Enneagram Three At Work

by | Last updated Oct 2, 2021 | Executive Women

Who is the Enneagram Three at Work?


The Achiever, The Effective Person, The Performer

Enneagram Threes are motivated by a need to succeed, to appear successful, and to avoid failure at all costs. Threes are energized by efficiency, goals, and tasks. Tremendously effective, enthusiastic, and productive, Threes are highly motivated to move quickly on actions that accomplish results. Accordingly, overwork and burnout can be a concern for Threes. 

Threes have an amazing ability to shapeshift- they can adapt and excel at anything, often by breaking things down into bite-size goals and focusing on mission statements. A healthy Three is a lot of fun!

Threes can be challenged by feeling like their worth comes from what they do instead of who they are. They are motivated by a drive for success and/or a fear of failure. A growing edge for a Three is to take time to listen to others and to build strong relationships long-term.


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Enneagram Three Strengths

Threes can get.stuff.done. They have goals which they support with plans that produce results. As pragmatists, Threes know what works and what it takes to make something happen. They are amazing at focusing on the task at hand and being resourceful with what already exists in the marketplace that can serve their needs.Threes do less of their own creating and more borrowing what’s already working, then adding their spin to it. Accordingly, they have to be mindful to not take credit for things that are not theirs. 

The Enneagram Three will work hard to be the best and to make their company the best. They compete to win and want to bring the whole team along with them. 

Threes have a knack for entering a room and gauging it well. They ask themselves, “What would be successful here? What would be admired here? What does everybody want from me?” They have little difficulty talking about things that they’re not that skilled at and, if necessary, embellishing the truth to seem admirable. 

They do a lot of things well and receive a lot of recognition for their skills; however, it is important to note that under the surface, they have a deep fear of being exposed as something less than their successful image. They’re always striving and thus always in need of learning how to exhale.

What aspect of your number do you experience most deeply?

Threes are energized by efficiency, goals, and tasks. Tremendously effective, enthusiastic, and productive, Threes are highly motivated to move quickly on actions that accomplish results.

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

I am very task-oriented and don’t like a lot of “fluff”. I need people to get right to the point, especially under a deadline. I don’t handle a 180-degree shift well once we have agreed on a plan and the plan is working. The “what about this” idea at the eleventh hour is super frustrating for me. I have to consciously focus on being more open and listening to the latecomers. The challenge is my boss is a latecomer.

Samantha D.

Operations, Education

Enneagram Three Weaknesses

Threes may escape their feelings through productivity. If you put a Three in a place where they are isolated from people, it will be increasingly difficult for a Three to access their emotions because they have their heads down being productive. As their manager, you may need to remind a Three to look up and take a moment to connect with others. 

Threes do not like to be interrupted and may react negatively to people who do so. Their bristling reaction may be interpreted as them being rude when they are actually just so task-focused rather than people-focused. Talking in bullet points and sound bites can make a Three come across as too direct. 

They deceive themselves into thinking that they exist only as the image they present to others. Threes can become consumed by checking off their list of to-dos or goals. In fact, they feel so horrible when they cannot check off their list that they only set goals they know they can achieve. 

Sadly, a Three may believe they’re only as good as their last success rather than taking time to relish in their cumulative successes.

Communication Style: Enneagram Three

Communication Style: Enneagram Three

Heart Triad





How to Support an Enneagram Three at Work

The Enneagram Three desires to be admired and respected. She wants her time to be worthwhile and to be successful at all things. Accordingly, she’s fearful of being seen as incompetent, worthless, or a failure. Deep down, she wants to know she is loved simply for who she is; she does not have to earn, achieve, or perform in order to be loved. 

Support the Enneagram Three in your workplace with the following statements and behaviors: 

  1. “I see you, and I really admire you.” Threes don’t mind a bit of flattery. Saying to a Three, “You’re so successful”, or, “You’re someone who wins” signals to a three that you admire them, which in turn gives them energy. 
  2. Be mindful of your body language. 3’s can see this in other’s body posture, their eyes, how they might defer to that person, etc.  
  3. Set clear expectations of what a “win” looks like. Give them a goal, such as, “Sell this many units by this date”, then incentivize them with promotions or bonuses. They love to know, “I killed it! I exceeded expectations.” 
  4. Publicly acknowledge their win. A little spotlight on a Three goes a long way. 
  5. In conversation with a Three, get to the bottom line first. Tell them the end result or where your story is going, then tell them the rest. A Three can become distracted if they don’t know where you are going with a conversation. 
  6. If you are managing a Three, you need to sell what it is you need them to do. Tell them that you’ve already shopped the options, and this one will lead to the best outcome. The selling aspect of your communication with a Three is important. 
  7. Threes crave feedback. Set up good increments of time to check in on how things are going. 
  8. Recognize their efforts (not just the accomplishment), even if they made it look effortless. They have a few key people they want acclaim from. 

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. Schedule stillness. This doesn’t mean going on a run with a podcast in your ears; rather, this is time to sit and do nothing. Give your mind the space in which new ideas can be welcomed. Watch as your productivity increases even when you’re still. 
  2. Work from a place of rest. Practice resting first, and then going. Start slow- five or ten minutes at a time without distractions. Rest all aspects of yourself: body, mind, and soul.
  3. Put down what is in your hands when you are talking to someone. Be present and make the investment into the relationship rather than disassociating and/or withdrawing from your emotions. Trying to multitask relationships will end in disappointment and hurt feelings
Enneagram 3 at work infographic