael: Oh, so much more. Again, I just want to encourage you to get ahold of Ian’s book, The Road Back to You, which explains all this in much, much more detail, more time than we have time for on these two podcasts, but that’s a great overview.
Larry: You probably heard your own type in there somewhere or perhaps think you did. You may not know what your Enneagram type is. Ian, how can we find that out?
Ian: Thanks for bringing that up. Two ways. One is to read a good primer or introduction to the Enneagram. I am proud to say or delighted to say that I really do think The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, the book I wrote, is a really good introduction.
Michael: Absolutely. The best.
Ian: Thank you. So that’s one way. The second way and a great way is I have an assessment called the iEQ9, and I think it is the best assessment available, the best validity and reliability for results and the amount of material it gives you to describe your type, both its blights and its blessings, and familiarizing yourself… To me, it’s a very powerful tool, and I’ve had great feedback on the iEQ9. They can go to my website, ianmorgancron.com, and go to the tab on top that says “iEQ9” and take that deal.
Larry: That’s awesome, and we’ll put a link to that site and to the book in the show notes at leadto.win as well.
Michael: The thing we want to talk about, particularly on this show, is how these numbers deal with productivity. We want to talk about productivity by the numbers. What are the unique challenges, what are the unique advantages of each of the Enneagram types when it comes to getting the right things done? That is a challenge all of us face in general, but the numbers give us a particular slant on this. Anything you want to say, Larry, before we dive into this?
Larry: Yeah. I would just encourage people who are listening to keep the two tracks in mind. First of all, everyone has an Enneagram type, whether you’re aware of it or not, so you’re going to learn a lot about your own productivity and some of the pitfalls that can arise, but think about the people you work with as well, because they do too. You may not know exactly what type they are, but it’s going to open your eyes to the fact that everybody has a unique way of thinking, feeling, and approaching problems that’s going to be different than yours. I think that’s a good lesson, so bear that in mind as you listen.
Michael: I want to say, too, before we get into this, that the thing this has really helped me with is to not make people wrong because they’re different than I am. I think the great value of the Enneagram system is it has given me, first of all, self-awareness for myself but then empathy for other people and to realize that just because they have a different approach, that can actually be a strength in an organization. There are certainly some challenges, and if I understand them, as a leader, I can help them overcome those challenges, but I can also appreciate them. So, shall we start with type One?
Larry: Yeah. I’m all in favor of that. Ian, how can I be more productive?
Ian: Well, you actually articulated a number of ways in your opening remarks about Ones. As you mentioned, Ones have to be careful of putting off starting or completing tasks because they fear they’re not going to do them perfectly. I often say if you see a One tapping their desk with the eraser side of a pencil, staring at a blank page on the screen, you just need to go over to them and say, “It’s okay. Just start. Make all of the mistakes. We can go back and fix them.”
Encourage them not to put off what they can do and assure them that if they make mistakes in the first round, it’s actually expected and it’s actually to their benefit. Get those mistakes out of the way. I would say also that if Ones… Michael, what did you say to me one time? “Don’t wait until something is perfect. Get it out. Get it done.” What is it you used to say to me?
Michael: Well, I probably said it much more clever when I said it before, because I don’t remember what it was, but I say it’s much easier to steer a moving car, so get the thing in motion, and then you can perfect it.
Ian: Yeah, absolutely. You also said something else to me once that’s applicable here, which is “Don’t compare your middle to somebody else’s finish.”
Michael: I don’t think I said that. I may have said it, but I didn’t originate it, for sure, but that’s true. It may have been Jon Acuff. I’m not sure.
Ian: Okay. Here’s why that’s important for Ones in terms of productivity: they’re always comparing themselves to other people.
Michael: Is that true, Larry? Do you do that?
Larry: It’s a disease. I don’t know if there’s any cure, but, yeah.
Ian: They really do. I think when you begin to compare or to measure your success against another person’s performance, it’s a hindrance to productivity.
Michael: It is.
Ian: It slows stuff down. Can I ask you a question, Larry, about your experience? Some of my therapist is coming out.
Larry: Sure. I’m looking at this as a free counseling session, Ian.
Ian: I didn’t say anything about free. If you didn’t hear it, the meter is running. So, as we’re doing this interview, right now in real time, is there a portion of your brain that is actually monitoring and critiquing how you’re doing so far in this interview?
Michael: “How does he read my mind?”
Ian: That’s that internal critic. The inner critic for Ones is both a blessing and a curse. It can push you toward being effective and productive. It can be emotionally exhausting, because the critic can be severe and harsh at times, but to your point, Michael, about empathy and compassion, every type has a blight. You know what I mean? And this is one for Ones that they have to learn how to steward and manage, because, again, it can get in the way of productivity.
If you always have this inner voice saying, “You should have. You ought to. You must. You could have. Why didn’t you?” running in your head, it’s standing in the way of productivity. In part, I would say, because it’s driving you into work you can’t stop, because there’s always something to perfect or improve in the world. It just drives you. It makes relaxing and just chilling almost impossible for you.
Larry: It’s very difficult. Thankfully, I’ve grown in this journey over the years, but if you happen to be in a line of work or a profession where there are no clear finish lines…if you’re a creator, if you’re a minister, if you’re something where there’s always more to be done…it is absolutely exhausting if you’re not aware of that in yourself and put some stops where there aren’t natural finish lines or boundaries. It’s very important to learn.
Ian: It is, and Ones have to be careful that they don’t become resentful of people who are able to relax. (You’re rolling your eyes at me.) They feel like, “Gosh! I feel like I’m having to do the work of 20 here because other people aren’t pulling their weight.” That can, too, become a relational problem as well as a problem for Ones who can become workaholics, like Threes, but for an entirely different reason.
Larry: Okay. The counseling session is over now, Ian.
Well, let’s move on to type Two, which we’ve called the Helper.
Ian: Yep, that’s absolutely true. As I mentioned earlier, very caring people, as well as the most interpersonal, most relational number on the Enneagram. They’re people who get up in the morning, and the first thing on their mind is not productivity; it’s people, it’s relationships. They go to bed at night, and the last thing they think about is relationships. Their whole being and their way of identity and their self-esteem are very much related to their relationships.
Michael: Which sounds awesome, but I would think it could present some problems when it comes to productivity.
Ian: You bet it does. If you have a Two on your team (and Two leaders are guilty of this as well) and you see them wandering around from desk to desk and office to office asking about, “How are your kids?” and “What’s going on?” and “Tell me how you’re feeling,” which is a big theme for Twos who are exquisitely attuned to the feelings of other people, to a Three, for example, that can look like slacking off and not getting stuff done.
I have to remind Threes and other numbers sometimes that “No, no, no. That’s how they get it done.” If they go too much in that direction, then they’re not doing any tasks. They’re not actually buckling down and doing the stuff that’s not relationship based. That’s a big problem for Twos. They have to, at times, just discipline themselves to get the report done, to get to the list, not just to the relationship.
Larry: Let me ask you a question about that statement, “That’s how they get things done,” meaning, working relationally. Can you describe what that looks like? I think Michael and I are exchanging glances over here. It’s like, “People focus. Why?”
Michael: Speaking of Ones and Threes.
Larry: We’re so task-oriented. Can you talk more about how that relationality is a form of productivity?
Ian: Sure. Well, first of all, let’s just face something. In life, relationships are everything.
Larry: I do agree.
Ian: They’re everything, and they really do trump tasks. The problem with Threes and Ones and Eights and other numbers that are very drawn to tasks is they miss out on the human component, and they’re so focused on getting things done they can blow through other people. There’s a price to pay when that happens.
I would say that one way a Two can get things done through relationships is they often gravitate toward jobs where that’s the case. They fall into that slot. For example, Twos can be the people in the office, in the organization, who know everything that’s going on in the lives of the people around them, and they make it possible for others to be productive. They create an atmosphere and the natural climate in which people feel cared for, people feel safe.
They’re always the people in the office who know who’s getting divorced, who’s pregnant, whose kid’s birthday it is, other people’s birthdays. They’re the ones bringing balloons and cakes. They’re taking care of people on that level. You’ll rarely find better salespeople. You’ll rarely find better customer service people. They’re the people you want your customer to see the first thing they come in the door. You want them on the other end of the phone with an angry client, because they’re actually saying, “I really care.”
