How Three Centres of Intelligence Create the Leaders we Need in Our Workplaces with Sharon K. Ball


In this insightful conversation, we dive deep into the world of trauma-informed care and leadership with our special guest, Sharon K. Ball.

Sharon shares how she started integrating the enneagram into trauma-informed care, shedding light on the powerful intersection of these two practices. Discover the nuances of trauma and what it truly means (and doesn’t mean) as our discussion unfolds.

Leaders, this one’s for you! Learn how you can appreciate your nervous system as a tool for effective leadership and discover the concept of co-regulation. We explore whether our nervous systems fluctuate between states of “safety” and “unsafe” and discuss the importance of training from a trauma-informed lens first, equipping leaders with invaluable insights.

Sharon K. Ball

Sharon K. Ball is a highly experienced licensed professional counselor with over 25 years in trauma-informed care. She holds multiple certifications in therapies like EMDR, TIC, ACT, CBT, DBT, and TBRI, and she completed Yale’s School of Management program on diversity and inclusion. Sharon founded 9Paths, a counseling center that offers trauma-informed therapy and supervises counselors for licensure. She’s been a mental health first responder during international disasters and serves as a family court parent coordinator.


Stay tuned for an exploration of the 3 M’s and practical advice on not getting hung up on the details of your team members’ trauma. Find out why trauma-informed leadership is a crucial topic in today’s world and how the enneagram can be a key tool for understanding your team better.

Delve into what ‘safety’ means for each center in the body and hear a personal story from Sharon about a challenging moment of self-discovery.

And, of course, we get to know Sharon on a more personal level as she shares her favorite song and genre of music, wrapping up this episode with a touch of fun.

Sharon consults with Nashville homeless shelters, anti-human trafficking organizations, and Fortune 100 companies on workplace psychological safety, inclusion, and belonging. She’s an active member of the Enneagram in Business Network and partners with the Urban League of Middle Tennessee, driven by her belief in the unifying power of recognizing and resolving trauma.

Join us for this enlightening conversation that explores trauma, leadership, and the enneagram in a way you’ve never heard before.

We talk about:

  • [5:30] How she started integrating the enneagram into trauma informed care

  • [8:00] What does trauma mean or not mean

  • [11:15] How leaders can appreciate their nervous system as a leadership tool

  • [14:40] What is co-regulation

  • [16:50] Does our nervous system fluctuate between “safe” and “unsafe”?

  • [19:40] Training from trauma informed lens first and how leaders can learn from it

  • [23:25] The 3 M’s

  • [27:55] How to not get hung up on the details of your team member’s trauma

  • [33:45] Why we need to talk about trauma informed leadership

  • [35:25] How the enneagram can help leaders understand more about their team

  • [37:40] What ‘safety’ looks like for each center in the body

  • [41:10] A time she learned something hard about herself

  • [42:35] Ways in which she regulates her own nervous system

Show More Show Less

Carolyn: sharon K. Ball is a licensed professional counselor, a National Board Certified Counselor, and International Enneagram Association Accredited Practitioner and Trainer. She brings more than 25 years of experience in therapeutic trauma informed care, and maintains her certifications in EMDR, TIC, and ENT.

ACT, CBT, DBT, and TBRI. Sharon is passionate about solving all forms of complex human problems and works alongside Fortune 100 companies to curate programs that train in workplace psychological safety, inclusion, and belonging. She is a senior member of the Enneagram in Business Network and a business partner in the Urban League of Middle Tennessee.

In my conversation with Sharon, we are going to explore leadership through the lens of being trauma informed and how the Enneagram system gives us a really interesting opening to see our body and specifically our nervous system as a leadership tool. I hope that you enjoy this conversation and at the end have gained some insight into what it means to be trauma informed.

Both Sharon and I believe that we can feel united and connected as a world. If we can recognize resolve and I would say honor our traumatic experiences individually and collectively. At the end of the day, being trauma informed is really about creating safety and our nervous systems are a very, very big tool that will help us do that.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

 Welcome, evolve listeners. I am really, really excited today. I mean, I’m excited for all my podcast guests, that, because that, come on. ’cause I think there’s so much wonderful insight they can share today though, I have to say I’m getting to meet somebody, and bring her onto the show.

Who was a really big inspiration for me. So welcome Sharon Ball, Sharon K. Ball, welcome to the show. 

