What Is Your Management Style Based on Your Enneagram Type?

First up: If don’t know your type, take the free Enneagram personality test before reading the rest of this blog.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever given out (and taken!) a personality test for a new job or as a team-building exercise at work. Chances are, many of you have – and with very good reason. In a professional capacity, personality tests can be a powerful tool for discovering your management style, especially for those who are in leadership positions and responsible for driving the development of others.

Personality tests can be used at work to…

  • Increase self-awareness
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Understand management tendencies
  • Match employees to managers

There are several personality tests to choose from, each with their own set of supporters and critics. Perhaps the most well-known test, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, has faced backlash in recent years for scoring low in reliability and predicting outcomes. You may have also heard of or taken the DiSC model or Holtzman inkblot technique (HIT). Along with about a dozen more, each test focuses on different variations of personality indicators and comes at various price points.


What is the Enneagram Test (and how can you use it at work)?

One personality test that Kazoo loves is the Enneagram, especially in a work setting. This particular personality test taps into how we think, feel, and act – all three of which play a huge role in developing the traits of a good manager and laying the groundwork for success as leaders in the workplace.

At the heart of this test is the distinctive Enneagram symbol. According to the Enneagram Worldwide website, “Stemming from the Greek words ennea (nine) and grammos (a written symbol), the nine-pointed Enneagram symbol represents nine distinct strategies for relating to the self, others, and the world.

“Each Enneagram type has a different pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting that arises from a deeper inner motivation or worldview.”

There are several different versions of Enneagram tests. They range from short, free versions and modified ones to the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI®). The RHETI is the most popular version of the test, consisting of 144 questions for about $12 a person. No matter which version you choose, at the end of the questionnaire you’ll be categorized as one of nine Enneagram types.


The 9 Enneagram Types and Their Management Styles at Work

While personality tests shouldn’t be used on their own to categorize employees or make major decisions, it can help support a broader effort to better understand your managers’ actions and leadership style. So, how does your Enneagram type at work affect your performance and success as a manager? Find your type in the list below to learn more:

Using the enneagram at work


The rational, idealistic type: principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic

A Reformer’s worst fear is not doing the right thing. A growth mindset is woven into their DNA, and as a result, they’re often high achievers who want to improve everyone and everything around them. As managers, Reformers are good at driving continued development and encouraging employees to set stretch goals.

Famous examples: Michelle Obama and, hilariously, SNL’s “The Church Lady”


The caring, interpersonal type: demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing, and possessive

Helpers are givers, not takers. At work, this Enneagram type often ascribes to a servant style of leadership. As people pleasers, managers who are Helper types might lack the tough love necessary for certain employees to succeed. They may even shy away from delivering uncomfortable criticism in order to get underperformers back on track.

Famous examples: Nancy Reagan and Paula Abdul


The success-oriented, pragmatic type: adaptive, excelling, driven, and image-conscious

Here come the workaholics. Achievers are quintessential ladder climbers who place a high value on both being successful and being seen as successful. Achiever types in management roles might have ended up there by being exceptional individual contributors. And while they certainly understand what it takes to be successful, they may need coaching themselves on how to drive that same level of performance out of others.

Famous examples: Oprah Winfrey and Tiger Woods (hello, 5-time Masters champion)


The sensitive, withdrawn type: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, and temperamental

Individualists are creative thinkers. Often you’ll find them to be musicians, actors, poets, and the like. As managers, Individualists might tap into an employee’s emotional needs and well being more easily than other types. They’ll be quick to get to the root cause of problems but might blur the line between work and personal issues.

Famous examples: Alanis Morrisette and Frida Kahlo


The intense, cerebral type: perceptive, innovative, secretive, and isolated

Unsurprisingly, many entrepreneurs identify as Investigators. They are visionaries, concerned with solving big problems. As managers, Investigators risk getting their heads stuck up in the clouds instead of focusing on their team’s tactics and deliverables. Their eccentric management style and problem-solving approach could turn off certain pragmatic employees.

Famous examples: Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking


The committed, security-oriented type: engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious

Loyalists focus on creating and offering security to others around them. As such, they don’t shy away from commitment or run when the going gets tough. Loyalists are great managers who can be very supportive of their teams, but also can get stressed from time to time. They’re likely big on recognition and creating positive, encouraging work environments for young employees.

Famous examples: George H.W. Bush and Katie Couric


The busy, fun-loving type: spontaneous, versatile, distractible, and scattered

Enthusiasts are the life of the party but rarely stay in one conversation for too long. They are experience seekers who change interests and hobbies often. As managers, they may have trouble keeping employees on track, but they might also help them uncover hidden talents or skills that can help them in their careers.

Famous examples: Amelia Earhart and Richard Branson


The powerful, dominating type: self-confident, decisive, willful, and confrontational

The Challenger types often have some issues as they like to be in control. They are confident but can quickly turn egotistical and domineering. As managers they could tend to rule with an iron fist and not be the greatest delegators, preferring to do the job themselves to ensure it’s right.

Famous examples: Winston Churchill and Tony Soprano


The easygoing, self-effacing type: receptive, reassuring, agreeable, and complacent

Peacemakers have the perfect moniker, shying away from conflict and confrontation all for the sake of keeping things in harmony. They might not be comfortable as managers, especially when it comes to giving feedback or delivering bad news. But on the positive side, they are great at keeping the peace and creating stability for employees.

Famous examples: Abraham Lincoln and Mister Rogers!

Ready to take your management skills to the next level?

Kazoo’s free management training course walks readers through the fundamentals of being a great people manager in 9 easy-to-follow email sessions. Whether you’re a first-time manager, seasoned vet, or HR professional tasked with improving the skills of your C-Suite, this course provides research-backed data, actionable insights, and industry best practices for developing the tools to increase employee engagement, retention, and productivity.

Register for the course today!