As the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election heats up, people are questioning the candidates' temperaments to be Commander In Chief.
The inquiry gets skewed, however, to the extent it focuses on which kind of temperament is inherently superior to any other. Any kind of temperament can lend itself to high public office, and none are intrinsically better than any other.
The proper question is which candidate has the most integrated temperament -- the one most internally balanced and healthy -- regardless of what kind of temperament it is.
This is the introductory post in a series. Click these links or the below buttons for analysis of the personality styles of Trump, Clinton & Obama.
The goal is not to debate policy or to promote any particular candidate. (Full disclosure: my politics are progressive.)
Rather, the goal is to investigate the Enneagram's power to disclose personality dynamics, motivations, and decision-making behavior, and to better identify its nine personality styles in our own lives by seeing them embodied in public figures.
Temperament & Enneagram
Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said the 2016 U.S. presidential election is "a race about temperament." And Face The Nation moderator John Dickerson wrote, "A president’s temperament is his most important quality and it is the hardest to measure in the candidates who desire the office."
Temperament is another word for innate character dispositions or personality patterns. The ancient physician Hippocrates classified temperaments into four types, seen in the image to the left.
The Personality Enneagram is a system describing nine basic personalities, called ennea-types (ennea means nine). The ennea-types are archetypal temperaments, and the Enneagram describes them with startling accuracy. Their names, indicated in the diagram to the left, are guides only.
Each of us runs one of the nine ennea-types. Learn more about the Enneagram here, and discover your own ennea-type here. Though some styles have natural leadership qualities (8, 9, 3), no doubt there have been remarkable leaders of all types throughout history.
Typing the Candidates & POTUS
Typing others is tricky business: often we miss the mark or deny others the opportunity of self-discovery.
Such concerns carry less force when typing these three well-known figures. They voluntarily submit themselves to public scrutiny, and temperament is, and ought to be, fair game in politics.
Donald Trump runs the Type 8 ennea-style, Barack Obama runs the Type 9, and Hillary Clinton runs the Type 1. I include Barack Obama's type to get a sense of contrast with the candidates' styles.
Integration & Disintegration
Each of us potentially manifests our ennea-type patterns in a way that is integrated, wholesome, and helpful. At times, each of us also can display these patterns in a way that is less integrated, less wholesome, and less helpful.
The more consistently integrated our ennea-types, the more connected, fulfilled, and whole we feel. 'ME-centered' concerns dissolve. Our personality patterns are used in service of a discerning wisdom and fierce compassion. We become more presently available; we become Presence itself.
When less integrated, we are driven by obsessive self-concern. We feel separate, isolated, and alienated. Our personality patterns organize around a strong sense of ME and react habitually, unconsciously, and unskillfully in furtherance of ME.
Pioneering experts Don Riso and Russ Hudson mapped nine stages on each of the nine ennea-type's respective paths of development, grouped in three categories: the high-healthy, average, and low-unhealthy. This post draws heavily on their work.
Key to the level of integration of any ennea-type are the ennea-types on its "connecting lines." For example, Type 8 is connected to Type 5 and Type 2. When more integrated, we recover resource from, and run the higher patterns of, our sister ennea-types along these connecting lines.
One could vote for a leader who has the particular ennea-type befitting the era. Another approach is to ask: which leader displays the most integrated temperament, most often, regardless of ennea-type?
Leaders who are less integrated tend to be self-serving tyrants who exploit those they serve. Leaders who are more integrated tend to be magnanimous visionaries who serve those they lead.
Click Images For Source
Readers can decide for themselves at what level of development Trump, Obama, and Clinton primarily operate.
Is Trump more often an instrument of justice with a big heart; or a hard-working, intimidating, no-nonsense boss; or a dictatorial, megalomaniacal, narcissistic brute? Read Trump - Type 8 here.
Is Obama more often a visionary unifier with sound judgment, forged from walking in everyone's shoes; or an appeasing, self-effacing, indecisive disengaged dreamer; or a paralyzed, aloof, passive-aggressive empty suit? Read Obama - Type 9 here.
Is Clinton more often a wise, uplifting, moral agent acting with integrity; or an orderly, rigid, picky, workaholic; or a corrupt, arbitrary, fury-filled busy-body? Read Clinton - Type 1 here.
I draw several conclusions from the above analysis: (1) presidential temperament matters; (2) there is no inherently better temperament style, or ennea-type, for presidential leadership; (3) nonetheless, there may be a right temperament for the right time; and (4) regardless, the more integrated our leaders' temperaments function, and the more often, the better for everyone.
I hasten to emphasize: periods of disintegration are natural and necessary. When met fully, honestly, and compassionately, disintegration vitally contributes to deep transformation. It's the catalyst of change and the ground of new growth.
While each of us moves up and down our ennea-type levels of development, we tend to operate mostly at one level. Profound disintegration can result in moving our operating locus to a new, higher level. The pertinent question, then, is: at what level of development are we -- and our leaders -- primarily operating?
Partisans too often rush to celebrate the high side of their champions and condemn the low side of their foes. A clear-eyed temperament assessment wisely starts with an assumption of average functioning and adjusts from there. Of course, temperament is not the only decision point. Presidential leadership is complex. Voters, rightly, assess many factors, such as substantive policy positions, values, experience, and basic trust.
These are transforming times in which, collectively, we appear to be moving through a period of disintegration and renewal. Technology, social media, and evolving notions of privacy join what appears to be a rising tide of collective consciousness to create an atmosphere in which no one can hide their shadows, least of all public figures. The good news: these shadows must come into the light of awareness in order to be transformed and integrated. Facilitating our metamorphosis is the unearthing of humanity's wisdom traditions and their contemplative practices. The Enneagram is among these precious treasures.
For the sake of this world, troubled as it is with global growing pains, transformation of shadows -- individual and collective -- and liberation of energy for higher purposes cannot come soon enough.
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This EnneaBit is offered as an opportunity to learn more about the 891 ennea-styles. Your feedback by email is welcome. I hope to post some of your thoughtful responses.