What is your name?

Leslie Hershberger

Where were you born?

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Where do you live?

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

What do you do?

I am a combination of facilitator, guide and teacher. I pay attention to what’s unfolding whether I’m facilitating one-to-one spiritual work with people or working in a corporate retreat full of business people creating strategy. The more I do this work, the more I realize it’s rooted in a response to the needs of people who underneath it all, often want to be more fully human, wiser and connected in the workplace and their lives.

Lately, I’ve been working with employee engagement and with people in leadership positions. Leadership is an interesting role. It’s so vulnerable. It’s also both deeply personal and communal and often affects a wide range of people, communities and systems. It calls forth my background in the Enneagram, Integral studies, theology and education. A client recently joked that “You’re not ‘coachy’ and jaded by business and ‘leadership-speak.’” Yet, I find the emerging language and study of leadership to be quite supportive. It recognizes that a loss of connection to what some call Self and I call soul serves no one. Leaders need to know where they’re leading from internally and this must be grounded in a strong, sustaining intention. The Enneagram provides an unparalleled level of insight as long as people don’t become overly identified with type.

What is your role of the IEA Board?

Right now, I’ve signed on to help with marketing for the Conference. I helped the Narrative School get a social media presence up and running so I’ve some familiarity in this field.

Tell us a little about what you do on the Board.

I’m brand new to the board, so what I do is still emerging. At first, it was a lot of studying! Now that I’ve attended my first board meeting and experienced the Conference as a board member, I have a stronger sense of all the pieces of the IEA puzzle and how I can contribute.

Why are you involved with the IEA Board?

I’m a social subtype so it is natural for me to want to engage community. The Enneagram community is close to my heart as I see such significant transformation in people who work with it with a sustained quality of intention. I was very involved with the Narrative Tradition board for years and helped with social media, conference planning, writing and scholarships. I also want to connect and learn from people from the Enneagram community from different countries, life experience and schools.

What was your first experience of the Enneagram?

I learned of the Enneagram in 1998 when a friend told me it might help me understand my kids. So I went out and bought Helen Palmer’s “The Enneagram” and it shook me to the core. Synchronistically, a Tom Condon workshop was in town and I went and sat in a room full of 50 people and was exposed to Tom’s skillful teaching and demonstrations. In a short weekend, I felt as if my life had been cracked open. I went home and told my husband, “This is what I’m going to do with my life.”

Tell us a little about who you have trained with

Many of the schools have impacted me and initially, my training was through books and my own self-observation. The Wisdom of the Enneagram was my standard text in the early years, I liked the depth of Sandra Maitri’s work and I’ve also been a huge fan of Suzanne Zuercher whose take on the centers is unparalleled. She uses the functions approach which is both deep and practical.

After Tom’s training, I began to go to workshops in the Cincinnati area which is heavily influenced by the Narrative Tradition so I met Helen Palmer and was certified as a teacher with Helen and David Daniels through ESNT. I also certified as a coach with David and Terry Saracino. I’ve taken two of Ginger Lapid-Bogda’s trainings and helped as a support coach when she came to Cincinnati.

Perhaps my most sustained training is through my relationship and spiritual practice with friends and colleagues of the intentional Bergamo Learning Community which is a Narrative incubator of wisdom, compassion practice and somatic experiencing.  We meet twice a year for 4 1/2 days. Helen teaches, Terry and Marion Gilbert facilitate and a committed, courageous, mature group of people show up and practice. And of course, we dance!

What is your most useful/interesting/amusing/compelling use of the Enneagram?

I taught an online Enneagram course with Integral Life in Boulder which was a doorway to meet some really engaged people with whom I’ve done Skype work and I’ve taught in their cities. It helped me see that while the use of technology has its limits, there is a way to create a soulful learning space using this medium.

I eventually taught some of these students in Boulder when Helen, Terry, Renee Rosario and I taught a weekend together. Then last year, when a dear friend in our Bergamo community was living and dying with cancer, she created a unique online space where we were able to walk with her through the use of poetry, reflections, song, humor and love sent through email lists she’d created. Another member of our community archived them on a WordPress site. I’d never experienced anything like it. When David Daniels had open heart surgery, the outpouring was massive in the social media space his daughter created. This gives me hope that technology can be used as a force for compassion and community in the Enneagram world.

What do the words “Engagement”, “Education” and “Excellence” mean to you?

“Engagement” is participation, care, connection and comfort with discomfort. “Education” is discovery with a spirit of curiosity and wisdom. “Excellence” is a holding us to a standard where people can count on a level of practice and teaching from people who approach the Enneagram as a craft with the skill, competence and proficiency of a craftsman.

How do you see the future of the Enneagram?

I had a conversation with a friend in Holland about this. We’re seeing hints where there are enough skilled teacher/practitioners to create a strong enough field where the “WE” space is the new guru. It calls the community to a higher level accountability and inner practice.

How do you see the future of the IEA?

I like the direction we’re moving as relates to accreditation and base line standards. I especially like the idea for our next conference as it’s alive, organic and “on the ground” practical: Conversations that Transform.

A personal hope is that we take seriously the embodiment of 3 centered practice and cultivate an open mind, an open heart and open will. It’s hard work to hold ourselves to this standard, but if we’re to have validity in our respective fields, it’s crucial to apply these learnings in a way that attracts people to the wisdom of the Enneagram.

I’ve also been thinking of Otto Scharmer’s Theory U work as relates to the IEA. Theory U’s research on institutional change suggests in these times that effective organizations lead from an emerging future. This invites full participation and an awful lot of trust in the unknown along with a growing capacity to silence our wily willfulness and connect to the realm of deep presencing (presence and sensing).

Awareness of our Enneagram blind spots identifies how we stop attending to this emergence. It can be a challenge to do this with all of us flung all over the map so it takes a strong quality of intention. I’m curious to see what unfolds.