Get to know the 22 types of leadership from the 3 most common personality profiling tools.
To help you figure out your leadership type, we'll explain the 3 most common profiling systems or “personality decoder” tools:
The Enneagram system of 9 personality types
William Goleman’s 6 leadership style
The Leadership Development Profile survey assessment created by Suzanne Cooke-Greuter and Bill Torbert.
The Enneagram system of 9 leadership styles
The Enneagram (from the Greek words “ennea” meaning nine and gram meaning something “written” or “drawn”) is a model of the human mind that uses 9 interconnected personality types. The exact origin of the Enneagram is unknown, but similar ideas can be traced back to the 4th century. Today the Enneagram has been adopted by many companies as a way to better understand and empower their teams. Tobi Lutke, the CEO of Shopify shared:
“Shopify is very partial to Enneagram, it has worked very well for us. In our internal system, you can see the Enneagram of everyone else, and it tells you what nuances, what means for how to work together…We want to find out what areas people have a fixed mindset on and try to get them to acquire a growth mindset.” (Source)
The model is represented by a nine-pointed graphic that represents the nine types of personalities:
The Enneagram map is grouped into three buckets of three based on the idea that humans process information through three forms of intelligence or “centers of intelligence”: the head, the heart, and the body.
The head — responsible for thinking and analyzing
The heart — accountable for our emotions
The body — the center of sensing the physical
We use all three centers of intelligence, but one of these centers plays a dominant role in the expression of our personality.
The nine leadership styles as taught by the Enneagram:
Each of the nine types has three sub-types (for a total of 27 sub-types) that provide additional personality nuances to help you find your correct type with greater precision.
”The three subtypes are defined by which of the 3 “instincts” is dominant. We all have all 3 animal instincts — for self-preservation, establishing social relationships, and the instinct for one-to-one bonding — that help us function in the world and keep us safe. And just as each person favors one center and one type within the center, we each favor one of these three instincts as kind of a “first line of defense.”
—Beatrice Chestnut, “The 9 Types of Leadership: Mastering the Art of People in the 21st Century Workplace”
1. The Reformer
As, the Reformer, these leaders are the principled perfectionists in the workplace.
Self-preservation Ones are the true perfectionist of the nine types. They are self-controlled, often to the point of being overly critical of themselves. As perfectionists, they finesse every detail of their work.
Social Ones have a teaching mentality and try to make things perfect for the world around them. They’re intellectual and noble. Famous examples of this subtype are Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
One-to-One Ones are usually the more impatient of the Reformers, often having a clear idea of how things ought to be done — they believe they know the right way. And while they might come off as critical, they mean well. For these Ones, learning to frame their feedback in a more constructive way is an area of growth.
2. The Helper
Type Two leaders project themselves as people-pleasers. They seek rapport and approval from the rest in the workspace.
Self-preservation Twos are playful and charming, which is why people are so naturally drawn to them. Of the Helper subtypes, these Twos tend to be more wily and unrestrained.
Social Twos earn the following of others by relying on their natural ability to influence. They like to take the lead and prove themselves as leaders among a broader audience
One-to-One Twos are overly generous and can be codependent; they need to take care of everyone else. In working so hard to please everyone, these leaders may sometimes come off as overbearing. Offer these Twos help, and then offer a second time.
3. The Achiever
The Achievers, as the name implies, are focused on meeting goals and hitting business targets. They are hard-working, highly focused, and competitive.
Self-preservation Threes are the hardest working of the Three subtypes. For them, it’s essential to be recognized as accomplished, but they avoid talking in a boastful manner. Self-preservation Threes are very often modest.
Social Threes have a competitive edge and want to appear perfect in the eyes of others. In the workplace, they strive for validation from their employees and peers. They are self-assured and driven by targets. They work hard to reach their goals and climb the corporate ladder.
One-to-One Threes are image-conscious and try to prove themselves by supporting others, sometimes at the expense of their own success.
4. The Individualist
The Individualists are creative and expressive.
Self-preservation Fours may often come across as egotistical. But pause, and remember that while they appear strong on the outside, they are emotionally sensitive on the inside. This is their nature.
Social Fours are emotionally sensitive. They compare themselves to others, believing they are somehow inferior. They express their emotional truth to connect with others and build relationships.
One-to-One Fours have a penchant for comparing themselves to others, often casting a bad light upon themselves. Similar to Self-preservation Fours, they are emotionally sensitive. However, these Fours don’t hide it. They express their emotional truth to connect with others and build relationships.
