Enneagram & Team Building: Wing Your Way to Balance

If you think about yourself as a story, where your identity or personality is essentially the story you tell yourself, then ultimately you have control over the narrative, the characters, the plot, and even how the dialogue flows. If you know your enneagram personality type, then think of the wings as a way to make your "character" more authentic and balanced.


As you may know, the Enneagram can be an amazing tool to weave our stories with a sense of awareness and purpose because it helps us make sense of who we are, how we react, and what motivates us. The real upside is that it can lead to better decisions and choices, both at work and in your personal life.


Let's begin by reviewing our core types and their motivations and traits. From there, we will then move into the wings to gain a better understanding of some tendencies to watch, referred to as "wake ups." Have a pen and paper handy so you can do some insight writing as you go through the exercises.


Found Your Type?

  1. What type was revealed to you after you took the Aperture Online Assessment?

  2. Are you confident in your type or do you still feel somewhat uncertain this is your core type or the essence of you are? If you are still uncertain, learning more about the enneagram wings can often help you pinpoint your core type.

What is Your Core Type?



What Motivates and Best Describes Your Personality?


Type 1: Perfectionist/Reformer – Motivated by the need to do the right thing, be accurate, and live life the right way, ones are known as reformers because they are continually trying to improve themselves and the surrounding world.


Traits: wise, discerning, noble, ethical, reliable, idealistic, fair, orderly, self-disciplined, rational, principled, self-controlled, patient, balanced, responsible, conscientious, industrious, improvement-oriented, clear, precise, high standards, accurate, systematic.


Type 2: Giver/Helper – Motivated by the need to be loved and valued, twos express their positive outlook and feelings towards people.


Traits: relationship-oriented, unselfish, altruistic, unconditional love, introspective, intuitive, warm, demonstrative, empathetic, caring, generous, helpful, supportive, optimistic, likable, nurturing, advisors, responsible, feeling, giving, heartfelt, creative, refined.


Type 3: Performer/Achiever – Motivated by the need to be productive and achieve success, threes want to shine.


Traits: optimistic, self-motivated, inspiring role models, competitive, adaptable, ambitious, industrious, fast-paced, goal/success oriented, efficient, confident, competent, caring through actions, output vs people driven.


Type 4: Romantic/Individualist – Motivated by the need to experience their feelings, fours want to be understood and be special.


Traits: inspired, highly creative, able to renew, transform experiences, intuitive, aesthetic, attuned to the off-beat, idealistic, sensitive, empathetic, caring, intense, expressive, passionate, specialness-oriented, authentic, introspective, honest, dedicated.


Type 5: Observer/Investigator – Motivated by the need to know and understand, fives tend to be self-sufficient and investigative in their search for knowledge.


Traits: visionary pioneers, see things in new ways, ahead of times, innovative, perceptive, self-sufficient, undemanding, unobtrusive, caring quietly, knowledgeable, investigative, objective, systematic, analytical, thoughtful, knowledgeable, concise.


Type 6: Skeptic/Loyalist - Motivated by the need for security, sixes can either be outwardly fearful or counterphobic and confront fears directly.


Traits: internally stable, deeply loyal, self-confident, self-reliant, trusting, trustworthy, engaging, responsible, inquisitive, dutiful, caring, collaborative, analytical, persevering, vigilant, challenging, risk averse or overly risk-taking.


Type 7: Epicure/Enthusiast – Motivated by the need to be happy and enjoy life, sevens contribute to the world in small and big ways.


Traits: focused on talents, goals, and interests, adventurous, joyous, grateful, upbeat, optimistic, exuberant, spontaneous, versatile, enthusiastic, pleasure-seeking, caring, synthesizer of ideas, opportunity-oriented, accomplished.


Type 8: Protector/Challenger/Asserter/Boss – Motivated by the need to be self-reliant and strong, eights are extremely independent.


Traits: self-mastering, magnanimous, solid sense of self, dynamic, high stamina, take-charge, protective of others, self-confident, decisive, justice-seeking, direct, strong, declarative, assertive, self-reliant, intense, action-oriented.


Type 9: Mediator/Peacemaker – Motivated by the need to keep peace and to avoid conflict, nines can be very collaborative. Since they often take on qualities of the other eight types, nines have many variations in their personalities from mild to more forceful.


Traits: diplomatic, open-minded, empathic, conflict solvers, peaceful, gentle, receptive, reassuring, adaptable, harmonizer, pleasing, affable, comfortable, steadfast, accepting, humble, easy-going, caring, inclusive, steady, patient, enduring, consistent.


Feeling Out of Balance or Stressed Out?

  1. In thinking about work, where do you feel off balance right now?

  2. What causes you the greatest level of stress at work?

Why Do the Wings Help Create More Balance?

  • In our most integrated states, we incorporate traits from all 9 types, but we tend to lean towards our one type or essence, with a closely aligned wing to navigate life.

  • Your core type and your aligned wing can help you figure out why you do what you do, not just describe you. This gives you more control over decisions and choices as you become more self-aware and observant.

  • Wing awareness also expands your understanding of personality complexities and leads to more empathic awareness, leading you to be less reactive. This all leads to greater sense of balance and lower stress levels.

Common Questions about the Wings?

  • Most enneagram personality experts believe we tend to have one dominant or aligned wing, while others think some people are a balance of both.

  • Wings tend to remain the same, but some experts do believe the wings can change depending on the circumstances or during different periods in our lives.

How to Find Your Wings?

They are the two types on either side of your core type on the diagram. For example, if you are a 4, your wings are 3 and 5.


