• Kamron Collins-Johnson

Enneagram Types 1-4

I’m a firm believer that in order to be a good leader you should also be good at relationships. I think it is helpful to first determine your personality type or leadership style and then see how your employees stack up next to you. There are all sorts of personality tests in the world but one of my personal favorites is the Enneagram. The cool part about the Enneagram is that it teaches you all about your personality as well as how other people think and feel. In my opinion, the Enneagram is one of the most comprehensive personality inventories out there. If you’ve never heard of it, here’s how it breaks down.

The Enneagram itself is a geometric figure that maps out the nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships. It is a symbol that is made up of a circle with a triangle and a hexad in the middle that connects to nine outer points. The nine points are what represent the nine personality types – type 1 is The Reformer, type 2 is The Helper, type 3 is The Achiever, type 4 is The Individualist, type 5 is The Investigator, type 6 is The Loyalist, type 7 is The Enthusiast, type 8 is The Challenger, and type 9 is The Peacemaker. Each of the nine types fit into a sub-category called the triads. Eights, Nines, and Ones fall into the Instinctive Triad meaning they are concerned with maintaining resistance to reality – they also tend to have issues with aggression and repression. Twos, Threes, and Fours are in the Feeling Triad. They are concerned with self-image, however, underneath their ego, they carry a lot of shame around with them. Finally, Fives, Sixes, and Sevens fall into the Thinking Triad and are concerned with anxiety and they will do what they need to do in order to feel safe and secure. When you look at the triads, what you see is that each personality type has a basic fear as well as a basic desire. Now, I could do 9 separate posts for each type but for the sake of time, I’m going to break it up into two posts. I’m going to give you a high-level overview of types 1-4 today and next week we’ll do 5-9.

Type 1 aka the Reformer is an idealistic type

They are very conscientious and have a strong sense of right and wrong. While they are always striving to improve, the kicker is they are scared of making mistakes. They tend to have problems with repressed anger but at their best, they are wise. When I first took the Enneagram test, I would have sworn I was a one. I have a strong need to be perfect and I’m also highly organized. But then I read that Sixes often misidentify as Ones, which is when I discovered I’m actually a Six. The basic fear of Ones is a fear of being bad, corrupt, evil, or defective and their basic desire is to have integrity. Strengths that are typically associated with ones are their awareness and attention to detail, they have an optimistic worldview, and they defend the rights of others. Weaknesses include the tendency to be perfectionistic, difficulty accepting hard realities, and being highly critical of themselves and others. When communicating with a One, you need to take them seriously, focus on conveying a clear message, encourage them to share their thoughts, and express feedback in a constructive way such as giving specific examples of ways to improve. Common careers for Ones are lawyers, judges, social workers, politicians, counselors, and journalists.

Type 2, aka the Helper, is a caring, interpersonal type

Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They can also fall into the trap of incessantly trying to please people. Because they are driven by their need to help others, they sometimes neglect their own needs and forget to take care of themselves first. At their best, Twos have unconditional love for themselves and others. Not surprising, their basic fear is the fear of being unworthy of being loved and I’m sure you can guess that their basic desire is to be loved. Fun fact about Twos. Women often misidentify as Twos because when they are taking the test, they will unknowingly answer the questions from a place of who they think they should be, aka helpful/caring. This is not to say that there aren’t Twos out there who are women, but if you are a woman who first tests as a two, check out the next closest type you test as because it may be closer to the truth than the Two. Twos are typically supportive and encouraging of people around them, they have a positive attitude, and they love getting to know people. However, oftentimes, Twos seek out approval from others, they are sometimes perceived as overbearing, and the are easily offended by criticism. In order to communicate well with Twos, you need to be attentive and encouraging and help them to recognize their value. Let them help you problem-solve issues, and make sure you let them know how much you appreciate their hard work. When you must give feedback to a Two, avoid being overly critical and share any concerns you may have with sensitivity. You’ll usually see Twos as nonprofit leaders, religious leaders, nurses, teachers, and customer service reps.

Type 3 aka the Achiever is very success-oriented and is sometimes called the Performer

They are self-assured, attractive, and ambitious. They are extremely competitive even to the point of becoming workaholics. At their best, they are very authentic people who inspire others to do and be better. Their basic fear is being worthless or without value and their basic desire, obviously, is be valuable. They are driven to succeed, motivating and encouraging those around them, they easily connect with others, and are very charismatic. However, oftentimes Threes focus too much on how they look, they have difficulty accepting failure, and like I previously mentioned, they can be overly competitive. To communicate effectively with Threes, be as clear as you can and let them know exactly what you want or need. In other words, being concise is the name of the game with Threes. The best way to provide feedback to a Three is to let them know how much you value them while showing them how they can improve. Common jobs for Threes are consultants, marketers, entrepreneurs, surgeons, lawyers, and politicians.

Type 4 aka the Individualist is the romantic, introspective type

They are self-aware, reserved, and quiet. However, they can also be quite moody. They have problems with self-indulgence and self-pity. At their best, they are highly creative. A Four’s basic fear is being without identity or personal significance and their basic desire is to be oneself. Fours can deeply connect with their feelings and they are sensitive to the feelings of others, they know their growth areas and are also very deep-thinking and creative individuals. As for weaknesses, they often withdraw when the going gets tough, they fixate on what they don’t have, and they tend to overreact emotionally when life gets hard. Good communication with Fours should include sharing your feelings, being optimistic and encouraging, and letting them share their voice. Avoid chit-chat – those deep thinkers don’t have time for that. And when giving feedback, turn negative feedback into an opportunity for growth. You can find Fours working as actors, writers, artists, photographers, designers, and hairstylists.

Is your head reeling yet? I know, this is a ton of information to take in in a short amount of time. I find all this stuff completely fascinating because I’m so curious to know that makes people tick. If you’ve never taken the Enneagram test before, check out either of these websites to learn more:

After you take the test, I’d be curious to know what type you are! You can let me know via the comment section.

Next week we will finish up with types 5-9, which I’m excited about because I’m a Six and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

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