Enneagram has earned buzzword status in every corner of the internet, including our very own IDCO team chat, where we found ourselves discussing how our work is affected by the traits that our “types” possess. It’s truly fascinating to delve into the reasons and rhythms behind the decisions and habits of your teammates—not to mention your own subconscious ones! Seemingly like the rest of the world, we were captivated by the idea that we could improve our relationships, both personal and professional, armed with the information from a simple personality test.
If you aren’t familiar with the Enneagram, you can read more about it here. The gist of it is that, by answering a few personal questions with as much honesty as possible (or by researching each classification thoroughly), you can be placed into one of nine personality categories. The results do allow for some flexibility, with some testers having “wings” or strong traits belonging to other types. When the conversation first started, many of us were already well-versed in the scale and our own types and subtypes. Others took the test and hurried back to Slack with their results. For some, their “type” seemed obvious once revealed, while we found ourselves surprised and enlightened by the inner workings of some of our teammates’ minds. In any event, we came away with a better understanding of how we fit as a team—balancing one another’s strengths and weaknesses with our own.
As a Type 7 (with an 8 wing), my personality—on a basic level—is supposedly comparable to that of famous figures like Amelia Earhart, Elton John, and Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m referred to as “The Enthusiast,” or with my added 8 wing, “The Realist.” From the research I’ve done, type 7 encompasses a wide variety of temperaments, depending on where they stand in terms of emotional health and personal growth. Sevens are known for being adventurous, curious, and busy. On the other side of that, they can have a tendency to spread themselves too thin. As for my secondary category, Type 8s are “Challengers” and notorious for being confident, direct, and self-reliant.
I asked our resident enneagram enthusiast, Carmen, to pose some questions to the group about how their types’ traits come out in their work, how we channel our strengths + the processes we put in place to overcome our blindspots.
Design and Styling: The Identité Collective | Photography: Madeline Harper
From The Enneagram Institute: “Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied.”
Sevens are notorious for always thinking about the next thing. How do you make intentional + sustainable plans for your business while embracing new challenges and ideas? The so-called short-sightedness of being a 7 is definitely what has allowed IDCO to grow to what is is in just 3 years. By breaking down every goal into small, short-sighted steps, I can achieve them much more quickly. I think people put too much emphasis on the long term goal they get scared to take the first step. So many things change in our industry (technology, design trends, etc) that being adaptable is the key to diversifying revenue and staying relevant. Because I do have so much 8 in me, there is always a big picture plan, just a lot of moving parts to get there.
Eights are known for their honesty. How do you navigate a tendency to be blunt as the person in charge? Definitely guilty of this. When managing a team of people literally around the world (developers in Ireland, designers in Croatia and others all over the country), I try to be as direct as possible. We do all our communication on Slack, so words can be read in varying tones. I find being blunt and direct saves a lot of rounds of revisions. I fight hard to proactively put a lot of positivity around the team, though, too. Little things like sharing everyone’s Friday wins on the group channel help combat those blunt moments I’m prone to. What might not be clear to the team (and it comes from the miscommunication of working online vs. in-person) is that it is NEVER personal. I never ever feel negative feelings if giving blunt feedback, asking for revisions, or “managing”. I’m sure it may feel personal or harsh on the receiving end sometimes but I try to prioritize always thanking each member of the team personally and privately for their latest contributions.
Do you think being a 7 helps you relate to your creative clients more? (Lots of creative types are 7s!) I think when dealing with clients, I definitely lean to my 8 side more and I think that’s what our clients look to me for. They are creatives running their business and they trust IDCO to handle the details so they can focus on serving their client. However, the 7 in me is what fuels the creative blog, is always switching things up and is what I think, subconsciously, attracts clients to IDCO.
Eddie has become such an important part of the IDCO team with his web skills, weekly Friday gif, and his willingness to help however he can. In true Type Eight fashion, he is honest and direct but is always thinking of others. I have found that working from home as part of a team is ideal for eights (which several of us are) as it gives us the opportunity to balance our independence with our need for connection and collaboration. Eddie is a perfect example of that, and while he works wonderfully on his own, he always checks in with the team whether to lend a hand or just make us laugh!
Type 8s are born leaders. Do you find that translates well into your role? Well yes, I always have been a leader, but that doesn’t mean I like to boss people around. I think it has more to do with the fact that I am not afraid to fail at something. For me, not trying is a far bigger crime.
Does it make working from home easier, or do you find you thrive when the team is all working together? I like being on my own, working in solitude, but it also gets a bit lonely sometimes and if you don’t have input from others you don’t grow. Working together on a design is difficult maybe, but when the balance is there, the end product is better.
Anastasia also scores highly as an 8. Do you find that helps you two collaborate? Eights can also have a hard time accepting the leadership of others, but with Stass it works well. I often don’t trust people. It takes time for me to do that. With IDCO, I don’t have that issue.
I don’t think it has to do with being an 8, but from my point is that I have seen her design work, and I respect that she is bloody good at her work. That’s always step one. Over the year we have worked together, I have trusted her and she trusts me.
Lexi and Carmen work very closely, so I asked Lexi how she sees Carmen’s 8 traits presented in her work. She said that “supporting, empowering, and protecting” describes her exactly at work and outside. Carmen is also really confident in her work and the sufficiency of her skill. She takes on new tasks without thinking twice and is always receptive to feedback.
Type 8s are born leaders. Do you find that translates well into your role? Does it make working from home easier, or do you find you thrive when the team is all working together? In ways, I think it does! I don’t manage or lead anyone really, but I find that working from home and largely on your own takes a certain amount of discipline. Most of the eights I know are motivated and self-reliant. I think that really helps when you’re setting your own schedule and setting up your own work days. That said, I really enjoy chatting with everyone in Slack and staying up to date on what projects the team is working on.
Anastasia also scores highly as an 8. Do you find that helps you two collaborate?
I do. We are both really direct and give very honest feedback. In the past, I have found that can be difficult when you’re working with someone who might be more sensitive to constructive criticism. Stass knows that she can come to me with revisions and changes and I don’t take it personally. I just want the product to be its best.
What is it like working for two Type Sevens? It’s definitely not all work and no play! Anastasia and Lexi really keep things fun, while never neglecting what’s important. I also really appreciate their willingness to take risks and try new things. Their leadership style is perfect for a type 8—they always lead by example!
No one was surprised to hear that Lexi is indeed a type 7. You will not find someone more fun-loving, optimistic, and adventurous. From a work perspective, Lexi is such a level-headed sounding board. When things go awry, her optimism always wins out. She is a problem solver and brings so much energy and positivity to the team.
Which of your 7 traits do you find to be most prevalent in your working relationships? I find that I love variety and having a number of new and exciting things in the works that I can put my energy towards. Taking risks doesn’t bother me, and I really just enjoy the process. On the opposite side of that, I can find myself distracted or spreading myself too thin. I also don’t particularly enjoy managing others.
How do you overcome any potential hang-ups associated with your type? It sounds simple, but keeping a running and often-updated list of to-dos really keeps me on task and prevents me from jumping ahead. Since management isn’t my strong point, I have circumvented that by having an incredible leader as a partner and surrounding myself with a team that works so well together and as individuals that no one has to be micromanaged.
Speaking of Anastasia, what’s it like running a business with someone of the same “type”? Well, we already knew our personalities were compatible because we were friends beforehand, but I actually think it’s our differences that make our partnership work rather than what we have in common. We are alike in so many ways, but I definitely see Stass’s 8 wing shine through in the way she does business. I find that a lot of our strengths compensate for the other’s weakness and vice versa. Just as an example, I am a details person. I like the minutia and the sense of accomplishment of checking something –no matter how big or small—off the list. I find that Stass is definitely more of a “big picture” person and really keeps me moving towards our long-term goals.
From The Enneagram Institute: “Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually creative, optimistic, and supportive, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts.”
Erin was one of our team members who had not taken the test prior to this conversation, but I feel like any of us could have typed her easily! 9s are known as the cozy type, always creating peaceful environments and making others feel comfortable. Erin is selfless and unfailingly reliable.
Do you find that your type 1 qualities are a major help in your role as editorial director or do you struggle more with things like delegation because of those traits? My perfectionist streak is both a blessing and a curse. That high-level attention to detail is definitely a strength in my role but on that same note, it can make it hard to delegate tasks without wanting to micro-manage or edit work. I’m an editor through and through.
I know that 9s do not like conflict. Does that make professional relationships difficult in terms of accepting feedback or do you find that your “peacemaking” side is more adaptive and open to others’ opinions? My peacemaking side wins out when it comes to accepting feedback. I am all about constructive criticism but definitely overthink mistakes TO A FAULT.
Nines are known as the cozy type. What can we find you doing on weeknights and weekends to relax? Give me a good book and a cozy chair and I am a happy camper. I also love yoga, brunch all day every day and movie nights in or a good binge-watching session.
What is it like working with two 7s (Anastasia + Lexi)? Sevens are typically fun-loving, adventurous, and optimistic. Do you see a lot of their “seven” traits in their leadership style? Definitely! That optimism and sense of adventure translates into leaders that are immensely supportive and collaborative. Plus, they always have something exciting and inspiring in the works. There is never a dull moment at IDCO and I love every second of it.
Kath is relatively new to the IDCO team, but her nine-ness has become apparent already. Nines are known for their listening skills, and Kath is no exception. She is so talented at listening to your ideas, really absorbing them, and turning them into more than you expected. Her creativity and design skills are such an asset to our team and we are so lucky to have her.
Type 9s are known for being great employees as they are great compromisers, listeners, and peace makers. Do you find that to be true in your professional life? I absolutely find it true being a listener and a peace maker in both personal and professional life. Regarding compromising, it can be true sometimes, for example, in some sort of conversation or similar but not in the work I do, design. There I’m always very focused and very serious and without any compromise.
What do you enjoy most about the creative process? What I enjoy the most about the creative process is the very first part – sketching, brainstorming and gathering ideas. Second best is when I see al of it live.
From The Enneagram Institute: “Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others.”
Steph and Jenn are our twos. While Jenn wasn’t very familiar with the enneagram, we can definitely see how she got those results. Jenn’s kindness and giving attitude is perfect for her role as studio director. Her warm spirit is exactly the kind of first interaction we want clients to have with our team.
Steph is an incredible writer and such a generous team player. She’s always available for last-minute edits, late-night brainstorming, or anything else that is needed. She’s the definition of a team player, even being so new to the team. And while her detail-obsessed streak might be a pain to her, it’s nothing but helpful to us as we perfect blogs and client work.
Type Twos love connecting with others. How does that translate to your work with the team? My enneagram type is very much rooted in interpersonal relationships. I love the opportunity to develop a connection with a fellow team member or client, and come alongside as they work towards their business goals.
A lot of twos are in care-taking professions. How were you drawn to writing? I think my “2”-ness ties closely with my love of storytelling—whether it’s website copy, blog content, or marketing materials, I’m always looking for ways to communicate a client’s vision with copy that’s smart, authentic, engaging, and personal.
Even though some of our numbers overlap, I think that our team is really well balanced. I can see the positive characteristics of each team member’s personality type evidenced in the way they interact with the team every day. Even more so, I see the work they put in creating processes and habits + constantly improving themselves and their craft.
I hope you found this exercise as interesting as we did! Getting to know one another on this level is so important to relationship building and long-term success. I’d love to know: what is your Enneagram type?
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