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The Nine Enneagram Personality Types

Updated 19 February 2021

Written by Fi Phillips

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The Enneagram test, also known as the Enneagram of Personality, is a psychological model of nine personality types, each of which carries their own drives, fears and characteristics.

With its origins in the distant past, the modern model of the Enneagram was developed in the twentieth century, leading to the currently used personality test.

Knowledge of your Enneagram type can prove useful when seeking insight into your personality and self-development.

For more information on how the Enneagram personality test works, read Enneagram Personality Test: All You Need To Know.

What Are the Nine Enneagram Personality Types?

The nine personality types fall into three groupings:

  • The Feeling center: types 2, 3 and 4
  • The Thinking center: types 5, 6 and 7
  • The Intuitive center: types 8, 9 and 1

The order of the personality types, running from one to nine, does not point to any personality type being better or worse than another. Each is of equal value.

Let's explore each one:

1. The Reformer

As their name would suggest, Reformers want to change the world for the better. They have a strong sense of justice and are sure they know exactly how things should be done. They are conscientious, well-organized and strive to live up to a high moral standard.

Following their sense of mission and ethics, however, can lead Reformers to overthink things, and in so doing, delay taking action. They can become critical, of themselves and others, and feel that they must exercise self-control to the point of resentment and impatience. Reformers often feel they must justify their actions.

  • Strengths: Hard-working, ethical and honest
  • Weaknesses: Can become resentful, overly critical and hampered by perfectionism
  • Motivations: To be useful, beyond criticism, and to make everything the best it can be

In a work environment, the Reformer is a conscientious, well-organized employee with an eye on the well being of the organization and its mission, sometimes to the point of self-sacrifice.

However, this relentless work ethic can lead to burn-out, resentfulness and becoming highly-critical of colleagues who do not meet the Reformer’s standards. Reformers do not handle failure or delay well.

Lessons to learn at work include:

  • Learn to compromise sometimes
  • Take time to look after yourself to avoid burn-out
  • Swap perfectionism for a ‘good enough for now’ approach

2. The Helper

Helpers are friendly, caring and generous-hearted individuals who help others to see the best in themselves. They genuinely want to help people and can exhibit a high level of empathy towards those they encounter.

Helpers are the altruists of the Enneagram personality types and feel unconditional love towards mankind.

At their most insecure, however, Helpers can become possessive, use flattery to make connections, and may base their worth on what others think of them and through self-sacrifice.

  • Strengths: Caring, a good communicator and sincere
  • Weaknesses: Seeking validation through others, possessiveness and manipulating others
  • Motivations: To be needed and appreciated, to prove their self-worth and to express their emotions

At work, as in the rest of their life, Helpers are all about making connections. They can be warm, considerate and supportive of their colleagues. Helpers will remember birthdays, provide a shoulder to cry on and do their best to create an inclusive environment.

The flip-side to this is that unless they feel that their efforts are appreciated, they can become intrusive, resentful and overpowering.

Lessons to learn at work include:

  • Do not turn into a people pleaser to feel appreciated
  • Recognize, place a value on and state your own needs
  • Build self-worth that is not dependent on the opinions of others

3. The Achiever

When it comes to polished confidence and charm, the Achiever has it all. This Enneagram personality type strives to succeed, is popular, attractive and ambitious.

These are highly driven individuals who attract admiration through their accomplishments. At their best, they can be generous, authentic and gracious role models.

When the Achiever does not feel fulfilled, however, they can become overly concerned with their status and reputation, over-competitive, and dependent on the recognition of others.

They can easily become a workaholic to such an extent that they lose sight of who they really are in their drive to succeed.

  • Strengths: Charming, driven and competent
  • Weaknesses: Prone to being a workaholic, self-deceit and basing their self-worth on their success
  • Motivations: Recognition of their accomplishments, to set themselves apart from others based on their success and to be admired

In a work environment, Achievers are productive and energetic high-performers. They can ‘read the room’, intuitively finding their place. They understand what is expected of them and exactly how to achieve or even excel in those expectations.

However, they may lose sight of themselves in their drive to make a good impression, experience self-doubt, suffer from exhaustion and ultimately become isolated from their colleagues.

Lessons to learn at work include:

  • Take a break and check-in with yourself regularly so you do not suffer from burn-out and self-deception
  • Find self-worth, instead of worth earned by the recognition of your success by others
  • Realize the value of reality over status

4. The Individualist

Individualists are creative, emotionally self-aware and honest, and have the strength to withstand great suffering. They accept themselves, the good and the bad, and seek to understand their own self-development.

