Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Consensus-Builder

Question: What descriptions and self-descriptions will you hear that suggest someone might be an Enneagram style Nine?
I once read an article quoting the Dalai Lama as saying he had work-out equipment in his office, then adding with a laugh, "But I don't like to sweat." This is a perfect metaphor for style Nines and characteristic of Dale Rogers, who said she forced herself to work out to keep her weight under control, but took pride in completing her routine "without breaking into a sweat."

She often went to the company gym at lunch with her colleague, Al, who took equal pride in "sweating like a horse" and jokingly described Dale as "a wimp." More seriously, he continued: "She always seems up to date with what's going on in our company, and could probably sit in the Vice President's chair, but she needs to show more visible leadership. 'Passion' is not a word you'd associate with Dale. She's conservative, doesn't inspire excitement, and sometimes people need to know you can't be pushed around."

Comments from other colleagues: "Dale's much better informed about the new technology than anyone else in headquarters, and she's really good at getting people together for input. She works by consensus, and I've seen her handle some tough personnel situations very well. But I'm not sure she'd be decisive enough in her boss's job." "I often wonder why Dale doesn't take a stronger position. She's a nice person, maybe a little too nice. I've seen her say her piece if she feels strongly, but she needs a better ability to sell herself and to fight for what the department needs."

"She's easy to be around and wears well over time," said Dale's boss, "but she has a kind of 'vanilla' quality."

A laissez-faire manager, Dale had hired people over the years who were competent and worked without much direction. She was kind and considerate, genuinely concerned with the common good. But she'd risen in the organization as it grew in its industry, and was now in a position where more personal decisiveness was required, particularly if she was to be considered as a back-up to the Vice President.

Her vanilla quality was hard for others to articulate. "She's a great manager and competent executive, but -- I don't know how to describe it -- she's not feisty enough."

In her self-assessment Dale described her childhood: "I was praised for being well-behaved, so there was no need for a whole lot of rules. My parents left me pretty much to my own devices. They never came to school events. As a teenager I took up golf so I could play with my father, but he was so engrossed in his own game he never noticed how I was playing." When asked how she felt about that lack of attention as a child, she pondered a moment, then answered, "I just realized that's how things were and figured there was no use getting upset about it."

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