Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Influential Caregiver

Question: What descriptions and self-descriptions will you hear that suggest someone might be an Enneagram Style Two?
"I think it's important to live out my values, to always focus on what we need to be doing to serve the mentally ill," said Emily Dracker, a leader in community mental health services. Emily sought a business coach because of her wish to better influence her peers in the mental health system. "They used to see me as a troublemaker," she said. "Now that I'm running this agency, they see me as a real threat because I'm always asking, 'Why are we continuing to do this?'"

Her peers concurred that Emily ruffled feathers, but they also saw the benefit of her challenging the system. "I think she would manipulate the establishment to reach her goals," said one colleague, "but she's honest and argues from her beliefs: she has such a high value for clients' needs."

"She's very interpersonally oriented," said another, "and very genuine with her feelings; but it's sometimes difficult to know where she's coming from because she can react emotionally." 

My work with Emily centered initially on clarifying her boundaries. This was important because she found herself overly focused on satisfying others' needs. At times she even portrayed a kind of martyrdom with her own staff. "Emily is so caring," one of them commented. "She has a natural talent for feedback." 

"You could idolize her," said another. "She's more of a friend than a boss, and she's done so much for me." 

But when her team members would try to treat her as an equal, giving her feedback about how her own behavior could be at cross-purposes with teamwork, she would be more boss than friend. This murkiness about her role showed up in two ways: (1) seeing them as being the whole problem, and (2) responding to their feedback with tears. "I've worked so hard to support them in spite of their failings. Maybe I've just put too much faith in them," she said. "I think they see me as 'Mom' and want to take out all their anxieties on me. Sometimes they seem so childish!"

Emily's complete story in Out of the Box Coaching with the Enneagram

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