Enneagram Eight At Work

Who is the Enneagram Eight at Work?


The Powerful Person, The Challenger

Eights are excellent at taking charge of their environment. As leaders, they know how to mobilize to get things done; they have a gift for knowing what needs to happen, who is the best person to do it, and will stand up for the positions and people that they care about. 

Enneagram Eights can have a great sense of humor mixed with a lot of gusto and a go-for-it mentality.  Eights bring tremendous drive and work ethic to an organization (similar to the Enneagram 3); don’t be surprised if you have to tell them to go home at the end of the day. 

Enneagram Eights are one of the most misunderstood Enneagram types. They don’t like to be controlled; one of their biggest fears is vulnerability or weakness. People may think that Eights are controlling (and they can be if they are not self-aware or are in an unhealthy place), but what they are trying to do is to take control so as to avoid being controlled. 

Eights often communicate in a blunt, straightforward manner; their words are backed by tremendous depth, power, passion and energy. Their challenge is to moderate their forcefulness and to become adaptable in different situations. They are not afraid of conflict and can feel like conflict is connection. You may experience very high intensity from an Eight which they may experience as indicative of a connection with you. 

Enneagram Eights are known as being one of the most authentic Enneagram types. Healthy Eights can be trusted and, in turn, they want you to be honest and blunt with them. They are distrustful of people who “beat around the bush”. They can be a bit suspicious and, at times, cynical. 

They may act based on internal beliefs such as, “The world is a dangerous place in which the weak get taken advantage of and the strong survive.”, or, “I will not be at the mercy of anybody else. I will not let others control me. I will push back against limitations and authority sometimes.” 

Enneagram Eights are motivated by a need to assert power and control over the environment in order to mask vulnerability and weakness.

What aspect of your number do you experience most deeply? 

Strong sense of values and fear of being vulnerable

How could your coworkers better support you as an Enneagram Eight?

Understand my direct approach and not take things personally.

Denise L.

Accounting - Corporate

Enneagram Eight Strengths

Eights are very powerful personalities. They have a big presence no matter their size or stature. 

If there is a vacuum of leadership, an Eight will take it so they do not have to be controlled by someone else. This can make them rescuers of people. Because they are so strong and don’t want to be seen as weak, when they see people who are in vulnerable situations, they feel compelled to help them. 

Eights may act as activists rallying around a cause. One metaphor for an Eight is that of a bulldozer that is creating a helpful path for other people. They are strong enough to take the hits along the way, all the while clearing the way for others behind them.

Enneagram Eight Weaknesses

The core weakness for an Eight is excess or a lust for intensity, control, power. While acting as bulldozer is helpful in clearing a path for others, their tremendous focus and drive may result in them unintentionally plowing over others who are on the same path. They are not aware of their intensity and power. They are surprised when people say they are intimidated by them as they have a great heart for helping others. 

Eights often over-identify with their anger, which is displayed in their passionate communication style. Instead of being angry at individuals, they will be angry at systems; they can be justice-minded and focused on fixing something. When Enneagram Eights over-identify with their anger, they can become vengeful; they will want to not just win but destroy their opponent. They are powerful and can do it; thus, they have to be careful with the power that they have. 

Enneagram Eights can be excessive in all areas of life. They can work too much, eat too much, exercise too much. A healthy Eight is aware of his/her limits. 

Eights can be territorial. For instance, an Enneagram Eight boss may not like you to work remotely or to close the door to your office; in fact, s/he may just bust in to your office presuming that they “own” all that is on your desk. If you are an Eight, be mindful that people have their own autonomy. 

How to Support an Enneagram Eight at Work

Enneagram Eights are fearful of being weak, powerless, controlled, harmed, and at the mercy of injustice. Meanwhile, they have a burning desire to protect themselves and those in their tight, small inner circle. 

If an Enneagram Eight sees injustice, they move right in to get things done and resolve the injustice. They do not give up if they have something in their hearts. 

They are one of the most tender-hearted types on the Enneagram but they don’t show it because they’ve been betrayed and blindsided.  Consequently, they put up an external shield and resist vulnerability. 

Words Enneagram Eights long to hear: “You will not be betrayed”.

  1. If they come at you with high intensity, earn their respect by standing your ground. Enneagram Eights do not respect weakness. Be firm in what you need to express. This will help the Eight see that they are contending with an equal.
  2. Be direct with 8’s when you have an issue with them. If you beat around the bush and sugar-coat it, they will see this as weakness. 
  3. Get to the point quickly. Be clear and concise. 
  4. Their anger burns hot and fast, and then it’s over. Their anger will explode quickly, but then it’s gone & they’ve moved on. An Eight’s energy comes with passion. 
  5. Eights worry about being “too much” for others to handle. They are concerned that their anger makes people not want to interact with them. 
  6. Set limitations, boundaries, and expectations. These guardrails keep them engaged and busy. They have a LOT of energy. Can work 16 hours a day. Not happy unless she’s go-go-going all the time. 
  7. Enneagram Eights don’t like being told what to do. They tend to push back against authority. They are less concerned about controlling YOU than they are about you controlling THEM. 
  8. Be ready to be tested. Enneagram Eights will test people: can I trust you to bring me what’s real? They will poke and prod to see who they’re dealing with. 
  9. Stick to the plan. You cause harm to a relationship with an 8 by waffling. They respect a strong leader. Their mindset is: “Lead me, follow me, or get out of the way.” 
  10. Encourage their empathy and ability to see further ahead. We want them to be able to see enough ahead of them to know if they are about to run over someone. 

Do You Love Learning About The Enneagram?

I do, too! The more that we learn about ourselves, the more grace we have when the going gets tough. I created this free guide, “My 7 Favorite Enneagram Resources”, as a way for you to further your learning. Grab your FREE download now!

Personal Growth Areas

  1. As an Eight, when you feel anger rise up, remember that anger is a secondary emotion. What is one level deeper beneath your anger: is it sadness, anxiety, or something else? Take a moment to explore it.  
  2. Slow down long enough to think things through beyond instinct. Your gut drives you, however, sometimes your gut doesn’t have all the information. Include other people on your team who will need more time than you. 
  3. Practice dialogue in your interactions with others. Invite someone in to have a conversation where both parties are giving and receiving, especially when it’s someone you don’t respect.

Do you need someone in your corner?

It helps to talk through what you’re experiencing with someone you can trust. You’ll gain a second opinion, guidance, and the encouragement you need to take action.

If you are in a season where you need a coach, contact Anne via the Contact page.

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