Identify Your Two Wings:


1 Wings: 2 Helper and 9 Peacemaker

2 Wings: 1 Reformer and 3 Achiever

3 Wings: 2 Helper and 4 Individualist

4 Wings: 3 Achiever and 5 Observer

5 Wings: 4 Individualist and 6 Loyalist

6 Wings: 5 Observer and 7 Enthusiast

7 Wings: 6 Loyalist and 8 Challenger

8 Wings: 7 Enthusiast and 9 Peacemaker

9 Wings: 8 Challenger and 1 Reformer


Insight Writing:


1. What are your two wings from above? _____________________and ________________________


2. Do you lean towards one wing?________________________________________________________


Core Type and Wing Wake Ups


Look at the Light and Dark Sides of Your Core Type and Your Wings


1: Reformer Wake Ups: You want things to be perfect. Can be over detailed, judgmental, critical, rigid, limiting, close-minded, too focused on details and overly perfectionistic. Feel they must fix everything on their own and feel obligated to do so. Watch: Anger in the form of hidden or underlying resentment.


2: Giver Wake Ups: You may tend to ignore your own emotional and physical needs. Can be possessive, prideful, intrusive, dramatic or emotional, unable to say no and establish boundaries, indirect about their own needs, create dependencies, and may end up feeling resentful. Believing they have to overextend and/or accommodate themselves to win people over. Watch: Prideful thinking, believing that you alone know what’s best or that you should be viewed as indispensable.


3: Achiever Wake Ups: You can be preoccupied by a need for approval. Can be overly image-conscious, inattentive to feelings/relationships, impatient, competitive, rushed, self-promoting, and driven. Driving themselves too hard to gain attention or status. Watch self-deceit, believing you are your persona, and the tendency to move toward team-pleasing.


4: Individualist Wake Ups: You can get fixated on a specific emotion. Can be self-absorbed, overly dramatic, melancholic, moody, self-conscious, and dissatisfied. Distorting feelings and ideas through their imaginations, leading to over intensification of feelings. Watch the tendency to look for what is missing, yearning for something else, and feeling envy for what others have.


5: Observer Wake Ups: You may isolate or detach yourself from others. Can be remote, withholding, non-sharing, unassertive, overly frugal with time or resources and too private. Tendency to withdraw into their own private world of concepts and ideas and become preoccupied. Watch the inclination to withdraw or withhold.


6: Loyalist Wake Ups: You may imagine or see problems where they do not even exist. Can be defensive, doubtful, too skeptical, worrying, vigilant, challenging, fearful, cautious about risk-taking, questioning to a point where others feel blamed, and complain to test commitment. Watch fear and the temptation to rely on authority figures and/or outside belief systems for direction and support.


7: Enthusiast Wake Ups: You may start things and not finish them or may get bored quickly. Can be impulsive, avoid painful situations or emotions, be inconsiderate, unfocused, uncommitted, impetuous, display rejection of authority figures, self-serving. Avoid looking for something or someone better all the time. Futuristic versus being in the present. Insisting others meet your demands. Watch your appetite for more, which can lead to dissatisfaction and unnecessary or meaningless distractions.


8: Challenger Wake Ups: You may appear as overly forceful or too intense. Can be domineering, heavy-handed, intimidating, commanding, excessive, demanding, impatient, angry, and impulsive. Tendency to push to get things done or make things happen and not being able to self-limit. Watch the desire for intensity and the temptation to mask your own sense of vulnerability by presenting a hard exterior.


9: Peacemaker Wake Ups: You may avoid issues and become passive-aggressive. Can be conflict-avoidant, resistant, self-forgetting, stubborn, and indecisive. May be unclear or lack intensity when expressing yourself. Tendency to over-accommodate others. Watch checking out or being passive-aggressive, subversive, or unwilling to apply awareness to your own personal development.


Insight Writing:


1. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think about your dominant wing. What one word stands out from the wake-ups relative to your dominant wing? ____________________________________________________________________________________


2. How will you begin leaning into your dominant wing to create more balance?____________________________________________________________________________________


3. How will your new understanding of wings impact your interactions with co-workers? ____________________________________________________________________________________


4. Think about a relationship you can now approach differently by leaning into your wings?____________________________________________________________________________________


Primary References: Books are available at local bookstores and at Amazon.com

The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson.

The Essential Enneagram by Daniels M.D. and Virginia Price, Ph.D.

The Enneagram Made Easy by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele (test included in book)


Website Resources:

Integrative9.com – Practical applications for work and teams

Transforminc.com – Practical applications for work teams


Online Tests: If you want to take multiple tests, check out these online tests and others: roadtowisdom.com, enneagraminstitute.com/rheti


Free Enneagram Assessment: apertureadvisory.com/shop


Follow-up Ideas:

  • Keep a journal of your enneagram insights.

  • Take time out to breathe and observe before reacting or responding.

  • Contact Aperture for individual advisory sessions or schedule a team workshop.

Aperture Advisory Associates

“Always remember your focus determines your reality.” – George Lucas


Enneagram Services:

· Individual Advisory Sessions - $55.00 per One Hour Session.

· Enneagram Team-Building Workshops - $500 for a Two Hour Workshop.


YouTube Channel: Candace Heidenrich or Aperture Advisory Associates

Enjoy our videos on the Enneagram under our playlist that focuses on the "Enneagram and Team-Building." There are also videos on a separate playlist for "Enrollment & Marketing Tips for Private Schools." Check out our Channel and Subscribe!


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