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  • Writer's pictureRyan Mayfield

How to Energize Your Team Around Your Mission (w/the enneagram)

There is a mission that needs accomplishing. People that need saving. An enemy that needs vanquishing.

One of the most popular movie-series of our day is The Avengers. Though most of the characters have been around for multiple generations, Marvel did something powerful over the past decade by intricately and carefully weaving their stories together in a way never before seen. Through many different stories, a grander story was told of a mission bigger than anything that any individual hero had ever accomplished on their own.

Your team is full of heroes. For most of their existence, they have been on missions separate from each other. And while Iron Man and Captain America were certainly box office hits on their own, they paled in comparison to the culminating works of the assembled Avengers.

Your team has a grand story to tell- a mission to accomplish which is bigger than anything that any of them have accomplished on their own.

Through the lens of the enneagram, we can see how each person (hero) has a distinct set of superpowers that allow them to play a unique and critical role on your team. So when we think about the Mission that your team is on, we can begin to see how each Hero might contribute in profound ways using their specific gifts and wirings.

Grab a copy of your team/organization's mission statement. You may have it memorized, but write it down anyway. What would it look like if your team was intimately engaged with your mission statement on a regular basis? How would it affect your team's performance if each person was empowered to use their greatest strengths in service to the mission? How would it impact your results? Your bottom line? Your customers?

While there are many ways for each enneagram type to participate in your team's mission, here is one way that each can contribute for maximum overall impact:

Ones: Bumpers

Ones are the guardians of systems, institutional integrity, and process. But one of the most underutilized strengths of a One in terms of contributing to the overall mission of a team is the ability to keep the team's efforts "in bounds." It is like kids' bowling where they use the "bumpers" to keep the bowling balls from going in the gutter. Ones know what the boundaries (legal, ethical, professional, cultural, etc) are and will start sounding the alarm when those boundaries are crossed. Many leaders will get frustrated with Ones because it seems like Ones are always spoiling the fun. However, a productive One on a team can really keep the team's efforts in check. And while it may seem like they aren't fun all the time, not listening to them can cause lots of pain and frustration in the future.

Twos: People-Focus

Twos are the champions of collaboration and support. In some ways, they are like the glue that holds a team together. A Two's great strength as part of a team working towards a mission is to help the team stay focused on meeting real needs and not just doing things because it seems like they should. Often when working towards a mission, it can be easy to lose sight of the people the mission serves, which will result in a cold, lifeless pursuit of a task, rather than an energetic and compelling mission for the good of real people. When a Two tries to refocus a team on their "why," it will serve the team well to listen and adjust.

Threes: Action Steps

There is no number better at setting goals and objectives than Threes. While others dream, Threes do! Once a mission is in place and a team has been assembled, the Three's chance to really shine is by taking the mission and turning it into small, bite-sized action steps. Allow the Threes on your team to set the to-do list (with oversight, of course) for maximum efficiency and productivity.

Fours: Reality Check

Fours are the dreamers and creative problem solvers on your team. They are the type who see the difference between what is and what should be. When Fours are on a team working towards a mission, they will often be discontent with the team's efforts, especially when what they are actually doing doesn't line up with what they say they are doing. Often though, they don't speak up in a productive way because they are used to teams ignoring or ostracizing them. Instead, give them a seat at the table and regularly ask them to share where they see misalignment between the team's efforts and the stated mission. They won't always be accurate because they may not have all the information, but listening to them and adjusting when they call out something that is true will keep your team honest about the mission.

Fives: Distillation

In working towards a team mission, the Fives on your team have a great responsibility: distillation. Not everyone can comb through the information, data, and research as they can. Often they try to present their research to the team, but the team doesn't receive it well because it is too much to take in. Instead, Fives should carry the burden of not only doing the research but also distilling the information down into helpful bits and pieces that the rest of the team can act on. Learn this and your team will be ready for anything.

Sixes: Strategic Review

While many Sixes may feel at home with tasks like Risk Assessment or Safety Protocols, one of the best ways of using a Six to contribute to a team's mission is through the process of Strategic Review. This means that once a mission is in place and a strategy with action steps has been mapped out, the Six gets a chance to look at the whole process and answer the question, "What threats are we missing?" This question will almost always lead to new information that the rest of the team hasn't considered. In response, plans can be adjusted and/or backup plans can be created so that when a threat arises, the team is now prepared for it.

Sevens: Storytelling

Sevens may be the most compelling members of a team on a mission, or at least they should be. To Sevens, life is a great adventure and they are itching to bring others along for the ride. On a team, Sevens should use their influence, both inside and outside of the team, to tell a compelling story and help others find their place in it. Sevens can remind the team why they are there and why their mission is exciting and worth doing! A team like this gives their best effort and has a great impact.

Eights: Execution

While the team dreams and plans and schemes and studies, Eights are chomping at the bit to actually do something! They are like racehorses waiting for the starting gate to open. You can use this energy and drive to create a lot of momentum for your team. Give the eights a lot of tasks, especially at the beginning of a project and let them know that part of their job is to create a buzz and momentum for the team to draw on. Give them the most challenging tasks as well, as they will charge ahead, giving others the confidence to follow.

Nines: Resource Management

If your team was made up of all Threes, Sevens, and Eights, you would move fast and accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. However, you would also leave a lot of people behind, burnt out and overworked. This is where Nines shine. One of the great strengths of a Nine working with a team on a mission is their ability to manage resources from a more objective viewpoint. They are much like a great chess player, overlooking the board and making strategic moves based on their unique vantage point. Team leaders should make it a point to have regular conversations with Nines, asking them to weigh in on how things are going and if any resources should be reallocated based on what they have been seeing. This will keep the team steadily moving in the right direction and avoiding a lopsided effort that will quickly cause issues.

Mission-Oriented Teamwork

The Avengers always win by working together to defeat their enemy and accomplish their mission. Your team might be full of incredibly talented individuals, but together you can be a part of a much more grand mission. If you want your team to understand, know, live out, and really embody the mission of your organization, your job as the leader should be to help them figure out how to use their unique skills and personality so that they can best contribute to the mission's success.


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