Decision Making and the Enneagram

Decision making is one of the most important tasks that employees and leaders of all levels do on a daily basis. This becomes particularly challenging when the information you have available is incomplete or contradictory and when the time is short and the impact of the decision is high.

This topic area includes: This section first provides you with a model or framework for making optimal decisions that integrates the wisdom of the Head, Heart, and Gut and places this in the center of organizational factors such as the organizational culture, the authority structure within the organization, and the specific context of the decision. Then, using the three Centers of Intelligence (Head, Heart, and Body), you will see the most productive uses of each Center when making decisions. Finally, you will see how the Enneagram illuminates the most common misuse of each Center for individuals whose Enneagram style is formed in that Center of Intelligence.

Decision-Making Model

make optimal decisions

Being able to make wise decisions quickly and to do so in the context of the organization's culture is a crucial skill. The seven Competency Components of Make Optimal Decisions show you how to develop even more refined skills when you make decisions.

Seven Components of Optimal Decision Making
  1. Using Your Head to Make Rational Decisions
  2. Using Your Heart by Listening to Yourself and Others
  3. Using Your Gut by Trusting Your Instincts
  4. Making Wise Decisions by Integrating Your Head, Heart, and Gut
  5. Understanding the Organizational Culture
  6. Honoring the Organization's Decision-Making Authority Structure
  7. Factoring in the Context of the Decision
> back to top

Productive Uses of Each Center of Intelligence

When we use our three Centers of Intelligence in productive ways and then listen to and integrate the wisdom that comes from each of them, we optimize our decision making at work and in our personal lives. Each Center of Intelligence has three primary purposes, and these are described below:

      Objective analysis
      Understanding data without bias

      Astute insight
      Understanding the meaning and implications of data

      Productive planning
      Structuring sets of activities effectively


      Identifying with and understanding another person's feelings

      Authentic relating
      Relating without pretense

      Heartfelt kindness toward another person


      Taking effective action
      Taking well-chosen and timely action

      Being firm and resolute

      Having a clear and trustworthy instinctive response
> back to top

Misuses of Centers for Each Enneagram Style

Although we all can misuse each Center of Intelligence, each Enneagram style tends to misuse each Center in highly predictable ways. The following information describes how individuals of each Enneagram style specifically misuse the Center of Intelligence from which the style arises.

Head Center Styles

Style Ideal Use of
Head Center
Common Misuse
of the Head Center
Development Activity
Objective analysis Overanalysis
The exhaustive collection and examination of data
Remember that logical analysis is not necessarily objective; logic can have its own bias, depending on the logic used, and this dramatically affects your decision making.
Astute insight Projection
The attribution of one's own motives and behavior to other people without recognition of doing so
Learn to differentiate your projections from objective insights by honestly examining your own feelings and motivations. This will help you clarify your intentions and allow you to make better decisions.
Productive Planning Overplanning
Excessively planning and overscheduling
Make a decision and a plan, then stick to both; focus your mind.

Heart Center Styles

Style Ideal Use of
Heart Center
Common Misuse
of the Heart Center
Development Activity
Empathy Emotional manipulation
Consciously or unconsciously trying to orchestrate the behavior of others through the calculated use of emotions
Examine your motivation for needing to know exactly what others are thinking and feeling when making decisions.
Authentic Relating Playing roles
Relating to others through an image or role rather than one's true self
Share your real feelings (including your anxieties) related to the decisions you must make; this will help dismantle the overly confident image you have created that creates a barrier between you and others.
Compassion Oversensitivity
Being excessively emotional and overidentifying with feelings
Remember that too much emotionality does not help either you or others when making decisions.

Body Center Styles

Style Ideal Use of
Body Center
Common Misuse
of the Body Center
Development Activity
Taking effective action Excessive action
Taking too much strong, immediate, direct action
Don't rush into decisions, and don't make overly complex decisions when simple solutions work just as well.
Steadfastness Passivity
Being inert, non-reactive, and accommodating
Without being stubborn, hold firm on decisions you truly believe are best, even in the face of opposition and conflict.
Gut-knowing Reactivity
Reacting too strongly or quickly, verbally and emotionally, without sufficient deliberation
Learn to honor your deeper gut reactions by asking yourself what it is that you know very deeply to be true; be extremely watchful when you react too quickly.

> back to top