The Enneagram in Government

Government is a complex matrix that involves a number of different arenas. The most visible is occupied by the politicians; they in turn are surrounded by key people who advise and support. Permanent government staff ensures the system keeps working, so motivating key people is crucial. It is also necessary for department heads and others who work closely with public figures to know how best to communciate with politicians as they can face incredible pressures.

Throughout history, the greatest politicians have been the most successful communicators. Knowing how distortions occur when communicating enables politicians to increase their effectiveness as they frequently have to respond immediately to issues, often with very little time for research or consultation.

Politicians must show qualities of leadership. The Enneagram leadership paradigms provide a very accurate description of different leadership styles that help identify difficulties and encourage flexibility and the capacity to adapt to change. To succeed, continual self-mastery is essential and having an insight into their leadership style can move them forward, giving them a huge advantage when negotiating with colleagues.

Policies often need to be implemented quickly and effectively. The Enneagram model works extremely well in predicting how teams can get stuck and providing ways to resolve the issues and create a healthy feedback system to deal with conflict. Good teamwork is vital and it is the leader's job to know the staff's communication styles and how to work with them under pressure without alienating them, as the best results are achieved when the representative works with an inner circle.

Carrying the wisdom of the ages, the Enneagram can provide solutions in the modern era that can take us into the future by providing the understanding that everyone has a contribution to make and that true greatness comes from having the honestly and courage to lead.



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Barry Ahern, an associate of the Irish Management Institute and a founding member of Enneagram Ireland, works as an Enneagram specialist with individuals and groups that include clients in sectors such as finance, media, government, healthcare, nonprofits, and in second and third level education. His work includes coaching, communication, leadership development, decision making, and team development.

Using the Enneagram as a model, Barry provides a range of applications that provide continual learning opportunities for individuals and teams to develop in diverse and unique ways. He has a particular interest in developing effective communications strategies that take into account the intelligence of the mind, body and heart, through the provision of practical and experiential learning that can be both fun and challenging.

As well as the Enneagram being a transparent model that clearly illustrates the important role each individual plays in an organisation, Barry sees the Enneagram as an approach that enables us to think and act outside the box, whether this is in the area of leadership, decision making, or adapting to change. He aims to reduce narrowness of focus and cultivate a more inclusive response, one that allows us to respond appropriately and effectively to the major challenges we face in our organisations and elsewhere in our lives.