Difficult People Decoded: The Boss
This is the Enneagram type that everyone in the office is trying to figure out or aspire to be. Eights are called The Boss. These people are decisive, protective, and prone to anger. They thrive on taking on challenges and rallying a team for battle. They are natural leaders.
It can be easy to confuse this type with the Achiever (Three) since both are driven to succeed at all costs. But the key distinguishing factor is control. Threes are fine taking a back seat as long as their team is winning, but the Eights need to be in charge otherwise they have a tendency to withdraw and pout.
“Early on, Eights got the impression that the world punishes soft tendencies. They may have experienced being repressed or pushed around as children. Perhaps they could trust no one but themselves. Some Eights also report that their parents rewarded strength. Eights have developed the feeling that the strong rule the world and the weak have drawn the short straw.”
Consequently, their shadow is lust – specifically for power. Their basic fear is having somebody else in control. They have a deep fear of vulnerability that comes with being under somebody else’s thumb. To that end, Eights do whatever it takes to get ahead. They easily sacrifice relationships for the sake of working toward their goals.
As their shell hardens to protect themselves, they become highly attuned to real or assumed affronts to their authority. Unhealthy Eights rule by fear and I am saddened that this is the traditional model for most managers in the workplace.
The opportunity for growth here is the opposite of lust: innocence. It’s important to remember that an Eight’s aggressive posture is a reaction to their own buried innocence. Eights really find their stride by championing innocence and fighting for just causes. A good friend who knew Mother Theresa confided in me that she was indeed an Eight.
Practical suggestions for Eights are to try to yield the floor to others more and listen. Give others a chance to run that regularly scheduled meeting. Assuming everybody is against you drives more people away than you intend. Remember that power is fleeting and has nothing to do with your self-worth in this world.
- “We need to get moving”
- “My way or the highway”
- “That’s not your job”
- “I never cry”
- Likes to take charge
Examples: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fidel Castro, Lyndon Johnson, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nancy Pelosi, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Saddam Hussein, Donald Trump, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Serena Williams, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Pink, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis, Mae West, Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Roseanne Barr, Barbara Walters, Rosie O’Donnell, “Tony Soprano”
How To Work With An Eight:
- Stand up for yourself
- Be aware of their aggressive streak
- Do not gossip or betray them
- Do not cower
- Avoid whining
- Be direct and confident
- Acknowledge, but don’t flatter
- Reveal your vulnerability so they feel freedom to do the same