Sharon: Thank you. I am excited to be here, 

Carolyn: Carolyn. Yeah. You know, it was probably about a year ago, about this time when I heard you speak and you were talking about your book at the time it was yet to be released, You.

And I remember sitting in a parking lot, listening to this because I’d gone out to lunch with somebody and listening to you and your coauthor Renee. And I felt like, Oh, my gosh, I found my people. I have found somebody. I found people before me who are seeing. Things the way I see them. So I just wanted to start off by saying thank you to you and Renee for putting this work together in in reclaiming you.

it met me at an amazing time and it really, really gave me the confidence and conviction to move forward with my writing and and my pursuit of trauma informed 

Sharon: leadership. You know, that’s always I know you can resonate with this. 1 of the best things a person can hear, especially, for me, as a writer, just knowing it has an impact and you think that the impact is just what you can see, like, right in front of you.

So it’s 1 of the greatest compliments is to know that it’s gone beyond what I could see. You know, Renee would say the same thing because it then gave you a little more wind, to complete your book on trauma informed leadership. And it is necessary to necessary. We had, we address and we, we lay out there some of these, ways in which people can lead better and, live 

Carolyn: better.

Yeah. And so, and, and so that’s, that’s going to be the topic of our conversation today. which is really, how can we understand the power of trauma informed leadership? So that we can receive it, as an opportunity and, welcome it as a way to grow and make our workplaces better versus the resistance of like, oh, my gosh, that’s heavy and deep.

And I want to like, stay away from it. Now, that is, so that’s my hope. one of the things that, that I loved about your book was it integrated the perspective of the Enneagram and, you know, in, in my book, and, and this has had a huge influence on my life personally, but what I found is talking about the centers of intelligence.

Allows the concept of the Enneagram to stay, I found at a place that’s a little bit more manageable and I thought there was a terrific connection into understanding the power of our body. So I guess the first question I want to start off with was what inspired you and Renee to bring this book and integrate the world of trauma informed care, because I know your health care professional and in your state,With the world of, the Enneagram. Well, how did that all come about? 

Sharon: I think individually we have gone through our own traumatic experiences and, have found the Enneagram being extremely helpful in processing our trauma, understanding it. And then we also have this backdrop of, we go to work every day, working with people who have experienced trauma or are recovering from trauma.

And using the Enneagram again, to help find a common language for people to understand where they’re at. And so separately, but simultaneously, Renee and I were doing our work and we met at 1 of, at a training gender Lapid bug does training. San Francisco. And I was still ironically at the peak of, of one of my traumatic experiences.

And, she caught me Renee did. And she said, you know, I, I know you’re a therapist and you know this, but I’ve been, cause I, I was asked to talk and I, it kind of brought up some stuff for me. Yep. That I think you’re, I think you’re still going through trauma. Oh, wow. So we linked up and, began to process what that looks like.

and, and, and over the course of years, 6 to 7 years, really found that, yes, The work of the Enneagram is very impactful to, trauma recovery. However, I will say we, we both lead with being trauma informed first, right. And teaching our clients about trauma first, before we move into the Enneagram work.

Okay. And I think, you know, from your experience, you can understand why that’s so valuable, because the body and the brain hijack. when you’re, when you’re going through trauma, you’re hijacked. And so for me, it’s like, you can’t really work with psychology until the biology and physiology are in a baseline zone.

Carolyn: Oh, I love the way you’ve said that. yeah, because, because biology wins a friend of mine. We always say biology is always going to win. so can we just to level set, just, you know, cause I know on, on, on, on this podcast, I do talk about trauma and, and just in case some people haven’t heard us define that, could you define for the audience, what does trauma mean and what does it not mean in some really simple terms?

Sharon: Sure. So in my experience, trauma is what happens to all of you. It’s an experience in your body. It’s experienced in your brain, first and foremost in the body and the brain. I mean, all of it. It’s that experience that just kind of smacks you and typically it’s when you’re, Under threat or a perceived threat, perceived threat of safety, security, certainty, and on a continuum, you know, so when we talk about childhood trauma, where there’s emotional verbal abuse, some might say that’s not traumatic because there’s not a sense of, you know, to their safety.

Well, there is because. They’re little people, and they don’t know how to process all that’s being thrown at them. or for that matter, you know, an adult and an emotionally abusive relationship, it still is a threat to them. So that can be traumatic. Right? so it’s what happens inside you and how the body responds to it 

Carolyn: and not not an event per se, because I grew up believing trauma was an event.

