SARAH BRAUD Contributor & CEO Braud Creative
Leadership Style of a Nine
The Nine. The Crown of the enneagram. The Archetype that reflects all the other numbers, so much so that they have a hard time identifying themselves as Nines. Accommodating, supportive, non-judgmental, practical and hard-working, the Nine leader will sacrifice extensively for a genuine concern for those on their team, working tirelessly to promote the agenda of their organization or community.
Every true Nine would cringe at any description that draws such positive attention to themselves, however, these leaders are so easy to like. The archetypal leader who is digging in the ditches alongside her people, often called The Peacemaker or The Mediator, leads by example and by reaching consensus.
The Problem with a Nine Leader
The leadership style of the Nine begins with gathering people together and then letting everyone else shine, often leaving their own opinion out of the conversation altogether. Instead of voicing their concerns, Nines would rather not rock the boat. The problem with not rocking the boat is that you may just be steadily sinking in denial (which ain’t just a river in Egypt).
Another huge struggle for a Nine is delegation. Brentwood Academy varsity track coach Brad Perry, awarded Coach of the Year multiple years running for the state of Tennessee, has begrudgingly admitted to his Nine-ness. Aside from thinking that 9’s are the “boring ones,” Brad also confesses the classic Nine struggle to delegate, taking on more and more responsibilities while simultaneously thinking his contribution is not significant.
[bctt tweet=”The problem with not rocking the boat is that you may just be steadily sinking in denial — which ain’t just a river in Egypt. #enneagram9 #5RealStepsForward @braudknows” username=”LeaderReality”]
Invitation for Nines to Grow as Leaders
Invitation: Accept that your presence matters.
Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood showed the world one of the most lovable and, well, neighborly Nines there ever was. Mr. Roger’s wasn’t flashy, and he certainly didn’t try to draw attention to his own success, but he did show up for the world. He knew there was a message to be shared and so he committed himself to it. “The greatest gift you ever give,” he once said, “is your honest self.”
Meghan Lucido, who works in network expansion for The Dispensary of Hope —a non-profit drug distributor which connects donated medicine with individuals in need — talked with me about work life as a Nine:
“I would prefer a world that just worked instead of feeling like I’m constantly being asked to be assertive. The older I get, the more I realize (or maybe I’ve just realized in this moment!) that being assertive is not equal to being confrontational. I assume that others are going to push back against my assertiveness – in reality, my experience has been that most good relationships and work places foster an environment in which someone like me, who struggles between wanting to share my ideas and hide under a rock, has a safe place to be heard. Not only heard, but also encouraged and recognized for good work and ideas.
Growth for me shows up as confidence and not second guessing if my presentation was done well, if the time and effort I put into a project is valued, and feeling sure in my own right instead of looking for validation in other’s words and assurances. It is being self aware and having a belief at my core that I am good, genuine, smart, and capable.”
[bctt tweet=”The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self. – Fred Rogers #improudofyou #enneagram9 #leadershipreality” username=”LeaderReality”]
5 Steps for Enneagram Nines to Become Better Leaders
- Prioritize your to-do list. I talked with Meghan about how Nines are doers, but often times do what doesn’t necessarily need to be done.
“This made me laugh out loud because it is so spot on!” she wrote. “I like to think that I’m on top of things and organized, but the truth is, I also like having my hands in many different things. It is something that I often bring up with my therapist: I feel like I’m okay at doing a lot of different things but not great at doing one thing. It really gets me down if I dwell on that for too long and affects my work effort, my parenting, my relationships. What I’ve learned is to first, give myself grace. I acknowledge that wanting to do a lot of things can be a gift at times and is actually really good when the home life or work life is hectic.My weakness is that I can obsess over tasks and productivity – so I set limits on what needs to be done for the day (short to do lists!) and I make sure that when I’m home, I’m home. No checking work emails, when possible, not working from home after hours, and making sure I am present with family once I’m home from work.”
- Write down your personal quarterly goals. As it is easy for Nines to meld with others, taking on the goals of the company or those around them, it is an important practice to take time to think through your personal goals alongside your company’s goals. At the beginning and end of each quarter, schedule time to assess and see what progress you made. Start noticing what time you spend on accomplishing the goals you make for your own growth. Schedule time for yourself!
- Define your non-negotiables. An unhealthy Nine becomes a non-caring Nine. The world and all its messiness becomes too much so instead of engaging in it, Nines can begin to lose not only a sense of their own worth, but also a sense of the world’s worth. If you define your own values, writing down your non-negotiables, you build yourself a scaffolding to lean up against in the midst of rocky conversations, and it also works as a built in self-assessment tool.
- Celebrate your successes. Nines get uncomfortable with attention and therefore tend to deflect any acknowledgement for their hard work. Consequently, they are the last people to toot their own horns, neglecting even the simplest of gestures to celebrate small milestones. Notice this about yourself and give yourself the kudos your deserve. Mr. Rogers is proud of you, so be proud of yourself.
- Notice your anger. Nines don’t typically get angry, unless super pressed, then their anger can be explosive. Identifying when you are angry, voicing your true feelings of frustration, disappointment, and even despair is the real work of a Nine.
Photographer and business owner (and my husband) David Braud has been on his own Nine journey:
“When things get crazy I tend to do one of two things; reach for a beer or hike through the woods. As a Nine, my tendency to run from pain (emotional) and/or disruption is something I’m learning to be aware of. Staying present in the midst of discomfort is a challenge, but as I make this more of my practice, I’m learning that what I’m usually running from is not as bad as I typically make it out to be. The part of me that is scared or uncomfortable is given some room for expression, and at the same time is comforted and steadied by more secure parts. Letting my parts co-exist in difficult moments and choosing to not catastrophize those moments has helped me to become a healthier Nine.”
Nines, your tendency to settle for a premature peace is keeping you from truly enjoying the fullness of a deeper, more true peace. Instead of escaping the pain of life through conflict avoidance or indulgences in denial, your journey is toward owning your truth: the yucky and the beautiful, the messy and the mystical truth that life is here and it is yours.
Further Developing Your Awareness
Books, Podcasts, & Movies for Nines
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
The Angry Book by Theodore Rubin (On top 10 list of Mr. Roger’s favorite books)
It’s a Wonderful Life (movie starring Jimmy Stewart)
Think You Might Be an Nine?
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@example.com.
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