My daughters are endlessly fascinated by any test that reveals clues about who they are?what color, animal, or personality type they most resemble. And I must admit, they learned about these tests from me. Since my early 20?s as a leader, I have used all kinds of tools to better understand who I am. These have included the Myers Briggs, Strength Finders, DISC, a MAP, and the Enneagram. I also invested in a two-day intensive Life Plan experience out in Colorado. Some people call this narcissism. Okay, maybe there?s a little of that. Others take these tests like a kind of game, and then inflict the same tests on their friends and family to find out ?what everyone else is.? (I may be a little guilty there too). But in spite of the potential for misusing information, I contend that knowing your personality type is vitally important for any leader. And here?s why:
Every Leader Has Blind Spots
In my twenty-five years of leading in the local church, followed by several years now as a leadership coach, I have not found a single leader who does not have at least one or two blind spots. We simply do not see ourselves accurately. Some of us are more controlling than we know. Some of us lust for attention and approval. Some of us are driven by fear and anxiety. Some of us seek to escape or numb out. Some of us need to be needed too much. There are a myriad of ways in which we do not look underneath to uncover our shadows and false self. The problem is that those we lead are affected by what we do not see. And our families and closest friends are also impacted. We cannot change if we are not awake and aware.[quote]I have not found a single leader who does not have at least one or two blind spots.[/quote]
Self Awareness is the Pathway to Confession and Growth
The tool in recent years that I have found to be most transformative is called The Enneagram. This tool describes nine different personality types, and each one is given a number. All of the types?in their healthiest most resourceful place?display tremendous gifts and contribution to the world. Each of the types reflect one dimension of our Heavenly Father. So that is great and good. But each type also has a shadow side, an expression that is toxic and unhealthy. This is the part that we can either ignore or choose to look at, admit, confess, and seek to transform over time with the power of the Holy Spirit.
I am a ?3? on the Enneagram, which means that I am an achiever, a person who can be highly effective and can lead others well. But my shadow side is not so pretty. When I am unhealthy, I seek to manage my image in order to receive applause and approval. I care way too much about what others think of me. I also am far more comfortable with Doing than Being. My besetting sin is Deceit?deceiving myself and others that I am more together in every way than I really am.[quote]Being more aware of who I am in my unhealthy place has served me in a major way.[/quote]
So why would anyone want to know this horrifying information? Great question! Sometimes I would prefer not to see it. But being more aware of who I am in my unhealthy place has served me in a major way. I bring these moments of sin out into the light. As the Psalmist said,
Search me, God and know my heart; test me and know my?anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and?lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 23,24)
Until my last breath, I will struggle with the same dark side. But the truly fabulous news is that over time, as I seek to cooperate with God?s transforming work in me, I will more and more resemble the healthiest expression of who I was designed to be. My shadows will have less power and cause less damage. So I choose to look and see and know these truths about me in spite of the pain.
Awareness of Types Makes For Healthier Teams
As we learn more about ourselves, it is vital that we also uncover the types of those we love and lead and serve. John Ortberg once said that many of us go through life thinking, ?Why aren?t you normal like me?? Each of us looks at the world through our own lens, and all kinds of trouble is stirred up when we fail to appreciate the wonder and uniqueness of our spouse, our children, our best friends, and our teammates. I have experienced countless ?Aha!? moments when I recognize how another person is magnificently crafted in ways that are usually quite different from me. This knowledge has helped my husband and me build a healthier marriage?one in which we often can laugh at how different we really are.
I truly wish I had the Enneagram tool back when I was in daily church leadership?to better understand my Senior Pastor and those I led on the Worship Arts team. These days I look back and realize why we sometimes had conflicts and rough patches. As a certified trainer on the Enneagram, I have been able to guide staff teams to learn about themselves and one another. It has been a great joy to see light bulbs go on for them, and to help them on a path to far greater effectiveness and health as a team.
I strongly urge all of us to commit to greater self-awareness in 2015. Not so we can dance around on the surface of learning new and fun things about ourselves. But so we can grow and flourish, day by day becoming more like our Savior and leading His Church with far more empathy, wisdom, and joy.