Yeah, and you suck it up, you know. 

Sharon: Move on. No, I think we’ve learned a lot, Carolyn, since that. And I know where you’re coming from with that. It can be an event that’s acute in nature. It’s, you know, a one time event, like a natural disaster, but more often than not, what we are learning and we’re learning it from a physiological neuroscience standpoint is that it can be a course of events or a situation that’s just chronic.

It never. goes away. or it’s episodic. It comes and it goes. So let’s say you’re a child and you’re experiencing two parent homes and one parent is home is stable. The other parent’s home is not, but it’s episodic. You go back and forth. That still can be traumatic to that child. 

Carolyn: Yeah. And so here’s, Here’s what I believe and what, why the Enneagram to me was a real pathway to unlocking a whole lot of things was this notion of a center of intelligence.

Now, I think, you know, and I’ll come back to the workplace, you know, our head obviously is really a prized possession in the workplace. We need to think we need to analyze, certainly in the last 20 years, Daniel Goleman and lots of great work and Susan David, emotional intelligence, emotional agility.

So there’s a lot of space for, you know, head and heart. What really opened the door for me was this notion of our body and recognizing that it’s our nervous system that helps regulate our body and. If our nervous systems are dysregulated, or let’s just say not operating at an optimal pace, we might be like over overachieving or overworking, or we might be underworking that will impact how our centers of intelligence can work together, which is going to impact how we show up, which is going to impact our authenticity and so on and so forth.

Yes. So this notion of trauma being in our body was an eye opener for me. So Sharon, can you explain, like how, how could we help more leaders appreciate our nervous system as a leadership tool?


Sharon: So I have built on Amy Edmondson’s research on workplace psychological safety.

Right. But I know in. Organizations is that they, they’re fueled off of data. You know, they want data to show why something is important. It’s got to impact the bottom line. So when I speak with leaders on why it’s so important to be trauma informed, I show them the research that she already has done place psychological safety.

If people are not coming in, feeling safe, or if leaders do not understand that when someone walks in their door, there’s still another life that they’re bringing into that room into the workplace and that other life could have, like, say, for instance, Hurricane Ida down in on the Gulf Coast, you know, there are still.

Still, people not in their homes and going to work and working out of a long term rental situation, right? And their workplace. Well, the leader needs to know that because that is a significant trauma in that person’s life. And that will help the leader understand maybe why productivity might go down.

Or they’re overproductive or their mood has shifted. and, you know, we know that when, when, when there’s turnover, it costs. Organizations money. Yep. So it’s better for the leader to understand being trauma informed to keep that worker there. Yep. then to lose the worker because, you know, the worker is going to come back, you know, they’re going to come full circle.

They’re going to move through their trauma. They’re going to. They’re going to find the resilience. It’s just, can the organization stay with it? And I believe if leaders are trauma informed, then the organization can walk beside. And I, I’ve been working with, I’m going to do a shout out to one of my companies, Dow chemical.

They have been one of the best organizations for me to see how they. Walk beside people. There are, they are trauma-informed leadership, on multiple LE levels. so when hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, They go in and they help their leaders and their leaders help their employees, they, it’s, it’s a concept that I think is new, but it’s so important if it’s workplace psychological safety, it does.

So, you know, if you have a dysregulated employee come in and your. You as a leader understand, wow, they’ve been going through a lot. You can actually co regulate and we’ll get into some of that, you know, help them regulate and you’re still going to get good work from them. Yeah, but if you view them from a perspective of, I don’t know how to handle this employee, you know, their moods are off or whatnot.

You’re not co regulating. You’re not coming alongside them and helping them get back on their feet again, when. You know, as you, you’ve walked through your own trauma recovery, sometimes all you need is just a little bit of help. Right. And right. A little 

Carolyn: bit of compassion. Exactly. Exactly. How would you define co regulation to an audience, a corporate audience who, you know, don’t have the medical background that you have.

Sharon: I think in the best way that I can define it is what I do in my chair when I meet with clients and that’s, mirroring back. We’re in this together and you might be elevated here. Like, you might be frustrated and, angry or, or disappointed and I’m going to meet you there, but I’m going to still stay very regulated.

I’m going to create, a safe space for you, to share your feelings and yet I’m not going to lose my sense of stability, right? So I, I lead and it’s like, until you can believe you can get back on your feet again, you can borrow my faith because I’m going to believe in you. And you know what? Yeah. You were a great employee before you went through that divorce before you, your house got torn down by a tornado or a hurricane.

