Many of you may have heard about the Enneagram by now–it seems to be everywhere. 

When I started studying it in my 20s, it was the “Ennea-what?” But now, I can’t seem to check my Instagram account or get on YouTube without seeing dozens of Enneagram quizzes, memes, and other tidbits of information. 

What I’ll be doing in the next several “The Alchemy of Leadership” posts is exploring leadership maturity (A.K.A. executive presence) through the lens of the Enneagram.

Executive presence is a lot about energy. Yes, it’s about what you say, it’s about how you build connection, it’s about how you present yourself; it can even be about how you look. But at the root, it’s about energy: the impact that you put out in the world, and how people experience you.

Enneagram Triad Centers

There are nine Enneagram types overall. Within those nine, three specific triads are incredibly important for executive presence. 

The nine Enneagram types each fall into either a body, heart or mind triad. You can think of these triads as where a person’s core energy comes from: Heart? Head? Gut?

Think about the following three centers of expression as they relate to your own leadership, as well as to those around you:

Action Triad (Enneatype 8,9,1): This group is action-oriented. They seem to have an energy that comes from their gut or their core. If they are in touch with their body, they use it as an instrument to connect to and get information from.

Feeling Triad (Enneatype 2,3,4): This group’s energy comes from the heart. You often hear them describe things through more feeling terms. They are focused on connection, and they care about what people think about them, which is why they are also called “image” types.

Thinking Triad (Enneatype 5,6,7): This group is focused on their mental space. These are the folks that might be thinking of future ideas or need time to process before they speak. As this is the mental triad, you can often sense and feel a lot is going on in their heads.

Questions to ponder:

You:

  • In which triad do you spend more of your time?
  • How does that triad’s energy help and hinder you?

Others:

  • Where might some of your colleagues or friends/family land? 
  • How do you think you respond to those that interact with you from an action, feeling, or thinking energy center? 

P.S. Identifying your action-feeling-thinking triad can give you clues for which of the nine Enneagram types you might fall under. Stay tuned for more on this in future posts.