The Enneagram provides managers with the tools they need to become more self-aware of their personality type, its impact on others, and how it plays into their leadership. Managers can also use the assessment to learn about their employees’ personality styles to better collaborate with them and nurture a more engaged workforce.

Enneagram types 5, 6, and 7 compose the Thinking or Head Triad. These individuals bring qualities like groundedness, dedication, and rational thinking to our work teams. They act through their “head center” by working through problems or conflicts, not driven by emotion, but rather by thinking or rationalizing.

In recent blog posts, I discussed the origin and significance of the Enneagram in the workplace, and the personality styles that comprise the Gut Triad (8, 9, and 1) and the Heart Triad (2, 3, and 4).

I continued my conversation with Chelsie Sargent, certified International Enneagram expert and E3’s own Enneagram Trainer, to wrap up our four-part series on this insightful personality evaluation. Below are highlights from our conversation about each of the styles that make up the Thinking Triad.

The Enneagram: Understanding Personality Styles 5, 6, and 7

Tune in to this week’s episode of Thrive By Design: The Podcast for my full conversation with Chelsie. 

Don: Does each person only have one number on the Enneagram that matches their personality, or is it a little less narrow?

Chelsie: An important thing to understand about the Enneagram is you are going to be able to see a little bit of yourself in all of the numbers. That’s one of the reasons it’s depicted as a circle. We are multidimensional human beings, and we have so many different things that make us who we are. One of the biggest things to remember as you’re learning about each number on the Enneagram is your motives. What motivates you is the indicator of what your number is. Your primary Enneagram type is going to indicate what you’re fundamentally motivated by, but your overall personality can have elements of all of the numbers.

Even within these nine personality types, there’s a great amount of individual expression. How one Type 1 person acts is going to be very different from someone else who’s also a 1 – they’re each going to have their own individual personality. But, what motivates them is the same.


Don: Tell us about 5s.

Chelsie: 5s are known as the Intellects or Investigators. They are information gatherers, focused on data and facts. This personality style is commonly going to report that they are introverted. They’re great at compartmentalizing. 5s really value alone time and they need it to recharge. They start out with a certain amount of energy every day, and when their energy is gone, it’s gone. Healthy 5s have to know how to space out their energy. This practice is crucial for a Type 5 leader to understand because when they are managing a team, it takes a lot out of them. When they walk into the office every day, it’s important for them to understand they are not going to have a significant amount of energy to give to everyone, so they need to know how to parcel it out to their team throughout the day.

Don: What’s the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy 5?

Chelsie: An unhealthy 5 is going to be stingy with their time. They can withdraw from their team, become cynical, and can turn inward because they like being in their head and figuring things out on their own.

On the other hand, healthy 5s enjoy gathering data, mastering knowledge, and helping bring their team into those areas. Because they excel at information gathering, they can expand the parameters on what the team knows about topics. They are also very objective during conflict. When a confrontation happens on a team, 5s don’t shy away from it, and they bring a sense of being able to see from all sides. They are typically very level headed in the workplace.

Don: If a manager is working with a 5 on their team, what’s the best way to interact with them and ensure they’re successful in the workplace?

Chelsie: 5s can sometimes have difficulty relating to other people. They also feel uncomfortable when they have to deal with other people’s feelings – they don’t want to get involved in that. 5s don’t like depending on other people at all; they really like being autonomous. When a manager gives 5s tasks, they’re going to get the work done. They don’t need a lot of managing or people standing over them, because they value their manager’s time.


Chelsie: 6s are the Loyalists. They are the people who think through situations and try to determine worst case scenarios or potential problems. 6s tend to be the most anxious number on the Enneagram. They are natural questioners who have a hard time making quick decisions. They do question authority, but once they trust and respect the person who’s leading them, they’re loyal and protective of the team.

Don: What would a manager see in a healthy 6 versus an unhealthy 6?

Chelsie: 6s are the mortar between our bricks – they keep everything together. Healthy 6s are insightful, think through situations to catch problems, and are very loyal team members and colleagues.

An unhealthy 6 is not self-aware of how much fear can play into their decision-making, so they can get lost in that fear. Instead of approaching decision-making with mindfulness or empowerment, they let their anxieties lead all of their decisions.


Don: Walk us through the last of the nine personality styles on the Enneagram – the 7s.

Chelsie: The 7s are known as the Enthusiasts. Like the 8s and 3s, these people bring a lot of energy to your team. They are optimistic and adventurous, and a lot of people say they bring the fun to any situation. 7s like to have the freedom to pursue several options and don’t like limits. They want to be able to experience a lot of different things.

In the workplace, 7s excel at brainstorming and envisioning all the possibilities of how your organization can grow and move forward. They look at the bright side of things. One of their shadow qualities or negative parts is that they have difficulty dealing with negative emotions. They want everything to feel optimistic. If the team is struggling or there’s a lot of negativity in the team, a 7 can have a really hard time functioning in that environment.

Don: As a manager, if you have a 7 on your team, what are the things you should be aware of and how can you most successfully interact with this employee?

Chelsie: 7s are very people-oriented and supportive. Empower them to be the cheerleaders of your team. They’re also great networkers, so put them out in places where they can speak to other people about your product or what your business does. 7s are really good at boosting team morale. If you’re a leader who’s a healthy 7, you’re going to bring a lot of positivity to the room. If you have a 7 on your team, one of the things you have to be mindful of is how, and how often, you are putting limitations around them. It’s essential to work on empowering them, so they don’t feel like you’re just saying “no” to them all the time.

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Key Takeaways:

  • The Enneagram personality types 5, 6, and 7 make up the Thinking Triad, and these numbers bring qualities like groundedness, dedication, and rational thinking to our workplaces.
  • 5s are very focused on data and facts, are typically low-energy individuals, and need alone time to recharge. Unhealthy 5s can withdraw from their team and become cynical, so it’s vital for them to spread out their energy in order to be present for their team every day.
  • 6s are insightful, think through situations, and are loyal. An unhealthy 6 is not self-aware of how much fear can play into their decision-making and they struggle to make quick decisions. It’s important for this personality style to work toward making decisions from a place of mindfulness or empowerment instead of allowing their anxieties to lead them.
  • 7s are energetic, enthusiastic, and adventurous. A 7 who is unhealthy has a hard time dealing with negative emotions, so if they are part of a team that’s struggling or has a lot of negativity, it can be particularly difficult for them.


Thinking Triad, The Enneagram Depot,

Type 5 ~ The Observer, Dr. David Daniels,

Type 6 ~ The Loyal Skeptic, Dr. David Daniels,

Type 7 ~ The Epicure, Dr. David Daniels,