At their best, they can be both inspirational and creatively inspired.

The down-side to this self-awareness is the need to protect their uniqueness as a safeguard against their faults and how the world sees them.

The Individualist sees themselves as different from anyone else and that others, therefore, cannot understand them. They may feel self-conscious, incomplete and fall into melancholic moods as a result. In such a frame of mind, they may withdraw from others.

  • Strengths: Creative, emotionally deep and compassionate
  • Weaknesses: Moodiness, can become withdrawn and can avoid what they see as mundane tasks
  • Motivations: To be seen as a unique individual, to be surrounded by beauty and to be balanced

An Individualist at work often brings a unique viewpoint to the tasks and missions at hand and is happy to face difficult topics that other colleagues may avoid. They are happiest when working in a beautiful, artistic environment.

Individualists do not enjoy what they see to be mundane tasks and may slip away into their internal world when faced with work that does not inspire them.

Lessons to learn at work include:

  • Learn to focus on mundane tasks and not become demotivated or procrastinate
  • Do not compare yourself with others
  • Do not withdraw from others
The Nine Enneagram Personality TypesThe Nine Enneagram Personality Types

5. The Investigator

Investigators are innovative thinkers who are driven to understand how the world around them works. They are inventive and focussed, easily developing complex ideas and concepts. They are curious and have a relentless drive to question the truth, seeking to arrive at their own conclusions.

This rejection of what everyone else believes to be true can, however, lead the Investigator to become withdrawn and preoccupied with their thoughts, which in turn can often mean that Investigators are seen as eccentric, intense and even nihilistic.

  • Strengths: Independent thinker, intellectual and ahead of their time
  • Weaknesses: Can become detached and wrapped up in their thoughts, can neglect their well being and may not easily trust others
  • Motivations: To understand the world around them, to seek their own truths and be protected against the unexpected

In a work environment, the most talented, diligent and enthusiastic researchers are generally Investigators. They are drawn to learning to a point that they may fail to interact with their colleagues and become detached. Having said that, they will happily express the new truths that they reach.

Investigators are generally more comfortable dealing with people on a one-to-one basis than in a group, although even that can exhaust them emotionally.

Lessons to learn at work include:

  • Know when to end your research and reach a conclusion
  • Consider the impact that insensitive comments and aloofness may have on your colleagues
  • Do not reject or look down on the opinions of others

6. The Loyalist

As their name would suggest, the Loyalist can be extremely loyal to the people around them and to their own current beliefs and values.

They are caring, responsible and trustworthy individuals who have a knack for seeing risks and problems long before they arise. The Loyalist can be relied on to be supportive and co-operative.

The loyalty shown by this Enneagram personality type, however, does not always stretch to themselves.

The Loyalist will often ignore their well being to stay loyal to others or to a belief. In their need for security and support, they will often switch allegiances and beliefs, fiercely defending whichever is current to their needs.

Loyalists find it difficult to develop self-awareness, relying on the opinions and support of others instead.

  • Strengths: Loyalty, co-operative nature and strategic thinking
  • Weaknesses: Self-doubt, a need to be supported and guided, and suspicious of others
  • Motivations: To feel secure and supported, to have certainty in their life, and to predict any threat

At work, the Loyalist is a supportive, co-operative team-member. They are excellent trouble-shooters, not only recognizing future risks and problems but also developing strategies to cope with those risks. They may idealize their leader or managerial figure, a situation which can become problematic should that individual fail to maintain the Loyalist’s lofty expectations of them.

Lessons to learn at work include:

  • Reach your own conclusions instead of relying on the opinions of others
  • Do not let your self-doubt lead to worry and procrastination
  • Accept that people are human and should not be idealized or followed with blind loyalty

7. The Enthusiast

In the same way that Loyalists can foresee risks and problems, Enthusiasts also have a knack for anticipating what may happen. However, the Enthusiast handles this foresight with optimism and a sense of adventure.

Enthusiasts are always on the go, picking ideas seemingly out of the air. They find it easy to adapt to new situations and challenges.

This constant adventuring can often lead to the Enthusiast becoming scattered and overwhelmed by just how much new information they have taken on board.

Reluctant to turn to their own inner self-guidance, the Enthusiast will often try everything to find out what works, again adding to their sense of overwhelm.

Enthusiasts can be impatient and impulsive, often leading to frustration and, finally, exhaustion.

