In order to live the leadership of letting go, it can be helpful to gain more insight into the sources of our need to control. While there are many sources, some of the more productive ones to investigate are linked to our personality. The Enneagram is a model of personality that sheds light on our worldview and our main motivations in life. One aspect of this is that we attempt to exercise control in particular situations in order to avoid something for us that is unpleasant (while for someone else it might carry little or no emotional charge). It can help us develop our leadership ability by becoming aware of such sources of the need to control.
The chart here shows nine different themes of avoidance, sorted according to Enneagram Style, that particular people attempt to control in their lives in order to avoid something that for them is deeply unpleasant. For example, people of Style Nine (the Peacemaker) tend to place a high value on harmony and correspondingly find conflict deeply unpleasant. Therefore, they often attempt to mange their surroundings so that conflict won’t arise. One way to do this is simply to ignore a conflict (through which it often worsens); this strategy is pretty common in the workplace. Many leaders that I coach simply hope that the conflict or one of the conflict partners will go away (especially when one of them has a fixed-length contract ). Another way is to ask their team or colleagues about a given problem or question and go along with what they suggest. Once they notice this, they begin to improve their leadership.
Style One (the Reformer) wants to reform the world thus attempts to exercise control to eliminate or avoid errors or mistakes. They like setting up processes that ensure the elimination of error. People of Style Two (the Helper) try to exercise control so that they – and their help – are needed. Who wants to be superfluous? I guess you begin to get the picture.
If you already know your Enneagram Style, I’d love to hear about your avoidance patterns; if you don’t yet know your Style, which of the words jumps out at you?