two men looking at a laptop in an office

In Part 1 of my Enneagram in the Workplace series, I highlighted Types 2-4 and how they can take advantage of their type to be empowered and effective in their career. This blog post focuses on Types 5-7 and their typical workplace habits, as well as how they can utilize strengths and grow in weaknesses to see greater success at work. (By the way, Enneagram Types are organized into three groups of three based on “Centers,” and Centers are defined by how Types react to situations). I give a brief overview of Centers in the Bonus Content, and if you haven’t taken the test yet, links to the Enneagram Personality Test are in the Bonus Content, as well!

Type 5: The Investigator

Type 6: The Loyalist

Type 7: The Enthusiast


TYPE 5: THE INVESTIGATOR

woman staring at a laptop intently in an office by herselfOverview: “Investigators” are known for their curiosity and thirst for knowledge. They aren’t satisfied with simply living in their environment, but desire to understand the environment they are a part of. Insightful, independent, innovative, and inventive, they likely have in-depth knowledge about several topics. Being the most emotionally-detached type, they prefer to focus on developing complex ideas rather than their feelings. Investigators are minimalistic, private, and prefer observation over participation. Their lives lived on the sidelines can lead to isolation and struggles with nihilism and reclusiveness. Fives fear being useless, incapable, or helpless, and when unhealthy, they struggle with avarice and hoarding their knowledge, few necessities, and affection for others.

Strengths in the Workplace: Type Fives are, as Ian Morgan Cron puts it, “valued for their cool, clear, pioneering, analytical minds.” Their innovative minds can be used to introduce new methods or ideas that have the potential to transform organizations and even the world. Fives are not only knowledgeable but also understand how to analyze and interpret research quickly and effectively. Often ahead of their time, they are known as “visionary pioneers” when in leadership positions. Because they crave independence, Fives know personal boundaries and how to respect the boundaries of others. They are confident in their abilities of things they do well, but also value improvement and are open-minded to criticism.

Make use of your strengths by:

  • Using your ability to gather and organize information skillfully to bring fresh ideas to your organization.
  • Sharing your expertise with your team members so they can gain knowledge, too.
  • Using your visionary skills to find ways to move your organization/cause forward positively and make a difference in the world.
  • Embracing your confidence and ability to make wise decisions that helps your organization make logical choices as a whole.

male scientist looking into a microscope in a labChallenges in the Workplace: Because Fives are immersed in their data-driven worlds, they have difficulty communicating with coworkers on a human level. They struggle at times with group decisions, free-association team brainstorming sessions, long discussions, and meetings; in their minds, group gatherings are threats to their independence. Fives struggle with tackling tasks that make them feel unqualified or as if their knowledge isn’t adequate. When facing numerous tasks and/or big projects, they often feel overwhelmed because they want to solve every problem and find every unknown possible, as quickly as possible.

Challenge yourself and grow in weakness by:

  • Being aware that your independence can cause coworkers to feel isolated. Go out of your way to intentionally communicate with coworkers and connect with them regularly.
  • Being patient when involved in group situations that seem taxing; you crave working autonomously, but collaboration is useful, too.
  • Working on tasks that make you feel inadequate or uncomfortable. View them as a growing experience.
  • Focusing on simple steps you can take to get tasks done when you feel overwhelmed with several projects. Prioritize them one at a time, make a list, use a planner, or implement project management software into your routine.

Popular Career Choices: Type Fives embrace careers where they can be innovators and thinkers. They are wonderful engineers, librarians, computer programmers, scientific researchers, psychologists, and professors. Fives thrive in science-based and technological careers, like physicists and web developers. Their mastery of observation often makes for them being great artists, and their calmness in crises’ makes Fives fantastic emergency room doctors and EMTs.

“I think the strengths listed are spot on! In my organization, there is a constant learning curve from team members on other campuses. I love hearing what’s working for them and challenging my team to implement new strategies to empower the students and coaches we come in contact with. I also relate to a lot of the challenges, specifically in the independence area. I love the communication aspects of my job, but I can tell when I need a recharge and my mindset shifts into the “hoarding information” mode mentioned.” —An Enneagram 5 Nonprofit Area Representative


TYPE 6: THE LOYALIST

a group of coworkers cheering one of their team members onOverview: Reliable, steadfast, and trustworthy, sixes are loyal to the core. They are the most faithful and dependable Enneagram Type and are incredibly vigilant. Enneagram teachers believe that Sixes make up half of the world’s population! The biggest desire of Sixes is to feel secure, supported, and have consistency in their life. Sixes appreciation devotion; they may be skeptical of people at first, but once you’ve won their trust, they are loyal to you for life. Community is highly valuable to a Six, and they foster cooperation in teams as they foresee potential problems and abide with caution. Their ability to foresee potential problems often leads them to immensely struggle with fear, self-doubt, and suspicion. Sixes suffer from anxiety and “analysis paralysis” as they feel pulled and pushed with their ever-changing doubts and questions. Their emotional behavior is often defiant and reactive.

