How Do Motivational Maps Fit In With The Enneagram?

Cogs and wheels

Nothing exists in a vacuum, and even the most original inventions and innovations tend to have their origins in something extant. In the case of Motivational Maps, there were several key influences in the development of the tool: Edgar Shein’s Career Anchors is one. Another is the ancient personality profiling system known as The Enneagram.

To be clear, there are several key differences between The Enneagram and the Motivational Map. At a most basic level, the Maps are not a personality profiling tool—so a pretty major divergence! However, structurally and symbolically the Maps and The Enneagram are closely intertwined, and understanding the similarities and differences between them can augment one’s understanding of not only each respective system, but also of the human condition.

So, if the Maps and The Enneagram are not the same type of tool, what other links are there between them? For a start, The Enneagram and Motivational Map both share a nine-point system (indeed, the Greek word “enneagram” means literally “nine points”). In The Enneagram, these are nine personality types. In the Maps, these are the nine motivators.

Whilst this may seem a superficial difference on the surface, one only has to look at all the other personality profiling and skills-based tools out there to realise how distinct this is. Most personality profiling tools use a variation based on multiples of four, perhaps harkening back to the medieval system of the “four humours”. Nine, therefore, is unusual.

And, as we shall see, nine is a number of special significance. For one thing, it naturally lends itself to being organised into triads. Both Maps and The Enneagram do this, with three groups of three types / motivators. In the case of the Enneagram, the types are organised into groups determined by their “centre of intelligence”: the head (thinking), the heart (feeling), and the body / gut (knowing / instinct).

The Maps breaks down into the R.A.G. clusters, an acronym standing for Relationship, Achievement, and Growth.

One can already see from the naming convention alone that these also correspond with the centres of intelligence present in The Enneagram. Relationship motivators are generally more feeling orientated; Achievement motivators more orientated towards thinking and cerebral activities; and Growth motivators more about gut instinct and that “knowing” often associated with spirituality.

Unlike the Maps, The Enneagram describes fixed points that we abide in. One cannot change one’s Enneagram type. Each Enneagram type possesses what some writers refer to as a “primary fixation” or “primary addiction” which defines the central struggle of one’s life. For example, in the case of the 8-type, the central fixation is lust for dominance. Balancing and integrating this “fixation” is therefore the lifelong goal of the 8-type.

In the case of the Maps, we are not defined by any single type. Instead, we all possess all nine motivators, but in a priority order, and to varying degrees of intensity. Furthermore, our motivations may change over time, as they are influenced by our experiences.

This may seem contradictory, but in reality, these two systems are complementary. The Enneagram allows us to correctly identify and describe the part of us that is fixed and largely unchangeable (perhaps even biological in some sense). The Maps allows us to measure the other part of us that shifts and changes according to our experiences and beliefs. To continue our earlier example, knowing that one is an 8-type, and has a fixation upon lust for dominance, might become highly relevant if, for example, we also have the Director motivator very high in our profile. The Director motivator reflects the desire for control of people and resources. In combination with the 8’s lust for power, this could be a very problematic combination for subordinates and colleagues! But knowing that we have a predisposition for excess, especially in relation to power, we might be able to temper ourselves more readily than if we purely looked at either the motivator or Enneagram type in isolation.

Of course, certain motivators and Enneagram types tend to walk hand in hand. This should not be taken to reductive levels, as the power of the Maps is that they do not stereotype or reduce to a single archetype. However, given that the Enneagram types are informed by certain deeply, deeply seated core beliefs, it is only natural that these beliefs will influence our motivational profiles. For example, the 1-type on the Enneagram is concerned with morality and perfection—indeed, they are often called the “moral reformer”. This naturally chimes with the Searcher motivator, which is about the desire to make a difference in the world. It is not to say that every 1 on the Enneagram also has Searcher as their number one motivator, but understanding the links between our personality and motivators can lead to deeper understanding of why we do what we do.

