Have You Heard of the Enneagram?

enneagram-blogDiSC, Myers-Briggs, and Colors are different tools that are supposed to help determine aspects of our personalities. Yes, some are wacky and others are super scientific, but all attempt to help us understand who we are and why we do the things we do.

While the various tools listed above are common, the Enneagram is more mysterious. Some misconceptions that have prevented it from becoming a major assessment.

The word enneagram comes from the Greek ennea (“nine”) and gram (“something written or drawn”) which refers to the nine points on the Enneagram symbol. These nine types (numbered one to nine) all reflect a different and unique way of behaving, thinking, and feeling. Our Enneagram number does not change throughout our lifetime; however, with development and growth, it either becomes more or less pronounced, depending on how we use it.

While the exact history of the Enneagram is not fully known, it has its roots in Asia and the Middle East from several thousand years ago. Over time, the Enneagram has evolved and emerged in various parts of the world, and its use in our modern times can be attributed to two philosophers and a psychiatrist: G.I. Gurdjieff in the 1930s in Europe, and Oscar Ichazo from the 1950s in South America. Claudio Naranjo, a psychiatrist, initially studied the Enneagram with Ichazo and brought it to the United States in the 1970s.

MSEC uses the Enneagram in a variety of ways, from teambuilding to leadership development, from conflict management to decision-making. Here is how the Enneagram stacks up against two of the most common assessments available.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): “Many organizations use both the Enneagram and MBTI because they are highly complementary and focus on different but compatible aspects of human beings,” says Ginger Lapid-Bogda, Ph.D., author of Bringing Out the Best in People at Work.

According to Lapid-Bogda, what most differentiates the Enneagram from the MBTI system is its ability to help those who feel they don’t fully fall into the category the MBTI puts them in. So while they can be complementary, the Enneagram offers flexibility while MBTI is more rigid.

Dominance Influence Steadiness Conscientiousness (DiSC): DiSC provides a detailed summary of behavior and preferences across the four different dimensions of the DiSC profile. The DiSC assessment provides a broad overview of a person’s behavior and preferences, while the Enneagram, according to Lapid-Bogda, “Offers an in-depth understanding of a person’s character structure, including their core motivations, assumptive worldview, and repeating patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.”

While knowing how someone behaves or will behave can be very helpful, the Enneagram can offer much more insight into the “why” behind the behavior. As with the MBTI, the DiSC and Enneagram can complement each other when used in tandem.

And there you have it. A quick glance at the Enneagram and how it stacks up against two of the most commonly used assessments.

Feel free to contact the Organizational Development and Learning Department at MSEC for more information on the Enneagram or any of our other assessment tools.