Listening is key to being successful in just about everything, especially relationships, and relationships are key to being a talented leader. One way to think about listening is through the three Centers of Intelligence – Head, Heart, and Body – that are central to the teachings of the Enneagram.

Let me give you a really quick break down on the three centers, which each encompass three Enneagram Types. Remember while we each access all three Centers of Intelligence, usually we lead with one.

The Heart Center (Types 2,3,4) is also known as The Image Center. These Enneagram Types are concerned with image and prestige; therefore, how they are seen by others matters greatly in how they feel about themselves and how well they navigate the world.

The Body Center includes Types 8,9,1, also known as gut Types. These Enneagram Types know the joys and sorrows of physical instincts. They actively take in clues from the kinesthetic world through physical sensations and the body.

The Head Center Types (5,6,7) pay great attention to thinking things through in a logical metal process and often like planning and knowledge.

Now, let’s take a look at how the three centers listen differently.

The Head listens for information. Facts and logic are important parts of the puzzle. Questions these Types may ask include: Give me the background on it? What’s the strategy? Where’s the problem? Where are we going? How will we get there?

The Heart listens for connection. Emotional Intelligence is key. What’s the emotional impact going to be? How’s so and so going to feel about it? How will our image be impacted? What will people say? These are a few questions Head Center Types may be looking to achieve clarity on.

The Body listens for concrete action and movement. No excuses here: What’s the deadline? Who is doing what? How will it happen? What’s everyone’s gut say about this? With these Types, the body is taking in the information needed to move forward.

It’s pretty clear that we are all listening for different input and that we might be missing the real message in a conversation if we don’t pay attention to all three centers. So, next time you are practicing your communication skills – listen up! Remember to listen with an ear to all three Centers of Intelligence – you’ll be smarter and a better leader for it.

By Mary Anne Wampler,