Look Past Behavior to Motivation

iStock_000013925190XSmallI don’t know if Inc. columnist Jeff Haden is familiar with the Enneagram or not, but many of his columns sure read like he is.  In his recent column 9 Hidden Qualities of Stellar Bosses, Haden writes of stellar bosses:

  • They look past the action to the emotion and motivation….Effective bosses deal with actions. Remarkable bosses search for the underlying issues that, when overcome, lead to much bigger change for the better.

I agree.  The Enneagram personality system teaches us that motivation, not behavior, is key to understanding what makes people tick.  People of different Enneagram types can and do behave in similar ways, but what motivates that behavior can be quite different.

For example, let’s say we have 9 employees, each a different Enneagram type.  All 9 bring a bag lunch to work.  If we asked them why, their answers might be something like this:

Type 1: motivated to be good, right and perfect- I am trying to save money.  Bringing food from home is the right way to go about it.

Type 2: motivated to be liked and needed – I make lunch for the rest of the family, so I just pack one more.

Type 3: motivated to achieve success – I work through lunch.

Type 4: motivated to find connection, meaning and authenticity – I love to cook.  I bring leftovers to work because I get to relive dinner from the night before.

Type 5: motivated to be competent and knowledgeable – I bring lunch because I like to eat alone in my office while I read a book or surf the net.

Type 6: motivated to be secure – I like to know exactly where my food comes from.  If I bring lunch, I don’t have to worry.

Type 7: motivated to be satisfied and content – I bring lunch because it causes the least inconvenience.

Type 8: motivated to be strong and in control – I like to have food at the office so I can eat when I want.

Type 9: motivated to have peace of mind and harmony – I bring lunch because everyone else at work does.

Thanks to the Enneagram we can quickly see one-size-does-not-fit-all when it comes to motivation, and therefore behavior.  So, if you are a boss – or an employee – and you want to look past action, be stellar and use the Enneagram to help raise your awareness and understanding.