Strengths in the Workplace: Sixes spot potential problems early on in projects and situations that others may bypass. Their attentiveness enables Sixes to be the ultimate troubleshooters of issues. They bring the perfect balance into the workplace of being able to foresee potential challenges while having an optimistic spirit. Once Sixes are devoted to an organization, they are loyal for the long haul and pledge their allegiance to their cause. Due to their loyalty, they won’t throw colleagues under the bus or try to take credit for others’ work—which is much appreciated by their coworkers.

Make use of your strengths by:

  • Using your knowledge to create safety and structure in the workplace. Eliminate risk and speak up if you see someone heading in a dangerous direction.
  • Unifying your team as you show them your high levels of commitment to your work, your teammates, and your organization’s mission. You set an example that will hopefully inspire others to follow suit and bring greater camaraderie to your office.
  • Using your optimism and dependability to show value to your coworkers and clients.
  • Giving credit where credit is due. Your loyalty will go far with your colleagues.

female teacher writing on a white boardChallenges in the Workplace: Sixes have an overly cautious nature—which can be harmful or helpful depending on how caution is used. In the workplace, overused caution can lead to Sixes being suspicious and doubtful of themselves and their coworkers. Sixes also fear making premature decisions because they want absolute certainty of what is going to happen before making a decision—which is often difficult. Change in the workplace is hard for Sixes to process, as change, in general, produces fear and anxiety in them. Sixes also tend to struggle with completing tasks; to them, thinking something is often the same thing as doing something.

Challenge yourself and grow in weakness by:

  • Using your loyalty to err on the positive side and champion your coworkers courageously.
  • Accepting the unknown and making decisions even when uncertainty is part of the picture. Ask unpopular, difficult questions; just don’t be afraid of uncertainty.
  • Remembering that thinking something is not the same as doing it. Make sure you get things done by using productivity apps or project management sites to track your progress. You can use these same tools to avoid taking on too much and to break down your tasks easily.
  • Processing your fears and anxieties when change occurs in a healthy way that will allow you to validate positive change in the workplace (and in general). If needed, use meditation and other tactics to manage anxiety.

Popular Career Choices: Sixes love to commit themselves wholeheartedly to an organization or cause and love to be in positions where they can anticipate problems and protect others in their working environment. They also love being placed in positions where they can solve problems. Sixes make excellent teachers, nonprofit leaders, security guards, policemen, detectives, occupational health specialists, and emergency management directors. They thrive in positions where they take care of others, such as caretakers, doctors, nurses, and childcare workers.

“Even before I knew about the Enneagram, I always considered my ability to foresee any potential problems as one of my greatest strengths. When problems arise, I give input to help my team, always in a way that respects authority. Recently, I have realized that I find it hard to have confidence in my decisions at work because I am afraid of appearing to be disrespectful to authority figures, so I am learning to communicate where I am coming from to my team leaders. Doing so helps me overcome the fear of coming across as disrespectful. Also, overly cautious describes me well.” —An Enneagram 6 Restaurant Worker


TYPE 7: THE ENTHUSIAST

male creating a strategy on a white boardOverview: Enthusiasts are known for being extroverted, spontaneous, and playful—AKA the life of the party! Their optimistic, versatile, curious, and high-spirited selves are always seeking exciting new experiences, and they have a love for life itself. They thrive off pleasure and the thrill of expectancy leading up to their experience. When content, they focus less on manufacturing happiness and more on spreading joy regardless of whatever circumstances they may face. However, when discontent, they use their ability to keep things lively to avoid feeling pain. They tend to take negative situations and, as Cron says, “recast [the situation] in a positive light to skirt feeling the pain you and I would experience if the same thing happened to us.” They typically struggle with impatience, impulsiveness, self-discipline, and over-extending themselves.