You also often see them as the power behind the throne. They are people who people go to before they go to the boss, because they know this person can actually take their concerns to the boss and communicate it in a way that the boss will receive because they’re so attuned to the boss’ feelings. They just know how to put things in a way that other people can hear it, because they’re so focused on the feelings of others.
They’re really amazing in an office when they’re healthy, and I’ve consulted with companies many times and said, “You notice there’s a big blank space here of Twos.” In some industries that’s not as necessary as others, but I’m always like, “Who’s answering the phone around here?”
Michael: What are the challenges when it comes to productivity, though? Because all that sounds great, and we want those people, but I know for a fact that they have some unique challenges when it comes to productivity. So what are those?
Ian: Well, as I mentioned, they can get too caught up in the world of relationships and not get stuff done.
Michael: They seem to have a hard time saying “No” sometimes, too, to their own detriment.
Ian: Yes. Twos and Nines. They can get overloaded with work, and Lord forbid they start to feel like others are taking advantage of them, because that will awaken real resentment and meltdown in a Two. Like other numbers, they can work themselves into a froth and exhaust themselves, and that’s where you really begin to see this resentment and anger arise, where they start to feel like, “Other people are taking advantage of me. I’m always there for them. Why aren’t they there for me when I need it?” That can become really problematic for a Two.
Michael: So, what advice would you give to the Two when it comes to productivity? What are the things they need to do? What are the things they need to avoid?
Ian: One of the things I’d say is they have to move away from social media, partly because what are they doing when they’re on Instagram or Facebook? They’re catching up with relationships. They’re not buckling down. I oftentimes tell Twos, “Block out a couple of hours during the day where your phone is off, where your ability to go online is severely limited, you’re away from your social media platforms,” because they’re just drawn. You know, “How’s everybody doing out there? I want to know what’s going on.”
Michael: “How can I help everybody?”
Ian: “How can I help?” Yeah. Again, when we over-rely on our gifts, they become liabilities, and their gift is that attunement. When they rely on it too much, that attunement becomes the very thing that’s self-limiting and sabotaging.
Larry: Okay. Let’s move to type Three, which is the Performer or Achiever or Producer. Michael, this is your type, and I’m sure you’ll be pleased to be front and center here.
Michael: Yes. Thank you. Enough about you guys. Let’s talk about me.
Ian: Well, productivity is not usually a challenge for Threes. As leaders, as people, productivity is generally not their issue. Where their issue can come in terms of productivity… Sometimes Threes will go after productivity and settle for efficiencies. I think they have to be careful of that. Sometimes, en route to the goal, they’re willing to cut corners when they’re not very self-aware, particularly young Threes. It’s like, “I just want to cross the goal without doing due diligence and being deliberate. Let’s get to the goal. And I want to get there first before everybody else.”
Michael: I’ve been guilty of that. Not cutting the corners ethically so much, but not doing my due diligence and just like, “Okay. I’m sure it’s good. Let’s go.” That has gotten me into trouble.
Ian: Which, by the way, will drive a One crazy.
Larry: No comment.
Ian: By the way, Threes and Ones often get confused with each other.
Michael: I thought I was a One for a while.
Ian: I remember that.
Larry: I thought I was a Three at first.
Ian: Okay. Want to know the difference? You’re an idealist, and here’s where your idealism really comes out. It’s like you want to do things right, and you have an ideal in your mind of what right looks like, but in part, you’re an idealist who’s fighting that inner critic, so you’re trying to avoid mistakes because you don’t want to have that inner critic unleash itself on you. So you have a very, very sensitized conscience. So you’re an idealist. You’re a pragmatist.
Ian: This is the difference between a One and a Three, and that’s where you can bump into each other, because you’re more concerned about ideals, getting things right; you’re more of a pragmatist, like, “Let’s just get it done.” Sometimes the fact that a Three will kind of rush to the goal line without getting everything done correctly, at least in the mind of the One…
Larry: Except not Michael.
Ian: Of course not Michael. Michael, by the way, has done a tremendous amount of work, and you’ve reached levels of success where some of the negative dimensions of your type have had to be burned off.
