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Enneagram – Leadership: An Interview with Bart Wendell, Ph.D.


When Bart Wendell – a seasoned business consultant, meeting facilitator, and Senior Member of the Enneagram in Business Network – told me he was writing a leadership-meeting-Enneagram book, I could hardly wait for its arrival. Hot Leaders; Cool Facilitators: Learning to Lead One Meeting at a Time is a great book, so I decided to interview Bart about it for my blog. Here it is!

Question: With so many leadership books available and your very busy consulting schedule, what made you decide to take time to write this book?

Bart: Meetings are fascinating, ripe with great possibilities! But I became continually frustrated watching potentially great leaders display such a lack of competence that they actually sucked energy from meetings, even though this is not their intention. Just like parents who get no preparation for parenting; so leaders get no preparation for leading meetings.

My intention was to fill the middle ground between books on meeting management and books that focus on theories of organizational leadership and describe what great organizational leadership actually looks like in a meeting.

Question: This is a leadership book; why include the Enneagram?
Bart: I wasn’t going to include the Enneagram originally, though I do love the Enneagram and find it immensely helpful. But then I realized that leadership is about bringing the right focus to the right things at the right time. And it is hard to do this consistently and persistently. To accomplish this, leaders have to have access to all energies: the Head, Heart, and Gut. They also have to take the temperatures of these three energies, and this is much harder to do without the Enneagram. With the Enneagram, leaders can more easily tap into their Head, Hearts, and Guts.

Gut Energy

The Gut energy is hot. Hot energy drives for results. It says, “Let’s go. Everybody in the truck! I’m driving!” However, this kind of energy doesn’t pay attention to bumps in the road or worry about a possible cliff ahead, but it does get you someplace different from where you started.

Head Energy

The Head energy is cool. It provides perspective, checking in on progress and dates. Cool energy asks if this is the right truck for the right road, and do we have the right products in the back of the truck? Of course, in the meanwhile the products are becoming stale and out of date, but the thoughtful analysis continues.

Heart Energy

The Heart energy is warm. It provides vision, commitment, and asks questions like these: What do we really want and what can we truly commit to? Essentially, Heart energy is about caring. Using only the Head (cool) and Gut (hot) without the Heart (warm) is half-hearted thinking and action. Hot and cool energies are voracious momentum seekers; with hot and cool leaders, the more they get, the more they want. And warm energy is ephemeral; it comes and goes quickly, is sensitive to temperature, and can get overshadowed.

Question: What, in your opinion, makes a great leader?
Bart: Hot, cool, and warm! That’s it. Leadership is about motivating people to wish to do the right thing more than once, helping access energy and motivation they didn’t know they had. It’s about accessing and using these three energies: understanding (Head), acting (Gut) and caring (Heart)!

Question: Can you give 3 words of sage advice on leadership development?

Honesty – knowing yourself and being honest with self

Focus – being mindful of where you are, being able to bring your energies in line with your intentions

Reading Others – being able to accurately sense other peoples’ temperatures, helping them recalibrate 

Question: If you had one main message to give leaders about leadership and about the Enneagram, what would that be?

Bart: It’s the hunt, not the capture, that’s important. What’s important about the Enneagram is trying to figure out what type you are yourself  – to be curious about yourself – which doesn’t happen when you find your type in two minutes.  Knowing your type is helpful because a whole window of learning opens up about yourself, but the process is always far more important than the destination.

Thanks, Bart! 

Bart Wendell, Ph.D. is a business consultant, psychologist, past Vice President of the International Enneagram Association, and author of Hot Leaders; Cool Facilitators: Learning to Lead One Meeting at a Time. bwendell@wendellleadership.com

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