5. The Investigator
The Investigators are knowledge-seeking and extraordinarily insightful. Of all Enneagram leadership types, this one is the most analytical and logical. But they are also the most likely to cut themselves off and fall into introverted tendencies.
Self-preservation Fives, as extreme introverts, are more detached than the other subtypes. In the workplace, they often appear self-reliant, which stems from their perceived state of alienation. Remind them you’re here when they need you.
Social Fives are the extroverted subtype of Investigators. They are incredibly knowledgeable and often become experts in their fields. Social Investigators are the type of people that you will find at conferences and events meeting with like-minded individuals and absorbing new ideas.
One-to-One Fives are great listeners and conversationalists. They are the friendliest of the Five subtypes. They’re patient, curious, and very open to sharing their thoughts and feelings with their coworkers.
6. The Loyalist
Type six people are engaging, trustworthy, loyal, and committed leaders. Trust is of imperative importance for all Type Six subtypes. They are natural leaders.
Self-preservation Sixes are friendly, genuine, and tactful; they stand by their coworkers and everyone they appreciate. However, they also tend to become anxious and fret when they feel unable to take care of themselves.
Social Sixes can resemble Twos, as they’re concerned about other people’s opinions and do their best to fit in society. Social Loyalists tend to be extraordinarily dedicated and self-sacrificing to their cause or group.
One-to-One Sixes are disciplined, and they project energy and physical strength. It’s no wonder they people find it easy to follow these leaders. They too, however, have fears and weaknesses (they just happen to be hidden behind to image of strength they project).
7. The Enthusiast
Enthusiasts tend to focus on the future, unconsciously moving away from the discomfort and problems of the now. They are optimistic and excited idealist of our workspace. They are adventurous and view life as a fun-filled game. But they also tend to be prolific achievers and practitioners. The multidisciplinary generalists on our teams are an example of Type Seven people.
Self-preservation Sevens are the most pragmatic type of Enthusiasts. They are energetic and outgoing but also practical and ambitious. Aware of their tendency to get distracted by their brilliant ideas and future projects, this self-preservation type tends to take measured risks and plan carefully.
Social Sevens tend to take responsibility for their team. They can be idealistic and sacrifice their personal goals for the greater good of a group or cause they believe in.
One-to-One Sevens are the dreamers, the visionaries. They tend to distract themselves from the bland reality of their workday with the prospects of a better, optimistic future. That image of the future is one many others want to believe in.
8. The Challenger
Type Eight leaders are decisive and dominant. They employ courage, power, control, and justice to make an impact in the world. Following the beat of their own drum, they tend to break the rules.
Self-preservation Eights get things done by being direct and self-assertive. They are straightforward business people with a low tolerance for frustration and disorder.
Social Eights are remarkably protective of the people they care about. Social Challengers are the mentors of our world. Like the rest of the Challengers, they’re also defiant to authority, but they tend to be less confrontational than the rest.
One-to-One Eights are the rebels of the 27 subtypes. They are passionate and contentious rule-breakers. They like to be in control, and they can get defensive when that control is threatened.
9. The Peacemaker
Type Nine leaders are peaceful, empathetic, calm, and compassionate. They are the pacifiers of our work environment. Peacemakers tend to focus on creating harmony and alleviate any tensions that may have arisen due to conflicts in the workspace. Maintaining positive feelings with others is a top priority for them.
Self-preservation Nines tend to be the most passive of the three types. They find comfort in routine activities and align their behaviors and actions with their values and beliefs.
Social Nines are always busy, moving, and working on things. They are easy-going and fun to be around. They love to get involved in group activities and working hard to support the common cause.
One-to-One Nines care about the agenda and opinions of the others around them. They are less commanding and tend to be very understanding and accepting of others.
As you embark on the journey of understanding your leadership style, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the possible profiling methods and Enneagram leadership types. To make your life a little bit easier, let the FAST Enneagram Test guide you in finding your personality type by asking you 36 brief questions.
Additional resources and readings on the Enneagram system
Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence,” believes that leadership is a fluid practice that can be approached strategically.
Problems at work arise all the time. And like water adapting its shape to every form, Goleman thinks that executive leaders should adjust to different leadership styles as different situations and issues dictate.
The best leaders, according to Goleman, are skilled in four or more types of leadership and flexible enough to switch between styles to best serve the needs of a particular event.
In his report, Goleman introduces us to six leadership styles: