The Enneagram & The Visionary Entrepreneur (CEO)

business strategy Oct 20, 2020

In my last post, I wrote about which Enneagram types would make for a successful COO. Now, let’s explore those Enneagram types on the CEO side and some things to look out for and be aware of with each. Again it’s so important when figuring out this whole CEO and COO relationship that both people complement each other and help fill in the gaps when it comes to strengths, skills, and personality types.

I always encourage online CEO’s to ask for things, such as Enneagram numbers, Myers-Briggs personality types, DISC profiles, or even strengths finder test results because that is going to really help the CEO understand if the COO might be the best fit for their needs. Similarly I think it’s really important that the COO also find out what Enneagram or Myers-Briggs a potential CEO is so that they can be sure it might be a good fit. I have certain Enneagram numbers that I prefer to work with and now after working with many CEO’s with a range of different Enneagram types, I can better tailor how we work together based on their personality and how they approach their business. This knowledge allows us to be more successful together as a team.

First, I want to begin with my disclaimer that there are no right and wrong or bad or good Enneagram numbers. Every number has varying levels of acting positively or negatively depending on varying factors. It’s a scale. For example, it’s not like 9’s are lazy or bad, it’s more that at their best, 9’s are peacemakers and seek to bring people together for common goals and achievements, but that their worst 9’s can be apathetic and lack discipline and motivation. I’m not ragging on any particular Enneagrams, but just discussing the Enneagram numbers you see most in online CEO’s or visionary types. Let’s get into it, starting with the Enneagram 7. 

Enneagram 7

As mentioned in my previous post, Enneagram 7s are typically not COOs, but yet they are a very common number amongst CEO types because they are the dreamers. They are quite literally the visionaries, so they have big ideas and want to go on adventures and change the world.  

However, the one downfall to this is that 7’s tend to fall prey to shiny object syndrome and want to change directions all the time. These distractions and changes can really mess with the company culture and direction of the team. Often times, 7’s like to start a million projects, but finish none.  

So a great COO can help the 7 actually accomplish their goals and get projects across the finish line. However it’s really important that the 7 learns to trust their COO and adhere to the boundaries and structure that a COO is going to bring to their business. I know that’s not fun for the 7’s, since they want to go on a few adventure when they feel like it and work on their timeline. But those tendencies are not going to fly if you have a team that is all trying to accomplish something together. You can’t change directions all the time or keep stopping projects to start new and different ones. This is why it’s important for a 7 CEO to hire a COO with a backbone who isn’t going to let them get off course.  

Enneagram 3

The next Enneagram number I see often in the CEO role is the 3 because they are super high achievers and they want to accomplish more and more and more. They want to climb the ladder of success, but not always for the right reasons, yet they take immense pride in making big goals happen. So an Enneagram 3 would make a great CEO however the one caveat with 3’s is that they are non-stop and relentless.

Fun fact, I took immense pleasure in analyzing the Enneagram types of the main characters of Hamilton the musical and Alexander himself is most definitely a 3. There is even a song that closes out Act one called ‘Non-Stop’ and it’s all about how he had an incredible amount of drive. But his drive also made life hard for everyone around him who just wanted him to be happy with what he had right in front of him. That can be something you notice with a 3 CEO; they might hit that big launch goal and go “ok but what’s next”, “we need to go bigger”. They don’t ever seem to be satisfied with any level of success (and ‘Satisfied’ is another song and theme of Hamilton.)

Tips for a COO working with a Type 3 CEO - they need to balance them. They can do this by celebrate their wins, and helping them to slow down and appreciate the journey - get the 3s to be more methodical rather than relentless.  

Enneagram 8

The next CEO type I see, but not as often as 7’s or 3’s is the Enneagram 8. Those 8’s love to take charge, grab the bull by the horns, and make stuff happen therefore they can make great leaders and visionaries.

They are really good at being the boss, however they can also be a bit of a bully because they are very “my way or the highway” type of people. So they can get impatient if things aren’t happening fast enough or the aren’t reaching their goals soon enough. They can also be very intense and I’ve seen 8’s that, unlike the 7’s who are chasing multiple shiny objects, get super hyper focused one one thing and chase it almost to a detriment. So a COO can come in and help them flesh out their vision and ideas and help make multiple projects happen and also help be that buffer with the team so that the intensity of the 8 doesn’t overwhelm everyone.

To hear about the final type that makes a great visionary but a questionable CEO, tune into this episode.


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