Feb 102015

How Can You Use Your Three Brains to Lead?

In a previous article series about the Enneagram (February – October 2013) I wrote about the nine Enneagram personalities. Each type functions in one of the three basic components of the human psyche: instinct, feeling, or thinking.  No matter what type of personality we are, our personality contains the three components. All three interact with each other, and we cannot work on one without affecting the others.

In their book The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson remind us that in Enneagram theory, these three functions are related to Centers in the human body, and the personality fixation is associated primarily in one of these centers. Types Eight, Nine, and One comprise the Instinctive (Gut) Triad; types Two, Three, and Four comprise the Feeling (Heart) Triad; and types Five, Six, and Seven are in the Thinking (Head) Triad.

Which of the three types, or which of the three brains, do you use to lead?

There was an excellent article by Vikki Brock, EMBA, PCD, MCC in Choice magazine Volume 12 Number 4, pages 33-35 titled The Triad, How are our three brains impacted by coaching. Following are key concepts excerpted from her article.

“Scientific research has shown we have three brains – the one in our head, the one in our heart, and the one in our gut. These three brains have control over the decisions we make. Aristotle, in his masterpiece Rhetoric, defines three ways to persuade an audience: Logos (an appeal to logic or head brain), pathos (an appeal to emotion or heart brain), and ethos (credibility of the speaker or gut brain).

In the Wizard of Oz, three main characters in the book were the Scarecrow, who was looking for a brain; the Tin Woodsman who wanted a heart; and the Cowardly Lion who wanted courage – or head, heart, and guts. This same triad is apparent when we reflect on what people say: trust your gut…listen to your heart…use your head.

Each brain has core competencies. When we use the Gut Brain we rely on our gut often for quick decision-making; that fight or flight response. When using the Heart Brain, we use it mostly for processing emotions (joy, anger, hate, love, empathy). It helps you discover what is important to you in life. And the Head Brain is primarily used to reason, to analyze and to synthesize information. Alignment of these three brains creates a “flow” state where each brain is functioning at its efficient best.”

“When an individual makes a decision or responds to a situation from only one brain and ignores the others, it affects his or her decision-making. If they use the Gut Brain, they will likely be reactive, impulsive, and action oriented. This can be useful when safety or survival is threatened. If they use the Heart Brain, they will be concerned about self-image, impact on others, and lives of others. When the Head Brain is used, they plan and prepare and focus on what could go wrong.”

“If you over rely on one or two of your brains, practice and integrate trusting your gut, listening to your heart, and using your head.”

“When you are faced with making a decision or responding to a situation from one brain and ignoring the others, ask yourself the following questions: What does your gut tell you? What does your heart feel? What does your head say?”

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