  • Strengths: Idea generators, versatile and adventurous
  • Weaknesses: Can be scattered, impatient and make bad decisions
  • Motivations: To be free and happy, to avoid suffering and pain, and to be stimulated

An Enthusiast at work will be the colleague who constantly comes up with new ideas, seeks to learn more and more, and has a knack for motivating those around them with their optimism and playful approach.

However, for all their boundless energy at the beginning of a project, they are less positive about finishing tasks. An Enthusiast will cheerfully take on a workload that is beyond their time or abilities to complete without experiencing some level of discomfort.

Lessons to learn at work include:

  • Listen to the opinions of colleagues who do not agree with you, rather than simply dismissing them as negative
  • Be realistic about your workload – just how much can be done in the available time?
  • Finish what you start

8. The Challenger

This Enneagram personality type is so-named not just because they can be challenging, but also because they will happily shoulder challenges. They are also key in helping others to similarly take on challenges.

Challengers are confident, assertive and comfortable with decision-making. They can also be protective, reassuring and charismatic.

The flip-side to such a straight-talking and forceful character is that they can also be overbearing, confrontational and seek to intimidate to hide their vulnerability. They may attempt to control others and in turn have anger issues.

The Challenger wants to be in control and indebted to no one, so they may reject or attack others in a bid to maintain their independence.

  • Strengths: Good at decision making, happy to take on challenges and at their best, can inspire others
  • Weaknesses: Domineering, confrontational and ego-centric
  • Motivations: To be independent, to be seen as a strong and capable individual, and to be in control

In a work environment, the Challenger is straight-talking, assertive, and often protective of their team and colleagues.

At their best, they will not only take on challenging workloads themselves but will enable colleagues to do the same.

They are happy to be in charge of a project or team due to their need for control, but if they become displeased with a colleague, the Challenger can become confrontational, angry and aggressive.

Lessons to learn at work:

  • Learn to delegate instead of attempting to maintain control of everything
  • Develop listening and motivational skills
  • Recognize and appreciate the different skill sets that colleagues bring to the table

9. The Peacemaker

Peacemakers value both inner and outer harmony above all else. This personality type is supporting, stable and trusting.

Generally, Peacemakers have a healthy balance between spirituality and being well-grounded and centered. Peacemakers are creative, optimistic and have a talent for uniting individuals into a group.

The downside to the Peacemaker’s drive to establish harmony is their avoidance of conflict.

Often, they will take the easy and less stressful path to avoid factors that may disturb the harmony they seek. Unfortunately, such a path may not always lead to a satisfactory destination for the Peacemaker.

This personality type can be complacent, stubborn and at times of strife, may withdraw into their internal world.

  • Strengths: Have a talent for bringing people together, stable and harmonious
  • Weaknesses: Can avoid conflict and harsh truths, be ambivalent, and dismiss details to reach a simple solution
  • Motivations: To create harmony, to avoid conflict and to maintain the world as it is

At work, Peacemakers make excellent mediators because they can see differing viewpoints and bring conflicting parties together. They are easy to speak to, encouraging, and able to create a safe environment for their colleagues.

However, Peacemakers may not always handle tasks that require an eye for detail well because they tend to seek an obvious or simple solution. They may resist or avoid conflict, and hence make bad decisions that enable them to escape.

Lessons to learn at work:

  • Push through uncomfortable situations and tasks, rather than avoiding them to maintain harmony
  • Gather all the information needed to reach a conclusion or finish a job, instead of jumping to an obvious or simple solution without supporting evidence
  • Do not ignore your own needs to keep the peace

Which Enneagram Personality Is the Rarest and Most Common?

The rarest Enneagram personality type appears to be the Individualist. However, this perception of rarity may be caused by the fact that most Individualists are introverts who naturally avoid large groups of people, thus reducing the chance of meeting one.

The most common Enneagram personality types appear to be Enthusiasts, Loyalists and Peacemakers.

Loyalists and Enthusiasts are both assertive, confident types who are easy to spot, which again may point to the fact that it is only a perception that these two types are common.

By comparison, Peacemakers are not so obvious because they avoid conflict.

However, the growing popularity of self-help material available would suggest that there is an audience seeking self-knowledge in an attempt to avoid conflict, which would point to a growing audience of Peacemakers.

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Final Thoughts

As with any personality test, the Enneagram will provide you with a framework from which to begin your self-development, by recognizing the strengths, motivations and challenges of your personality type.

For more information on where you can take the Enneagram personality test, read Enneagram Personality Test: All You Need To Know.

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