Strengths in the Workplace: Sevens are the dreamers, the initiators…the ones with the endless stream of ideas that will help organizations avoid staying stagnant and become better than ever before. Cron says, “Give [Sevens] a dry-erase marker and a white board and step out of the way.” They bring high energy and creative juice to a company and are visionaries that can see the big picture results of their ideas. Because they are friendly and popular, colleagues love working with Sevens on teams since the conflict will likely be minimal. They bring variety, spontaneity, and optimism to workplace cultures that cultivates a healthy working environment. They also see opportunities where others see challenges.

Make use of your strengths by:

  • Synthesizing information, seeing what often goes unseen by others, and generating ideas for your company.
  • Using your creativity and passion to move projects along at a quick pace when needed.
  • Building a supportive team culture. Use your optimism to see the best in others and speak to their positive attributes, as well as to advance your organization’s mission forward.
  • Showing others the opportunities that can come from what seems like a negative or challenging situation.

female travel photographer taking photos at a monumentChallenges in the Workplace: Sevens tend to take on too many projects at once because they are eager to see their ideas come into fruition. They struggle with saying yes to everything, as well as managing and maintain projects because they are impatient and want to be set loose on a new venture.  They tend to focus on their losses or what they haven’t achieved instead of celebrating their successes (which causes them to, again, take on too many projects in hopes of finding success). Because they avoid emotions like the plague, they steer clear of letting their coworkers talk to them about their problems.

Challenge yourself and grow in weakness by:

  • Committing to fewer ideas and seeing the ones that are in the execution phase all the way to the finish line. Be aware that when you work on too many projects, it can cause limitations instead of achieving freedom.
  • Thinking through ideas in a logical way to make sure they are beneficial for the whole organization and are in the best interest of others on your team.
  • Allowing others to talk to you about what they are struggling with.
  • Celebrating your former successes as well as the positives of what you’re currently working on. Grow and learn from your failures, but do not focus SOLELY on them.

Popular Career Choices: Sevens gravitate towards careers where they can enjoy spontaneity and adventure. They thrive in fast-paced environments that afford them flexibility, independence, and the ability to be creative; Sevens bypass mundane tasks at all costs! They love careers with elements of travel, such as travel writers, photographers, travel agents, tour guides, flight attendants, and pilots. Sevens also enjoy creative careers in general, such as artists, interior designers, publicists, musicians, and event planners. And, they often succeed as entrepreneurs because they are excellent visionaries.

“The social, spontaneity, and variety aspects are very relatable to me. I am not creative in topics I have no interest in (for example, entrepreneurship) but I am excellent at creating new approaches to political battles in our country, as I am passionate about politics. Give me a few books to read, and I’ll come up with a list of new policies (or lack of official policy, as the case may be) to address issues. I am working to focus on successes more than failures. The way I challenge myself is to improve my talents and strengths while making sure that my faults don’t harm anyone else. Sevens are essentially action-based (at least I am!)” —An Enneagram 7 Law Student


BONUS CONTENT:

CENTERS OVERVIEW:

As mentioned above, the Enneagram is divided into three groups of three, called Centers. Three Enneagram Types are a part of each Center, and all three types have similar strengths, weaknesses, and dominant emotions.

  • Feelings play a big role in the reactions of Types 2-4, so their Center is the Feeling Center. Their dominant emotion is shame.
  • Types 5-7 are included in the Thinking Center, as they react after analyzing and thinking deeply about situations. They struggle with fear.
  • The instinctual reactions of Types 8, 9, & 1 are the basis for their Center─the Instinctive Center. Their emotional theme is anger.

INTRODUCTORY RESOURCES:

  • This list has several Enneagram testing options to choose from, ranging in price from free to $60+.
  • I recommend reading The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. Ian also has a podcast about the Enneagram.
  • The Enneagram Institute is an Internet hub full of Enneagram information—perfect for beginners wanting to learn more about the Enneagram.
  • If you’re more of a video person, InnerLifeSkills offers a free, 90-minute introductory Enneagram course. The course is broken down into several shorter videos so you can watch the videos over a period of time, if you choose.

REFERENCES:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marah Whitaker headshot

Hi! My name is Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M). I am the Marketing Assistant for UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, I spend time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with our customer base. During my free time, you can find me getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, I aspire to live by the Mr. Feeny quote, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” I strive to use my passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around me. 

Connect with me on LinkedIn.