Of course, where there exist conflicting motivators and Enneagram types, this can provide really deep insight. For example, an individual who was a 1-type on the Enneagram, but also had Builder as their number one motivator, would probably feel very conflicted between wanting to make a difference to people, to “do the right thing”, but also wanting to make tons of money and have that successful lifestyle. There are two things to say about this. Firstly, there are a number of reasons that Builder might have become their number one motivator, including a sudden horrendous tax bill from the government, or a looming debt that needs to be repaid. Secondly, a great coach will work with an individual in this state to help them find the “way through”, which is often a synthesis and integration of these seemingly disparate elements. Maybe there is a way for this person to help others and also make money. We tend to think along narrow and linear lines, especially when we are in the midst of a problem or crisis, and the job of a great coach is to help people see the wider picture! This is easier when you, as a coach, can see more of the picture by virtue of having the right combination of tools at your disposal.

There is no easy formula to understand human behaviour, and for every rule there exists an exception, but with both the ancient wisdom of the Enneagram and the science-backed insight of the Motivational Map, one is better able to triangulate the cause-and-effect relationship between belief and behaviour, thought and action, habit and success.

For more information about the Motivational Maps and the Enneagram, you can read Mapping Motivation.

Contact a licensed Motivational Maps practitioner HERE


How to Avoid Over-Simplification With The Alchemy of Motivational Maps


The human brain loves shortcuts.

This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, creating neurological shorthands allows us to “automate” certain functions and therefore devote more brainpower to the big picture. On the other hand, this conceals the true nature of reality from us. How many times have you driven to work only to realise, once you arrived, that you cannot remember a single detail of what you thought about or what happened on the drive? Or, even worse, how many times have you exchanged polite pleasantries with a work colleague only to realise afterwards that you cannot remember a single pertinent detail of the exchange? We don’t do this maliciously or because we don’t care, simply because our brains are hardwired to make as many functions as easy and simple as possible for us.

Because of this, we have a tendency to over-simplify things. We reduce politics to two camps, when the reality is more nuanced. We reduce life itself to two camps: work and pleasure, when there are many shades in between. We offer up innumerable simplifications of the formula for success, happiness, or wellbeing, when anyone who has explored these topics in any depth knows that there is no simple formula.

We take complex and nuanced systems and try to boil them down to the essentials. But often, in doing this, we lose a great deal of the meaning, elegance, and perhaps most importantly the efficacy of these systems. The power often lies in the complexity.

The Motivational Maps is a self-perception inventory. Unlike personality profiling tools or skills-based tools, a Motivational Maps profile does not assign a person a single grand “archetype” that becomes emblematic of their personhood. All of us have all nine motivators, but we hold these motivators in an order of priority. In other words, most of us tend to have two or three motivators that are more dominant than the others. And most of us tend to have one or two motivators which are so low in our priority that we actively avoid them!

However, because of the human hardwiring, it’s often the case that we look at the top motivator in our profile and take that as our grand archetype. It’s much easier and simpler to do this, of course, than looking at the complex alchemy of how all our motivators might interrelate.

But we must do our best to avoid this at all costs. As I said in my introduction, using these intellectual “shorthands” denies us the pleasure and fullness of reality. If we truly want to understand ourselves, and understand our motivations, then we have to fully embrace the complexity even though it is harder.

In the words of Theodore Roosevelt:

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

So, with Motivational Maps, we take the harder path. But the reward—an enviable life—is worth it!

If you would like to know more about Motivational Maps then contact one of our licensed Motivational Maps Practitioners - you can find some of them HERE.

Using Motivational Maps as a leadership tool?

9 reasons for using Motivational Maps as leadership tool...

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Everywhere in the business, management and even national presses and social media sites we go, we find the constant refrain of a lack of productivity in the UK, and this has been going on since the financial crisis of 2008. It has been exacerbated, of course, by the Covid epidemic which has proved an unexpected game changer, particularly for those organisations that simply cannot get their staff back into their offices. There is much wringing-of-hands and wailings of despair as not much seems to improve as we ‘progress’ to we know not where!

But one thing is very clear to me: that every single level in our society we need to improve the quality of our leadership. Indeed, I think most people would concede that the general level of leadership we see around us is – at best – poor. So many of our leaders seem clueless or simply corrupt: the Post Office scandal, HS2, Nat West and De-Banking, and more and more besides. As Sun Tzu observed long ago, ‘… competitive success … is determined by leadership skill alone’. Our almost complete failure in this area is indicative of the problem.