You were fantastic. I believe you can get back there again. Right. Right. And I’m, I’m gonna, I’m going to meet you where you’re at and, and still have those expectations of good work. Right. but not get into, judgment or evaluation, but send the empathy out, you know, create the space, for that person to just, you know, when people are going through trauma recovery, they also don’t want to be seen as they can’t do good work, right?

Right. So leaders can be so effective and still reminding that person, Hey. You’re still here. You still do good work. And I know your life is in shambles right now, but we can still count on you. 

Carolyn: And so, so this notion of co regulation, you know, Deb Dana’s work really influenced me when I was putting together my, my model.

Cause co regulation is to me, one of the elements of an evolved leader and recognizing that our nervous systems, whether we realize it or not, are always talking to each other, saying safe, not safe, safe, not safe. And, and Sharon, is it like, is it really that binary or is our nervous system really working that, to that level of.

Of like, I guess, binary 

Sharon: evaluation.

That is a great question. I think it’s constantly on. I think your nervous system is surveying, it’s gathering data. And, you know, when we get into the Enneagram types, there are more types that want more data and gather more information. And there are types that, that want other types of information, right?

But I think what’s core to all human beings is recognizing there’s this nervous system that is so key to keeping us safe. Secure and certain and, and that communicates to the brain and tells the brain what to do and they go back and forth between each other. And if we dismiss that in leadership, we’re not getting a good picture of how to effectively lead our people.

I think this is for me, if I were a leader in a big organization, this would be like. gold nuggets to transform culture. If I understood there’s this behind the scenes, you know, system that works within all of our people and we feed off of each other, you know, so if my, if I take, you know, in my sessions and I’m starting to elevate my anxiety because somebody is telling me something that person’s anxiety is going to do the exact same thing.

Exactly. Exactly. So I’ve got to bring it back down. Well, as a leader, wow, that’s like a secret weapon to me. Yeah, I can, if I can be trauma informed and I can learn how to deescalate my own nervous system and reengage my frontal cortex, my, you know, thinking part of my brain because. Because when somebody is dysregulated, all of us will go to, Oh, no, right.

Yeah, but, but wow, we can actually regulate them by regulating ourselves. Exactly. 

Carolyn: Exactly. And, I mean, I love all the science y stuff that we could go, but essentially, you know, what is a good reminder for those listening is that when we are in an emotionally distressing state, Yes. Our ability to use this prefrontal cortex, the thinking part of our brain, it’s impossible to access and so you can’t push through it.

You can’t work your way through it. And, and this is the beauty of our body again, as a center of intelligence. so I want to come back to another comment you said earlier. So many things you said at the beginning that I want to, I want to make sure that we, chat about. So I know that you, you teach with the Enneagram.

your book is about, using the Enneagram to move from trauma to resilience. you had mentioned that you train from a trauma informed lens first before you talk about the Enneagram. So can you just expand, a little about like what that means and, and what we as corporate leaders could learn from that approach that you take?

Sharon: So for me, it’s important, because when someone is going through trauma or in the recovery of trauma, especially in the initial recognition phases, you know, where they’re real, it’s settling in. Oh, wow. I’m no longer in shock. I, I get the reality of what’s happened to me. It is very, it is just invaluable to just go to somatic work and help that person regulate self care, and get into a routine of knowing how their bodies responding to the threats around them perceived or real threats, because oftentimes there’s no real threat anymore. You know, it’s a perception and we can, we can look at that.

Even with our littles here in Nashville, you know, I live in Nashville and the covenant school shooting we had, several months ago, you know, for those littles to go back to school, there’s a perceived threat there and you can’t convince them their brain is not going to believe you that there’s not a threat there because their body experienced that threat, right?

Well, that doesn’t just happen with the little people. It happens with us as adults. So, you know, when we’re looking at that, that to me is a trauma informed, you know, movement towards addressing, bringing somebody into more whole place through recovery and integration. With the enneagram first, I’m missing, I’m missing the biology of what goes on.

Now we could use the centers of intelligence and do it that way. I’m still starting somatically. Yes. Yes. Saying the portal to beginning healing is through the body. Right. So, you know, whatever you want, you would stay for me. I would encourage clinicians to stay in the body center for a relatively long time until that person is regulated.

