Podcast: Ian Cron on the Enneagram for Leadership

It can be hard for leaders to focus on themselves—their mentality, behaviors, actions—and to really understand why they do what they do. Usually, leaders try to focus on their followers without spending any timelearning about themselves. On this episode of The Leadercast Podcast, we hear from Ian Cron—author, speaker and Enneagram teacher—about how personality types can grow leaders' self-awareness.

The Enneagram is a tool for understanding personality, which says there are nine basic personality types in the world. Everyone embodies parts of all of nine types, but we tend to gravitate toward one.

“The Enneagram helps reveal what is underneath the waterline of our lives that's actually driving our behaviors—whether we know it or not,” says Ian in the podcast.

About the Enneagram

What matters most for relationships in the Enneagram is identifying the motivation of each of the types.

“It's not what you do that matters. It's why you do it,” says Ian. TWEET

Understanding the way that we act, think, feel and see the world on a regular basis forms the characteristics and traits that make us who we are in the eyes of other people.

“This underlying motivation is critical because if you don't know what it is, you won't be able to begin to self-regulate and understand not only yourself but other people,” explains Ian.

So much of leadership is navigating relationships, whether that's mediating between team members or relating directly to your followers. Strong leadership starts with understanding people. The fast track to using the Enneagram for leaders is this: Which of those nine types has a motivation that sounds most like what's underneath the surface  of your life?

Caution: There's not a 10-minute Enneagram shortcut. The best way to learn this system is to read a book about it or, better still, take a workshop.

Why Self-Awareness Matters

Self-awareness is the key predictor of success for leaders. Cornell did a study on CEOs and found that it wasn't strategic thinking or vision that made them successful: It was self-awareness.

“Self-awareness is about having knowledge about how your personality affects other people. It involves regulating, monitoring and correcting your ways of thinking, acting and feeling on a moment-to-moment basis,” says Ian. TWEET

Not having much self-knowledge is like driving in the dark. It's not understanding how your personality is having an impact on other people.

“A good leader has to start with themselves,” he shares in the podcast. TWEET

You have to know who you are, how you make decisions and how you relate to others. “Otherwise you're guessing, what's going to motivate this person?”

Ian was able to help one particular leader see how his habitual ways of behaving weren't working—to the point of making him feared by his followers.

“He was shocked. He just couldn't believe that people were experiencing him as an overwhelming person,” he explains.

Once this leader gained self-awareness, the whole office culture changed. “It made a night and day difference in their productivity.”

The 28 team members even posted their Enneagram numbers on their doors. “It has created so much more happiness, contentment, efficiency, productivity, laughter. People understand each other,” shares Ian.

Listen to the episode to learn more from Ian about the Enneagram and how it can make you a better leader for yourself, your team and your organization.

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This post is based on an episode of The Leadercast Podcast with Ian Cron. Find out more about Ian and his book about the Enneagram at iancron.com. To hear this episode, and many more like it, subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher.

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