Michael: Yeah, and most of that has come through failure, through mistakes, through a lot of pain, and all that’s good.
Ian: And your willingness to talk about mistakes is an indication of health. You’ve shared mistakes with me in private, and I’ve seen you do it in public in service to helping others succeed, and that is a major marker of health for a Three. If a Three is unwilling to even admit “Here are my failures” or if I sense that they’re actually talking about their failures as a way to make themselves appear successful… You can just smell it when it’s happening. It’s like this is part of the schtick. It’s like, “Oh, let me talk about my failures and the book I wrote about my failures.”
Michael: It’s part of the branding.
Ian: Right. It’s part of the brand instead of coming from a place of authenticity and humility. When I feel that, which I’ve often felt from you pretty consistently… When I sense that, then I know a Three is on a good path.
Michael: Thank you.
Ian: So for Threes, productivity has to be tempered. They can become workaholics. They don’t know when to stop. They equate success with love, which becomes a problem, because that means you’ll never stop working. There’s never enough achievement.
Michael: That tank can never be filled.
Ian: Never. A Three oftentimes hits a wall where that game can no longer be sustained. It often happens in midlife or in little times along the way, but there’s oftentimes a significant problem that comes along that makes a Three do some self-examination, which actually leads us into one of the things that, for the sake of productivity, a Three has to do, which is develop a real practice of silence, meditation, and solitude, because you place such a value on activity and productivity. Maybe that’s what I was trying to say earlier too. Threes, if they’re not very well directed, can confuse activity with productivity, and that’s not the same thing.
Michael: That’s a really, really important point. It’s not the same.
Ian: Definitely not the same. Threes also have to learn how to be just another bozo on the bus and be okay that they don’t have to lead. They don’t have to be driving it. This is, again, a real signifier of health for the Three: when they start to be more concerned with helping others succeed. “How do I take my superpower and give it away? How do I put the spotlight on other people’s success rather than flaunt my own?” That’s a pattern I see in Threes that aren’t very self-aware.
I heard something the other day that was fantastic. This guy was… “Name drops keep falling on my head.” It’s like the Three can sometimes fall into that pattern of “How can I inject into a conversation or the moment all of my achievements, all of the people I know, all of the awards I’ve racked up?” Again, Michael, with you, I don’t see that pattern. You’re so self-aware and able to spot your baloney when it comes up. That’s what it’s all about.
Michael: Thank you. I certainly give you permission to call me out on that if I engage in that behavior. One of the things, too, that I’ve had to learn as a Three is to be aware of this drive to suppress my emotion in the pursuit of a goal, and then those emotions, when they get buried, come up in very unhealthy ways. They might show up as anger. They may show up as depression.
I think it’s hard for Threes to even get at their emotion. I remember people would ask me sometimes… Like, maybe a Two would say, “Well, how do you feel?” and I’m like, “I don’t know, and I don’t care, because I’m in the pursuit of a goal.” But that’s not healthy. I’ve had times when I’ve had sort of explosive anger that has come out of nowhere, and I’m like, “Where did that come from?” It’s because I had been suppressing that little by little until it just came out.
Ian: Let me tweak that a little bit. Ones are also people who can disconnect from feelings, and you are more likely to suppress anger, which then translates to your radiating resentment and judgment. Now this is when you’re in an unhealthy place.
Michael: He’s talking to Larry.
Larry: Yeah. I would say that has definitely been true.
Ian: That’s one reason Ones can get confused with Threes. I wouldn’t say you suppress it so much as postpone it.
Michael: Oh, that’s a much better distinction.
Ian: It’s almost like you can take out a SIM card of feelings and say, “In service to finishing this project, I am going to put my feelings aside,” versus suppress, because feelings are messy. What are they going to do? They’re going to slow me down.
Michael: Right. “I don’t have time for that right now.”
Ian: “Because I’m trying to be productive.” They create an efficiency drag. That’s what feelings do. So for Threes, they have to learn how to stay in touch with their feelings and be productive at the same time, and also be aware of the feelings of others. I’ve worked with a CEO before, and I’ve said, “People can’t leave their personal lives at home. It’s impossible. They’re going to bring their worries about their children or stresses in their marriage. They can’t.”