Right. To move into, you know, other aspects of trauma recovery. Yep. so it, you know, it’s how you want to splice it, but for me, it’s just making sure people understand, you can misunderstand someone who’s recovering from trauma. If you move with just their type and their behavior, because I guarantee you.

If we lined up nine different people who’ve been through the exact same trauma and they’re all nine different types, they’re going to have same behave. They’re going to have similar behaviors. Yeah. And you might think they’re all this 

Carolyn: type or yep. Yeah. And, and this is why, I, I mean, I love the Enneagram work and I use it with all my clients to help them deepen an understanding of themselves, their reactivity patterns.

I have found coming at it through the centers of intelligence, and you’ve put words around it. I didn’t really understand it as a trauma informed approach, but it’s really that like, that’s what it is. And I was speaking to a client recently talking about how to access the body. And and sort of pull it of their center of dominance by going into another center and what they realize this is where I brought in your 3 M’s, which I’d love to get to in a moment.

that this notion of movement. Allows them to then move into their heart center and we made this connection. that was like, oh, wow. Okay. It’s not it’s not about getting stuck necessarily in my type or even my subtype. So, can you talk a little bit? I know I sort of said a few things there, but 1 of the parts of your book, just 1, because I love many aspects of it.

you talked about the 3 M’s. And so can you share with us what, what that was and what it was, how, why you created it. 

Sharon: So, when Renee and I were kind of going through, how do we describe, this, the importance of the body, this, the, without saying the body center types are more important than the other, you know, 2 centers.

That’s not what this is about. Yeah. It’s about finding a portal that works with, Okay. Being trauma informed, right? Works with already what’s research based and the data we have behind us, which is about the body and how much the body, kind of defines the traumatic experience for you based on what it’s receiving, right?

Have to go through the body. So movement, what we have found in, in our, Offices and with, with our clients is movement is that portal and it doesn’t have to be like a rigorous working out movement type that get moving. And I think that does is that gets the body into some, some, Just even a little bit, just shifts it up a little bit. You can go with the three M’s we’ve got, you know, movement, meaningful relations, and mindfulness from that point. I think you can go anywhere with it based on your type or not your type. Right. I mean, just because you got your body moving and the trauma is like moving, it’s not lodged.

It’s not stuck anymore. It doesn’t mean you have to go straight to connections. Right. Then over to mindfulness, the concept is just to use them as a resource. If you feel stuck with trauma, we know it traps people. It wants you to believe that you are going to stay here and this is how it’s always going to be.

If we can get in through the body, then we might open up some connections with people. And we know meaningful connections, co regulations. There it’s powerful for recovery, moving into the heart and feeling powerful for recovery. And then you’ve got your mindfulness practices, you know, the things that still you, the things that calm you,understanding the why and the how behind all of that, that I think comes at a later time for me when I watch people, work through their recovery, the understanding of it.

Comes at a later date than the body, you know, well, and 

Carolyn: would that have to do because like, if we just kind of go through the general structure of the brain, right. That unconscious, that oldest part of our brain is, is like, is, is our body center, right? Like the brainstem and then our limbic system heart center is like sort of the middle part of our brain.

So to me, it makes sense when you say, when you say that, that, that rational, trying to make sense of all this. It’s sort of the last piece in the healing 

Sharon: process. It is the making sense part, but I will tell you the body will be the very last to believe that you’re in a safe space. So your mind might be saying, Hey, you know, I, I’m going to go to school today and, and I am safe because they’ve got a resource officer there.

My mom tells me my this, this, that, but until that body really believes they are safe, then they’re not safe. And I think that’s because that’s the power of the body and response to a threat or, Something that has been harmful to it and to want it to be that way. And at the same time, you want it to work together with the mind and with the heart, because that’s the integration, you know, that unit to, Hey, you are safe.

You are okay. 

Carolyn: That’s a good point. It’s like, it’s like a loop, right? It’s like, it’s like a loop. So if I am a corporate leader, meaning, you know, I have a desk job, be that wherever that location is that I’m, I’m working and doing my, my work, What is it? Because obviously we don’t, we don’t need to know about people’s trauma.

I mean, we’re not there to solve it. Like, you know, obviously you are a clinically trained therapist, you are going to treat it differently. You are, you know, trauma, you support it in a much different way. What. What could leaders do to not get hung up on the details of trauma, and instead just approach leadership with this type of lens?

