SARAH BRAUD Contributor & CEO Braud Creative
Leadership Style of a Six
It’s no secret that I am a Game of Thrones fangirl, because at some point you have to stop using all your examples from Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia, you know?
Game of Thrones offers a veritable buffet of leaders to analyze, their lifelong transformational journeys are right there condensed into seven seasons (HBO just announced the final season 8 will be only 4 episodes to be released in 2019 – oh, the agony of the wait.)
Although there are more than a few Sixes to choose from (Sir Davos, Gilly, Samwell Tarly, for starters), the most representative archetype of the Six can be seen in the institution of the Night’s Watch, a military order dedicated to standing guard at the wall that borders and protects the realms of men from what’s lurking beyond.
The most prominent indicator for if someone is this type of archetype is the sheer number of questions a Six can ask. They like to cover all their bases.
The need for security is the main driver of the Six leader. The Six has also been called the Loyal Skeptic, Troubleshooter, Devil’s Advocate, and lover of the game “Worst Case Scenario.” Being on the lookout for the dangers in the world and being 100% prepared for them is the life calling of a Six. Think Boy Scouts. Or, for my Game of Thrones fans, the vow recruits must make before being accepted in the Night’s Watch:
Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.
-Pledge of the Night Watch
The Night’s Watch vow is the vow every Six leader wants to hear and uphold. They are reliable leaders that can accurately assess risks and threats. They are great problem solvers, insightful and analytical strategists, and their ability to create systems and follow them with precision and attention to their process is commendable.Their natural desire to find security in authority can often hinder Sixes from trusting themselves. #enneagram6 #leadershipreality @braudknows Click To Tweet
The Problem with a Six Leader
As you would suspect — along with being the most prepared for crisis —Sixes’ hyper-vigilance can spiral into overwhelming anxiety. Their natural desire to find security in authority can often hinder Sixes from trusting themselves.
Loyalists lead from their head center, which means they are thinkers. Just like the other numbers in the 3-6-9 Head Triad, their strength is also their weakness. Thoughts can be repressed and so Sixes get stuck in a thought cycle and their thinking becomes unproductive.
For instance, my good friend, knowing what I was writing about, shared a text from her sister who is clearly an Enneagram Six:
On another note: which suit at H&M did you get him? Regular, slim, skinny? What color is it called? And is that what he’s wearing at the wedding? Will they match? And should all the boys match or if we got another color what would it be? Sorry for questions, just thought I’d go ahead and get one now in case it doesn’t fit and we need to look elsewhere. And are they in store or only online?
The just in case and what if can be an exhausting way to live for both the Six and those around them. But in case you are starting to feel bad about yourself as a Six, know that around 30% of the population fall into this personality type so you are not alone!
Invitation for Sixes to Grow as Leaders
Invitation: It’s okay to trust yourself!
Sixes, this invitation is your mantra. According to Suzanne Stabile’s The Enneagram Journey, the key to growth and living a healthier, “higher side” of your number, is to shift your motivation. You can never rid yourself, nor should you try, of the motivation to find security, but rather move toward the motivation of trusting yourself. You don’t have to always gather all the research necessary to make the “safest” choice. Though you may never totally escape the idea that the world is a dangerous place, you can learn to embrace your own ability to know what is best for you and your team.
Jill Philips, a singer/songwriter from Nashville, has recently been trained in Enneagram leadership by Suzanne Stabile, co-author of The Road Back to You. I took a course from Jill and experienced her Sixness:
5 Steps for Enneagram Sixes to Become Better Leaders
- Turn off your autopilot. Your personality traps cause you to catastrophize your life. Conjuring up worst case scenarios is actually a statistically unproductive use of your time.
- Plan for your future by scanning for the good that is ahead. Again, your natural inclination will be to scan ahead for what is unsafe or the danger that might come. Instead, look ahead to see what good might be coming down the pike.
- Triage your problems. Think of your thoughts as an emergency room. Triage them as they come in. Is this perception of danger real or imagined? Does this problem need an actual solution or is it as problematic as I think it is?
- Trust your resume. You did not get into your position by accident. Whether your leadership is at home, in your own practice or in a Fortune 500 company, the same is true: you have skills, collected knowledge, and wisdom to trust yourself with whatever it is before you. You got this!
- Open up to others. Your doubt or skepticism in others may be grounded in unrealistic expectations, and it could be just fear. Have you kept yourself at arms distance in an attempt to protect yourself at the cost of being known, helped, or collaborated with? Beatrice Chestnut encourages this leadership archetype to learn to tell the difference between your insight/intuition and projection.
As a leader, you are on a journey of transformation. As a Six, your journey is one from fear and insecurity to one of self-trust, from problem-seeking to problem solving, and from cynicism to connection. True transformation happens when you become a student of your own thoughts and hone the ability to scan them for real or projected threats. Trust yourself.
Further Developing Your Awareness
If the enneagram interests you, several sources are available for developing a deeper understanding of your type. Here are just a few we here at Leadership Reality love:
9 Types of Leadership by Beatrice Chestnut
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Think You Might Be a Six?
Sign up to take the Enneagram Test with Leadership Reality and know for sure. If you’d like your team to hear an overview about the enneagram and how it can be used to improve their leadership skills, consider at Lunch & Learn Enneagram Workshop for Your Team! For either request, email us at [email protected]
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