Now, I’m not saying you should put up with people all the time trying to do therapy in the office, but we do have to be attune to the feelings of others, because as leaders, we are also, I personally think, charged with not only advancing the needs and the development of the organization but of human beings. It has to be balanced, but you can’t do it if you’re like, “Don’t bring me your feelings because they slow me down.” People feel discounted and uncared for in that kind of environment.
Larry: Well, Michael, we’re going to take you off center stage now. I hope that’s okay.
Michael: I can handle it.
Larry: Let’s talk about type Four, which we sometimes call the Romantic or the Individualist.
Ian: I have to be honest and say I don’t see a ton of Four leaders in most organizations unless they’re companies that are in the creative arts that need to be attune to aesthetic sensibilities in the world and rely on people who have unusual depth of imagination and emotion. For Fours, the challenge in terms of productivity is that Fours can get swept up in the emotional space, and they can lose the capacity for critical thinking. They have to balance emotional depth with critical thinking.
By the way, Fours can be terribly ambitious. The whole idea that Fours are wandering off, saying, “Consider the lilies…” They can be very ambitious, very goal-driven, so we have to not slot people in stereotypes. These types are very complicated. Fours can be very ambitious. They, too, are idealists and can get stuck. Fours actually have an inner critic as well. The volume on it isn’t set as high as it is on a One, and I think it triggers more shame. Shame is a major issue for Fours.
They, too, can get caught up in procrastination and not pursuing goals, because they’re always falling short of the ideal, which is a whole different dynamic than it is for Ones. It’s nuanced, but it’s different. I’d say, too, that Fours can compare their progress against that of others, and what that does is it arouses their major passion, which is envy.
I oftentimes tell people, “If you’re a leader of a Four, don’t say to a Four, ‘Why can’t you be like John who gets copy written faster?’” Because you know what? That Four is not going to say to themselves, “Okay. I’ll do that.” They’re going to spend the rest of the day looking over at John, feeling envious of his or her ability to get the job done. That’s not a motivator for Fours.
So they do need to be around conscientious people and people who will help them to see their very special and unique gifts and leverage them toward advancing the purposes of the organization. They’re fantastic. They build companies like Tiffany’s or Herman Miller or other companies like that. We want to have the fullness of all of these types represented in our spaces. Now, oftentimes I’ll say to an organization that can’t hire all of those types or that are in industries where some types are better than others…
I recently did a company that is loaded with Fives and Ones. They’re in the science space. They really don’t have much need for Twos, in a way, as other companies would, but I say to them, “Okay. Maybe you can’t hire them or you can’t afford to hire them. Well, is there a consultant that you can bring in at times to help you speak into that space? Are there types on your team…? They’re going to have to expend more calories, but who can consciously make the decision to fill that space as best they can.”
The question I often ask on a consulting day is, “What does it cost you not to have this type here?” I don’t tell them. Maybe it’s nothing or very little, but I just want them to consider, “How is the absence of this ‘energy’ actually slowing us down and creating a lack of productivity, perhaps, or assurance of quality?”
Michael: To get back to productivity for Fours, what are the things they need to do and what are the things they need to avoid?
Ian: Well, as I said, they have to avoid allowing their natural attraction to things that tap into their imagination and into their emotional depth to override critical thinking, and they have to realize sometimes that people may not always understand their way of doing things and that they can’t take it to heart when others don’t understand them, because actually they are hard to understand. I think people who lead them need to always remind a Four, “Hey, we value your unique and special insights.” If you do that with a Four, even if you don’t follow the recommendations they have, they’ll be fine. You just have to recognize that they do bring a unique voice to the organization.
Michael: I just want to say to Nick, who’s our producer, we really appreciate you for your unique and special contributions.
Nick: Aw, thanks.
Larry: Nick, as you very well know, we don’t take all of your suggestions, but we do appreciate them.
Ian: That’s right. We know you bring unique value. Your contribution is very special.
Michael: Hey, thanks, Larry. Thank you, Ian. I’m going to stop it right here. We’re going to resume next week where we’re going to cover the last five Enneagram numbers. Thank you guys for joining us on Lead to Win. I hope you found this valuable. Join us next week when we’ll cover the last five numbers, but until then, lead to win.