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  • Writer's pictureSusan Otim-Neal

Your Authentic Leadership Style

Updated: May 2, 2021

In order to be the best leader you can be, and lead authentically, you need to embrace and develop the leader that you already are. Many people try to fit into what they perceive to be ideal leadership styles without first discovering their strengths and using their own talents to their advantage. Operating outside of your natural abilities can be a great disservice to yourself and your team. No matter your personal skills or character traits, you can develop into a leader whom others will respect and follow. Let’s take a look at the 9 Enneagram personality types, corresponding leadership styles and challenges, and development tips for each type.

Type One: The Reformer Style: Leads by Example and Standard Setting Challenges: Being reactive and critical, overly involved in operational details, opinionated, and inflexible Development Tip: Learn to delegate, even the work you enjoy doing, without hovering or constantly checking up on others

Type Two: The Helper Style: Leads through Motivation and Encouragement Challenges: Being overly relationship-focused, having difficulty saying no or setting boundaries, and being too involved Development Tip: Focus on tasks equally with the relationship aspects of leading, take time for yourself to rest, eat and relax

Type Three: The Achiever Style: Leads through clear Goals, Plans, Entrepreneurial spirit and Results Challenges: Being too competitive, abrupt when stressed, impatient with lengthy conversations, and over-working Development Tip: Identify less with your work as the primary sense of who you are and the value you bring

Type Four: The Individualist Style: leads through values-based Vision and Connection Challenges: Being too intense or moody, over-emphasize feelings, over-sensitive, and withdrawn Development Tip: Focus less on yourself, your feelings, and the emotions of others, and more on the task at hand.

Type Five: The Investigator Style: leads through Research, Deliberation and Planning Challenges: Being detached, remote or aloof, overly independent, discomfort engaging others, and overly cerebral Development Tip: Gain greater access to your emotional state in real time and trust your body instincts more

Type Six – The Loyalist Style: leads through Creative Problem Solving and Collaboration Challenges: Being too wary and cautious or too risk-taking, too compliant or too defiant, and projecting feelings and thoughts Development Tip: Ask fewer “what ifs” and more “why nots” as you approach leadership challenges

Type Seven – The Enthusiast Style: leads through Innovation and Idea generation Challenges: Being impulsive and unfocused, avoiding difficult issues, rationalizing, and lack of thorough follow-up Development Tip: Talk less, listen more, stand still, and focus on execution equally with idea generation

Type Eight – The Challenger Style: leads through Strategic vision and bold Action Challenges: Being controlling and demanding, agitated with slow pace or lack of big action, and being highly over-extended Development Tip: Learn to forgive and forget, remembering that there are multiple, valid perspectives, and invite conversation

Type Nine – The Peacemaker Style: leads through Diplomacy and Consensus Challenges: Being unassertive, conflict avoidant, overly accommodating, and being indecisive or low energy Development Tip: Believe in yourself, honor what you have to offer as a leader, and share your point of view with others

Read through these descriptions again, and notice which traits are the most dominant in your leadership style. Keep in mind that you might find yourself with strengths in more than one category, and in reality, most good leaders adopt different leadership styles based on the situation at hand. The key is to always play from your strengths and those of your team, and have the flexibility to adapt yourself to different circumstances. Ultimately, the best leaders are true to themselves and embrace the leader that they already are. Which kind of leader are you? 

*visit for more on Enneagram leadership styles



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