What, then, can be done to improve the situation? The first thing is to understand what leadership is and I would refer people to my book, co-written with Jane Thomas, Mapping Motivation for Leadership (Routledge, 2019) for an in-depth look. The title of the book, though, gives one thing away: motivation is central to being an effective leader. They are in fact a hand-in-glove combo. Leaders who do not motivate people do not, and cannot, achieve anything like what truly motivational leaders do!

Here are nine reasons for using Motivational Maps in your leadership practice.

Personalized Leadership Approach

First, Motivational Maps provides what might be termed a personalized leadership approach. They provide insights into the unique drivers and needs of each team member, allowing leaders to tailor their leadership approach to individuals rather than employing a one-size-fits-all strategy. In our culture today, this is vital. With staff shortages prevalent, it is no good being ignorant of what the differences between Baby Boomers, generation X, Millenials and generation Alpha entering the work force are. Being really clear on the cultural differences and what the motivational profiles are can only be a major asset to the leader. Actually, understanding what staff really want is a major plus and leap forward in any generation.

Enhanced Employee Engagement

Second, and this follows from point 1: Understanding what motivates employees can lead to higher levels of engagement as leaders can align tasks and responsibilities with individuals' intrinsic motivations, resulting in a more fulfilling work experience. Add to this the Reward Strategy ideas that are inherent in all Motivational Map work, and you have a simple and easy-to-follow recipe for enhanced employee engagement.

Improved Communication

Third, by their very nature Motivational Maps facilitate open and honest conversations between leaders and team members about their motivations, preferences, and goals; this fosters better understanding and communication within the team. I think it was Brian Tracy who maintained that 85% of any organisations’ problems were down to communication issues. Thus, using Motivational Maps – and its objective, non-judgemental, non-stereo-typing language – leads to seriously improved communication.

Increased Productivity

Fourth, increased productivity. By aligning tasks and goals with employees' motivations, leaders can increase productivity as individuals are more likely to be energized and committed to their work, resulting in higher levels of output and efficiency. High levels of performance correlate with high levels of energy (motivation) multiplied by high levels of skill (and knowledge). This is core, and the general movement away from considering performance as the number one issue for an organisation (that is, for the leader to address), and substituting for it instead political ideologies and virtue-signalling, is a pathology that can only undermine the organisation in the long run.

Effective Talent Management

Fifth, Motivational Maps can help leaders identify and nurture talent within their teams by recognizing individuals' unique strengths, motivations, and potential areas for development. This means: effective talent management. In a world in which the Talent Wars are real, and in which there is a shortage of talent, this is a major competitive advantage, because not only does it mean that one retains the best but also …

Reduced Staff Turnover

Sixth, it leads to reduced staff turnover. A better understanding of employees' motivations allows leaders to create a work environment that meets their needs and fosters a sense of belonging, reducing turnover rates and retaining top talent within the organization. Of course, this reduces costs and so can contribute to profitability.

Enhanced Team Dynamics

Seventh, by assembling teams based on complementary motivational profiles, leaders can promote collaboration, creativity, and synergy among team members, leading to improved team dynamics and performance (again, this word!). These enhanced team dynamics unlock not just synergy but unforeseen potentialities. It truly promotes diversity: of motivations and so of thinking – and so of possibilities.

Proactive Conflict Resolution

Eighth, Motivational Maps enable leaders to anticipate and address potential conflicts arising from differences in motivations, preferences, and work styles, leading to more effective conflict resolution and reduced tension within the team. The objective language of Motivational Maps enables time and again the a-ha moments that come when people realise that other members are not the enemy, but just different in their motivational drives; this can be so helpful and so healing. Motivational Maps, then, promote proactive conflict resolution.

Strategic Decision-Making

Finally, and ninth, leaders can use insights from Motivational Maps to make more informed decisions about resource allocation, task assignment, and organizational strategy, ensuring that initiatives are aligned with employees' motivations and the overall goals of the organization. Effectively, contribute to strategic decision-making. This is particularly true when the Organisational Motivational Map is deployed; it has a suite of tools that enable leaders to be able to pinpoint where discrepancies occur between the leaders’ motivations and organisational values, and the employees’ view of, and feelings about, things.

Ultimately, incorporating Motivational Maps into leadership practices can lead to a more engaged, productive, and cohesive teams, driving better business outcomes and greater organizational success. Why not find a practitioner and experience this for yourself?