"No problem is ever solved by the mindset that created it." Albert Einstein
What is your success rate in having your clients follow your advice? In the medical field, it is common knowledge that if a doctor's “orders” require a lifestyle change, (a change in mindset) the rate of compliance is 5%. So 19 out of 20 people go to a doctor and don't change the way they live, even if their health or life depends on it. You usually don't have the emotional clout someone in a white coat does, so if you are trying to bring about personal change, you have a difficult task.
Why meta coaching?
As long as your coaching suggestions mesh with their mindset, you're going to do well. Tell style Eights to be aggressive and style Threes to work hard. Tell Sixes to work within the community and you're going to be successful. So will your client and you'll get the credit. But it's like taking credit for pushing a car down hill. You helped, but gravity had a heavy hand in it.
Of course it would be helpful to know your client's underground motivational strategies, their most persistent focus of attention and their world view, but discerning an Enneagram style is difficult; if you get it wrong, you even might make things worse.
It is usually time-consuming and/or expensive to give your client enneagram tests and unless you really know the Enneagram, it can be difficult to identify their style.
How it works
I've been teaching and using the Enneagram in coaching for 15 years now. If you would like to know your client's style, just have them respond to a dozen symbolic questions. Send their responses to me and I'll tell you their style. I'm doing this for a dozen coaches now and it works well. (We've never had to change our opinion of the client's style in 5 years now). After I get the questions, we'll have a conference call with the client and I'll go over how those questions reveal their focus, strategies and mindset. At that time, I will also suggest the most effective ways for you to work with each other. Some coaches just call and the two of us discuss the client. Other coaches prefer to have the client on the conference call. Works well either way.
A nice thing about the Enneagram is that you don't have to unlearn any of your coaching methods. What the Enneagram does is to suggest which of your many techniques will work best with this individual. An X-ray does not teach the surgeon, but it does suggest where to cut.
I did not just make up this strategy. I've taught about thirty coaches the Enneagram and this process just evolved as follow up to seminars and tutoring. If you're interested, just e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you the questions free of charge. If you know the Enneagram well enough and you have a preference for symbolic thinking, they should help you. Go for it. Test it out on a client. Then, if you really need to know their style to be more effective because you know how powerful their enneagram characteristics are, and you know how difficult personal change is, call me.