Aug 132013

Before You Act, Do You Focus On What Can Go Wrong?

This is the sixth in a series of articles based on the nine personalities of the Enneagram. We use the Enneagram Personality Assessment in our Coaching and Ascending Leader’s Program™ to gain self-knowledge and self-awareness. It acts as a mirror to reveal aspects of our personality that are not normally visible to us.

Like Everyone Else, Like No One Else, Like Someone Else.

Personality theorists make two kinds of statements. One describes the things we all have in common, traits that are inherent in all human beings.

The other states that the differences among people are generally learned, rather than generic. In essence, there is only one of each of us.

Somewhere in between what we have in common with everyone else and what we share with no one else are characteristics that overlap with some people but not with others.

This issue focuses on personality Type 6, The Loyalist. Loyalists are motivated by their desire to alleviate risk. They are also tenacious in their loyalty, defenders of their faith, and protectors of their traditions. Sixes are the most loyal to their friends and to their beliefs, as well as to ideas and systems.

Loyalists have insightful minds and are prone to worry, often creating worst-case scenarios. This helps them feel prepared in case something goes wrong. Some Loyalists are overly fearful, while others move toward fear as a way of proving they have no fear.

Sixes are in the Head Triad; they are called the doubting mind. When considering what to do, how to solve a problem, and what decisions to make, they immediately conjecture “What if this happened,” “What if that doesn’t work,” and more. They need to consider what can go wrong before they commit to a course of action.

Famous Loyalists include Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Howard Cossell, Steve Martin, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tom Hanks, Malcolm X, and Ted Turner. When Sixes give their word about something, they keep it.

How do we identify a Type 6? They appear worried, suspicious, aggressively self-protective, warm and likeable, strong and fearless. They have searching eyes, are sharply attentive and skeptical. They can make you feel distrusted, cross-examined, awkward, trusted, warm, part of the team, misled, and uncertain.

Some proverbs that identify a Type Six include: United we stand, divided we fall. Readiness is all. Two heads are better than one. Better safe than sorry.

The average Loyalist is obedient, a traditionalist, dependent, hesitant, defensive, and rebellious. They begin to fear they will lose their independence but also believe they need more support. They worry they cannot meet the demands placed on them so they try to resist having more pressure put upon them.

Unhealthy Loyalists are insecure, clingingly dependent, overreacting, and can be hysterical and irrational, feeling their actions may have harmed their own security.

Healthy Loyalists are self-affirming, courageous, emotionally engaged, and loyal. They let go of the belief that they must rely on someone or something outside themselves for support. They reinforce their self-image by working to create and sustain mutually beneficial systems.

The Loyalist’s communication style is questioning, cautioning, doubting, and challenging.

When coaching a Loyalist it’s important to remember that they become especially anxious when they are about to receive feedback. They like to discuss their coaching goals, recognizing that doing so provides them and their coach with a common direction. Because they are prone to self-doubt and second-guessing themselves, they may revise and revisit their coaching goals multiple times during the first few coaching sessions.

If you know a Type 6, be direct, clear, and listen to them carefully. Work things through with them, and reassure them that everything is OK. Push them gently toward new experiences and try not to overreact to their overreacting.

Suggestions and exercises for Loyalists are about self-confidence.

  • Try to be around people who are accepting, trustworthy, and encouraging.
  • Notice and accept the positive things people say about you.
  • Remember that there is no one “right” way to live, as long as you are satisfied with what you are doing.
  • Remember it is OK to make mistakes.

Remember, none of the personality types is better or worse than any other. All types have unique assets and liabilities, strengths and weaknesses. While it is common to find a little of ourselves in each of the nine types, one of them typically stands out as being closest to ourselves. This is our basic personality type.

The Enneagram is a valuable tool coaches can use as a catalyst for change. In an organization or business, this can help in employee development, hiring decisions, or forming highly functional teams.

To identify your dominant personality type, visit and take the free assessment or the ten dollar enhanced assessment. Then contact me so we can discover how you can enhance your effectiveness. Coaching can be a valuable resource for developing yourself, your business, and your employees.

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