The Enneagram – the first step in personal mastery

by Barry Ahern (from “First Train” October 2006, Vol. 1 Issue 2) Imagine you suddenly received a road map that gave you profound psychological insights into how you thought and felt and related to other people. How do you think you would react if you were willing to be open to the experience? Such is the accuracy of the Enneagram in describing nine personality styles, each of which illustrates a distinctive pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving that a common response is to describe the experience as being ‘so real that it’s eerie’. You can be taken aback, overawed or pleasantly surprised by the reality of discovering a description that is so much part of your way of being. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is fast becoming the greatest indicator of success in every occupation and every industry worldwide, surpassing IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and on the job experience. This is especially true in leadership. The Enneagram, a psychological system with ancient roots, is fast becoming the most powerful and insightful tool available to help you develop your EQ. The Enneagram describes the starting point each of us take when dealing with information, our colleagues and our work environment. Much attention nowadays is given to the importance of giving and receiving feedback, which, together with lack of performance expectations and lack of skills, lack of feedback has been recognized as one of the top three barriers to effective work performance. Probably our first objective encounter with ourselves is when we hear our voices on an audio and/or visual recording for the first time. Most of us react negatively to the experience. However,...

What Type is APPLE founder Steve Jobs?

Leadership in Business and Innovation  by Barry Ahern I’ve been very resistant to typing public figures. Why does it matter? While many of us might do it privately, going public needs care. In one sense there is certain arrogance about it. This is especially true where there isn’t much evidence to back it up. It’s so easy to label someone using superficial evidence. For instance, just because people might have a reputation for perfectionism doesn’t necessarily follow that they’re Ones. Over the years I’ve seen very experienced Enneagram practitioners completely mistype people, including my wife, who had known her type for years, while she was attending an Enneagram conference some years ago.  I know several people whose type still eludes me. One of them has identified herself as an Eight, yet her adult children see her as a type 7. One of her best friends, a Seven, can’t see her as that type. However, the best clues are often found in the subtype. In the end we don’t need to know someone’s type to have good and productive relationships with them.  So, it’s worth asking the question why we do it? Is it just for ego satisfaction? My initial reactions to Jobs as I read Walter Isaacson’s recent biography were quite negative. He comes across as a very driven man who was ruthless in making demands on others. There is a volatility of temperament that runs though all his relationships. He often lacks empathy in dealing with friends, employees and lovers. He could quite readily verbally abuse his staff for work he considered inferior, whether it was warranted or...

Creating a New Leadership Model for a Socially Sustainable and Violence Free Europe

A Study commissioned for a member of the European Parliament April 2014 by Barry Ahern The European Union is one of the most inspiring political projects in history but today its existence is hanging by a thread.  Joschka Fischer former German Green Leader and Foreign  Minister has spoken in  apocalyptic terms about a possible break-up: “Germany destroyed itself – and the European order – twice in the twentieth century. It would be both tragic and ironic if a restored Germany, by peaceful means and with the best of intentions, brought about the ruin of the European order a third time.” European leaders are facing up to the fact that the current EU can neither survive this crisis nor prevent the next one. The attempt to enforce rules and punish offenders regardless of the effect on the real economy has led to a revolt in deficit countries and  has created paralysis by stimulating populism. . The result of this approach to the crisis has been to exacerbate the flaws of an integration process that has narrowed the space for political decisions at the national level without increasing it at the European level. Europe now needs a different model of integration based on politics rather than technocracy and rewards for reform rather than only the threat of sanctions. In the place of a “two-class” Europe in which decisions are taken behind closed doors by a self-imposed Directoire and offered to others on a take-it-or leave it basis, we call for a political and participative Europe. At the level of member states, there must be a system of governance that relies more...

Your E-mails Communicate More Than You Think

By Ginger Lapid-Bogda. Ph.D. Most of us write multiple e-mails every day, yet how often do we think about the many messages they convey beyond our actual content and intended impact? Our e-mails actually communicate information that can cause unintended negative and positive reactions in the e-mail recipient. Moreover, our e-mail writing styles actually reflect our Enneagram styles. The Enneagram is a psychological-spiritual system that maps and explains the nine different architectures of the personality. The word enneagram comes from the Greek words ennea (“nine”) and gram (“something written or drawn”) and refers to the nine points on the Enneagram symbol. The nine different Enneagram styles, identified as numbers One through Nine, reflect distinct habits of thinking, feeling, and behaving, with each style connected to a unique path of development. The Enneagram Symbol When we use the Enneagram as a way of understanding our e-mail communication styles, we not only improve the way in which we communicate with others, we also learn more about ourselves and dramatically increase our personal and professional development. “It can’t be that easy,” Janice exclaimed. “You mean I can actually change my habits while I’m writing my e-mails?” Janice, a Four, had learned that Fours unconsciously engage in self-referencing behavior — actions that pull the conversation and attention away from the other person and toward the Four. One way Fours do this is by frequently using the words I, me, my, and mine. In the two short sentences above, Janice used these words four times. “In answer to your question, yes, you can,” said the Enneagram consultant. “In the two sentences you just said,...

Understanding Politics through the Enneagram

By Barry Ahern The drive from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, to Belfast, which is part of the United Kingdom, is a journey of 104 miles. After driving about 70 miles you arrive at the border.  As you approached the border during the nineteen eighties and nineties, you encountered as series of obstacles of various kinds due to the security situation at the time. Crossing the border at that time you’d see signs ordering vehicles to turn off all audio equipment. The British army had listening devices that enabled them to overhear conversations in cars. Those who knew this usually ignored the request. Large ramps were erected to ensure you drove slowly. Driving at over 20 miles per hour would cause damage to the suspension. A military lookout post was poised on the top of the highest hill in the area just over the border on the road to the nearest town called Newry. The whole area could be surveyed silently from here. No one knew when anyone was inside watching as the windows in the viewing area were tinted. Occasionally the sound of a helicopter scanning the border area could be heard hovering overhead. The border post itself was manned with soldiers, guns at the ready, standing around in the compound into which all cars drove in single file. No one was allowed through until they were inspected. This no man’s land was framed by tall corrugated iron sheeting. Huts with tiny lookout holes for the video cameras and listening devices watched the cars silently. Young paratroopers with British accents, guns at the ready, would ask for...

Roy Keane and the World Cup

 By Barry Ahern “Is there anyone out there who sees this from my point of view?” was probably one of the most familiar thoughts being repeated by the public as they grappled with the Roy Keane v Mick McCarthy debacle during the run up to the World Cup in 2002. Although it happened a long time ago, it’s interesting to see that the pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving, that became so public at the time, is still playing out. Roy Keane, one of the best footballers that Ireland ever produced, had just walked away from playing for his country because he found the arrangements for team preparation unacceptable. The whole country set itself alight discussing the controversy.  It seemed everyone had an opinion as to what happened and how to deal with the situation. Roy Keane, one of the best footballers in the world at the time, had walked away from the Irish team on the eve of their participation in the world cup due to a disagreement with the manager, Mick McCarthy. It is a rare occasion for most of us to stand back and reflect on our own reactions. The main sports protagonists probably didn’t either; they were too busy defending their respective arguments. Yet those who took time to reflect probably wondered why people offered so many solutions and yet no one seemed to be able to apply them in a constructive way. What we knew for sure was the fact that there was a total breakdown in communication between the Keane and Mc Carthy camps. Commentators made constant references to the failings on both...