The Enneagram for Leaders (for Types 7, 8, and 9)

Achieving Goals, Confidence, Leadership Coaching
03/20/23 - Brooke McCord
teammates shaking hands

People often consider the Enneagram to be a personality test, but it’s more than that. Instead of talking about what someone does and if they’re extroverted or introverted, it gets to something deeper. It gets to the heart of our motivations – it gets to the heart of WHY we do the things we do. This increase of self-awareness allows us to become aware of our patterns, break habits, and become more of who we want to be.

Getting out of auto-pilot and tuning into what motivates you and what motivates your team can help you unlock your potential as a leader and elevate your team. In this Enneagram blog series, I will use my learnings from the IEQ9 institute to go through the 9 types of motivations, their blind spots, and what you need to look out for, not just for yourself but also for individuals on your team.

Today, we will go through Enneagrams 7, 8, and 9! See Enneagrams 1, 2, and 3 here. And Enneagrams 4, 5, and 6 here

7: The Enthusiastic Visionary

Overview: Enneagram 7’s are very optimistic, playful, and adventurous. They want to experience life to the fullest and can take opportunities as presented to them. 

Motivation: They need to experience life to the fullest and avoid pain

Typical Conflict style: 7’s focus on the positive in conflict to avoid pain.

Blind Spots:

  • May learn a lot and present themselves as an expert, but the depth might not always be there.
  • Their exaggerated body language might be distracting or annoying to others
  • Might think they know what others are going to say, but they don’t
  • They are quick to rationalize their mistakes, which may prevent them from feeling whole.


  • Being limited
  • Do boring tasks
  • Not being taken seriously
  • Being criticized

Defense mechanisms: Quickly turn the negative into a silver lining to avoid pain and suffering

If you’re a 7, things to look out for and improve:

  • It’s easy to quickly go from one thing to the next. Don’t immediately move from task to task, maintain your direction and go deeper.
  • Remind yourself that structure can provide freedom, not always take it away.
  • It’s okay (healthy even) to process the negative rather than immediately turning it into a silver lining.

If your subordinate is a 7, things to know / how to help:

  • Focusing on one thing can be boring for 7’s and these types enjoy a variety of tasks. Give them a variety of tasks when you can. 
  • Help your 7 subordinates create structure and then stick to it. 
  • Make sure they process their mistakes to ensure they don’t repeat them, but don’t harp on the mistakes as that can take away their inspiration. 

8: The Active Controller

Overview: Enneagram 8’s value power, control, and avoiding vulnerabilities. They love challenges and are great protectors to those around them.

Motivation: They need to be strong and avoid vulnerability

Typical Conflict style: can be confrontational and seek control in conflict

Blind Spots:

  • They may be more intimidating than they recognize
  • There is a double standard for control – it’s okay if you have it, but not okay if others have it.
  • They may accidently be more vulnerable than they realize, letting things slip when reflecting.
  • Because you move towards resolution quickly, you might move too fast for others, which leaves them feeling unprepared.


  • Being controlled or their strength being underestimated
  • Others being indirect
  • Injustice

Defense mechanisms: 8’s will deny any type of weakness or vulnerability on their part and are quick to say that everything is under control.

If you’re an 8, things to look out for and improve:

  • You might not be aware of how intimidating you are, ask others for feedback in this.
  • 8’s can move too quickly, so check in on your pace with others in meetings or project timelines.
  • Vulnerability is hard for 8’s! Work on being more vulnerable with those you work with – share small, safe details about your personal life or about mistakes you’ve made and learned from in the past.

If your subordinate is an 8, things to know / how to help:

  • 8’s like control and can take on too much, check in with them and see how they are doing.
  • They want to avoid being controlled and will often do things on their own. Share that there is strength in the group and in collaboration, they don’t have to do everything alone.
  • Notice if they are bulldozing their peers and give them feedback.

9: The Adaptive Peacemaker

Overview: Enneagram 9’s value connection and want to keep the peace. They are patient, supportive, and appreciate stability and harmony. 

Motivation: They need to be in harmony with the world

Typical Conflict style: 9’s look for harmony and will try to mediate

Blind Spots:

  • Can be passive-aggressive rather than giving direct feedback
  • Set themselves up to be ignored because it’s hard for them to say no
  • Can lose influence because they go above and beyond to ensure that every single viewpoint is heard
  • Might not get what you need because you are so accommodating to others


  • Getting too many requests
  • Others being rude or unkind
  • Others taking advantage of them
  • Not feeling close to those around them

Defense mechanisms: to avoid conflict (internal or external), 9’s can numb out and go into cruise-control

If you’re a 9, things to look out for and improve:

  • Feedback can be hard to give for 9’s, but it’s an important part to help your subordinates grow. Make sure that when it’s time for performance reviews (and along the way), you are giving constructive feedback that your subordinates can use.
  • 9’s want to please everyone. When making big decisions, be goal aligned and maybe include less people in the decision-making process to ensure efficiency and goal alignment.

If your subordinate is a 9, things to know / how to help:

  • It’s hard for 9’s to voice opinions, especially if they think it’s not a popular one. Ask them their opinion and help them voice what they need.
  • They will avoid conflict at all costs. Let them know that conflict can be healthy and give them some tools here. 
  • Help them set goals and stick to those goals – also helping them know what step comes next.

If you are ready to learn more about how the Enneagram can help you in your leadership, book a free consultation to learn more.

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