As an FBI counterintelligence agent, the key to recruiting a foreign spy to work for the U.S. government was forming an accurate assessment of their personality. I used emotional intelligence to understand their personality traits so I could move forward with confidence that I had everything I needed to craft a successful approach.

Forming a personality assessment allowed me to understand the foreign spy better than he understood himself. The reason is because many people do not possess the emotional intelligence to accurately interpret their own personality—let alone the personalities of others. 

Emotional intelligence had a powerful impact on my career as an FBI agent. 

The nugget of a personality assessment is uncovering the basic fear and desire of each personality type. This helps in interpreting behavior—both good and bad—as well as understanding the motivation behind it.

You cannot be mentally tough if you are not emotionally aware of your environment. 

As leaders, it’s important to build your emotional intelligence skills because tuning into the emotions that control different personalities will help you gain a more accurate view of your surroundings. This awareness impacts both relationships and the bottom line. 

Here are tips on how to use emotional intelligence to interpret and understand other people. I often relied upon the Enneagram to learn how nine personalities types express their emotions:


These folks want to improve the world by using whatever influence they have. They tend to be idealists who use phrases like “Because I say so,” and “You should.” This personality type believes there is a right way to do things, and they are more than willing to teach you. Thus, they can be very judgmental.

Think: Hillary Clinton or Martha Stewart.

Basic fear: being bad, defective, or corrupt in some way; they tend to overcompensate to make up for it. 

Basic desire: to have integrity because they believe that they are OK if they are doing what is right.


Leaders of this type genuinely want to help other people. Going out of their way to help people brings meaning to their life. They see themselves as supporting and empowering others and they often believe that others couldn’t succeed without their help.

Think: Mother Theresa or Eleanor Roosevelt

Basic fear: being unloved and unwanted for themselves alone.

Basic desire: to feel loved because they believe they are OK if they are loved by others.


They know how good it feels to develop themselves and contribute their talents to the world. They can motivate others to greater personal achievement than other thought they were capable of. Often they feel that the world is a contest they can win if they work hard and appear successful.

Think: Donald Trump or Tony Robbins.

Basic fear: being without value apart from their achievements.

Basic desire: to feel worthwhile and accepted because they believe they are OK if they are successful and others think well of them.


Leaders of this type see themselves as both uniquely talented and uniquely flawed. They seek the truth of their experiences and can process pain that might overwhelm others. They seek to be graceful and stylish, and yet feel something is missing.

Think: Vincent Van Gogh or Judy Garland

Basic Fear: having no personal significance or identity.

Basic Desire: to create an identity out of their personal experience because they are OK if they are true to themselves.


People with this personality type want to know why things work the way they do. They are always collecting information, searching, asking questions because they feel a strong need to test assumptions for themselves. They strive to become master of their own world built around special knowledge.

Think: Warren Buffett or Bill Gates

Basic Fear: being helpless and useless.

Basic Desire: to be capable and competent because they are OK if they have mastered something.


These leaders are incredibly loyal to friends and belief systems. They will defend their communities and others more tenaciously than they will fight for themselves. They tend to see the world as a dangerous place and that they need teams they feel are trustworthy allies. 

Think: J. Edgar Hoover or Richard Nixon

Basic Fear: having no support and being unable to survive on their own.

Basic Desire: to find security and support.


Leaders of this type are enthusiastic about almost everything that catches their attention. They approach life with a sense of adventure, optimism, and curiosity. Often, they flit from one idea to the other to stimulate their minds. The world as full of exciting possibilities for them.

Think: Richard Branson or John F. Kennedy

Basic Fear: of being deprived or trapped.

Basic Desire: to be happy and satisfied because they are OK if they get what they need.


This personality type has tremendous willpower and vitality, and they feel most alive when they are exercising these skills in their environment. They cultivate the qualities of persistence, will, and strength and these are the qualities they look for in others. They see themselves as strong and in control of their environment.

Think: John Wayne or George W. Bush

Basic Fear: being harmed or controlled by others.

Basic Desire: to protect themselves and determine their own course in life because they are OK if they are strong and in control of their situation.


These folks are devoted to the quest for internal and external peace in themselves and others. They work to maintain peace of mind just as they work to establish peace and harmony in their environment. They believe that everything will work out if they remain calm, affable, and connected.

Think: Jerry Seinfeld or Ronald Reagan

Basic Fear: to be separated from others.

Basic Desire: to maintain inner stability and peace of mind because they are OK as long as those around them are OK.

Emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learned by anyone, regardless of personality type. The more accurately you can understand yourself and those around you, the more effectively you can motivate them to perform at top levels of performance.


© 2014 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.” 

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