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It can come as quite a shock to discover that everyone doesn’t experience the world the same way you do.  They don’t necessarily perceive it the same way, nor are they driven by the same desires and needs, nor do they evaluate their experience the same way you do.

Basic temperament is inherent at birth. We can see it in newborn infants – some are placid and sleep easily, others are alert, others agitated easily. What you experience as you grow up shapes your personality and goals, but your temperament remains an unconscious lens through which you filter your experiences.

I love watching the light bulb go on when leaders get how fundamentally different temperaments are … and more importantly, that teams really need these differences in order to perform at a high level.

Capitalizing on differences is essential to success in business.

When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary. ~William Wrigley, Jr.

One of the most powerful ways for people to learn to work together in teams is though helping them understand and value differences. It’s also important for those seeking to increase their emotional and social intelligence, whether in a leadership role or as an independent contributor.

There are several models that illustrate differences, each looking at underlying type from a slightly different perspective, but each providing a solid basis for understanding human behavior. For each of these models some useful ways of identifying and understanding differences have been developed. Three of my favorites are:

  • William Schutz’s Theory of Interpersonal Relations: FIRO – 3 Dimensions
  • Carl Jung’s Psychological Types: Myers & Briggs – 16 Types and Keirsey – 4 Temperaments
  • George Gurdjieff’s personality system: Enneagram – 9 Types

In teambuilding, I usually use Keirsey’s 4 Temperaments or Schutz’s FIRO because they are simple to explain and quickly understood. They get the point across quickly that there really are fundamental differences in perceptions, that none is best, and that we need each other. If there is more time, I use the 16 Types through the MBTI or PersonalityType.

At a personal level, I prefer the Enneagram because of its richness and because it describes a path for growth. But it can take a long time to fully understand what this complex model has to offer. And I respect it too much to over-simplify it. So, while I have used it for my own personal work and understanding, I have not used it in coaching or training.

However, after reading InsideOut Enneagram by Wendy Appel I was delighted to find a book on the Enneagram I would recommend to leaders.

Appel lays out the fundamentals of the Enneagram without over-simplifying it. Well-researched and well-grounded in the theory, her book is easy to understand and use. As a bonus, it is beautifully written and inspiring.

InsideOut Enneagram gives a clear description of each of the 9 Types and provides practical advice on how to get unstuck and further your development. The messages are clearly illustrated through numerous examples, as well as by an interesting case study woven throughout the book.

Appel covers a lot of territory in her book. She provides the tools, a roadmap and a glimpse of the destination. It is a reference book, a workbook and a journal, laced with questions for your own self-reflection.

InsideOut Enneagram is a guide book for a worthwhile journey that will make you a better leader in all aspects of your life.

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