Type Eight is called the Leader, the Challenger and the Protector because of their keen awareness of power dynamics: who is in control, who might need protection, who needs to be challenged. Leader 8s are usually blunt, direct, “what you see is what you get” people with forceful, big personalities. Sometimes described as a bull in a china shop, Leader 8s often get feedback at some point in their life that they are just too much for people or that they overwhelm others. Sharing vulnerable, softer emotions can be challenging for Leader 8s who are typically not comfortable expressing anything that feels like weakness.
Gifts to the World
Leader 8s offer the world leadership, resourcefulness, an interest in fairness and equality and protection for the underdog. Natural leaders, this type is decisive, strong and resourceful. Extremely tough, they keep going long after other people give up. The soldiers of the Enneagram, Leader 8s often defend the weak, vulnerable and underprivileged.
Leader 8s Typically Report
1) They Access Anger Easily
Leader 8s tend to overexpress anger. They report that anger comes up so fast, it feels almost impossible to stop even though they often regret the consequences. This anger is typically linked to feeling vulnerable, although most Leader 8s don’t experience it that way.
“I have literally seen red I’ve been so angry. I’ve been counseled at work that my anger is intimidating my coworkers, so I know I need to control it, but it’s hard. It just comes up so fast…”
2) Sharing Vulnerable Emotions is Difficult
Sharing anything that makes them feel vulnerable is challenging for Leader 8s. Their instinct is that the world isn’t a safe place and letting your guard down is dangerous. This type typically shuts down and goes into isolation when they are feeling hurt or sad and returns later when they are feeling less vulnerable. Because being vulnerable is so hard for Leader 8s, they can sometimes have issues with intimacy.
“I remember I was eleven years old and watching E.T. at the movie theatre. There was a really emotional scene where E.T. wanted to contact home. And my entire body was clenched so I wouldn’t cry because it was so important not to cry in a theater with other people around me.”
3) They Think about Revenge
Leader 8s think a lot about revenge, even though they may not actually act on it. They spend time mentally planning and imagining how they will right the wrong someone did to them or someone or something they care about. In some more extreme instances, they may act on it, but often the fantasy is enough.
“I have imagined blowing up buildings and destroying three generations of a family because one member did something that really pissed me off. And this isn’t just imagining I’d do it, I was thinking of what explosives I would need, where I would get them, and so forth. Of course in the end, I didn’t and wouldn’t act on it. But it took up space in my mind…”
Tools for Compassion If You Have Leader 8s in Your Life
1) Don’t Take Their Aggressive Speech Personally
Leader 8s are often extremely direct, blunt and sometimes loud and forceful. Their aggressive speech style can overwhelm others without them even realizing it. To the Leader 8, they are just being themselves, participating in the group. To others, they are intimidating.
“I started to understand there was a problem because I’d go to parties and immediately gravitate to where the energy was biggest and the conversation was the most lively. But after a few minutes of my arrival, people would start drifting away. And eventually, I’d be all alone in the room. This happened repeatedly so I knew it must be something I was doing wrong…”
2) Understand They Use Confrontation as a Measure of Where They Stand
Leader 8s are often confrontational as a way to understand their environment. This is automatic behavior for them, and counterintuitively Leader 8s relax more when the other person pushes back. Direct confrontation is much more comfortable for them than passive-aggressive or falsely submissive behavior.
“If someone doesn’t push back, I feel like I am punching a cloud. I have no idea where I stand or what to expect from the person. It’s really uncomfortable for me…”
3) Their Anger Isn’t Usually About What It’s About
It can be helpful to understand that Leader 8s get angry in response to feeling vulnerable. When an angry episode is unpackaged, the root cause is usually that the Leader 8 felt vulnerable, defenseless or exposed.