What’s a really simple way you could explain that to 

Sharon: the folks? 

Yeah, well, you can’t get around trauma. So any leader, they’ve got to understand that any employee they encounter, there’s some form of trauma that has happened to them or to a family member. So it’s everywhere. So I use that as information, be informed as a leader.

This is another variable that walks into your organization. Yeah, that you have no control over that might influence your culture. So, and if you’ve got 100 people walking into your organization, guarantee you someone or someone in their family is going through trauma. And so what’s going to come in if they’re not working through it is reactivity.

And now we can be reactive and not be in trauma. We’re just tired, fatigued, whatnot, and leaders understand that. But then there’s a whole nother concept of reactivity when you are recovering or going through trauma, and you just need to be aware of that, that sometimes what they see is the reactivity that is.

From a trauma experience, and they, they’re just reacting, you know, what can you give us 

Carolyn: an example of what that might look like? 

Sharon: So, down on the Gulf coast, you know, when you’ve got employees, hundreds of them, whose houses have been demolished. And you, you don’t recognize that as a leader that they’re bringing in.

You know, not only just tired and fatigued, but their, their house has been wiped out. Yep. You can’t go hire 100 new employees because you’re going to lose money and you’re going to, so moving with empathy, which is our number one, you know, trait that leaders can have, if you want to be a fully empathetic leader, then you’ve got to understand being trauma informed.

Now that doesn’t mean. You treat everybody as if they’re going through trauma in my, my opinion, but prepared. You’re knowledgeable about the fact that someone you might be leading may be going through trauma, right? Just that bit of knowledge might help you be a better leader to them. Yeah, it’s your responsibility as a leader to lead, not have somebody tell you what’s going on in their life.

So I don’t need to really know someone’s history to begin to recognize. Oh, wow. Yeah, I heard there was, you know, a flooding. The leader is saying they’re coming in kind of impatient and irritable. Okay, well, maybe if I guide the leader to understand some trauma informed information, they might be able to create a space at work.

Where that person can just let down their guard a little bit, right? 

Carolyn: Right. She has to regulate it. And this is where the calming presence, the calming yeah, the calmer nervous system can can help co regulate. Yeah. 

Sharon: Okay. I think Carolyn, it’s, it’s a win for all leaders to be informed. It doesn’t mean that you lead out of that paradigm every day for every employee.

Right. Right. Have it in your arsenal, have it in your toolbox. because it is a variable that’s going to happen to All leaders, I believe they’re going to encounter someone or several at the same time. Yeah. From trauma. Yeah. No, you, 

Carolyn: when we, met a few months ago to chat about perhaps, about coming on the podcast, you, you said something, that I, I wrote down, which is when people are in survival mode, they can’t think beyond their own survival.

They’re not going to show up and they don’t have the bandwidth. And so, when you think of the state of our workplaces today, and I’m, you know, I’m, I’m going to presume it’s relatively similar in the U. S. and Canada for the most part. How does that statement apply to the workplaces that we’re seeing today in our work?

Sharon: Well, I think it’s global. I don’t think there is a workplace that’s absent of a person that, is going through a difficult experience. And so having that bandwidth, you know, it is. It’s hard. And, and when you have people around you, a team that is supportive, a leader that is supportive, you’re going to, the bandwidth might be this small, but when they get to work, because they know they have support, it’s going to increase just a little bit.

because, you know, if they have gone through, and I keep coming back to natural disasters, because that is global, that can be that is global. When they go back home, they have the weight of whatever it is that they’re trying to rebuild. Right. And so oftentimes we’ll find people think feeling and thinking their place of work is a safer place.

It’s what they know. There’s a routine to it. There’s a structure, but you still have to understand they’re coming in with limited resources because The fatigue of recovering from a traumatic experience or trying to fight their way back to themselves is going to drain them. So it’s both. And, you know, for, and sometimes Carolyn, I’ve seen people be more productive at work because it is a safer space and going back home.

You know, and there’s a double bind to that too, you know, really is on 

Carolyn: that one. Yeah. Well, and, and I was going to ask you, you know, like this, this didn’t all just happen since the year 2020, right. This has been going on, right. Trauma is an emotional wound. It’s part of the human experience. I know you and I both subscribe to that, that mindset.

So what is different now? Why is it, is it okay? And why is, is now like, why is trauma informed leadership being talked about now? Why do we need to talk about it now? And not 10 years ago. 

Sharon: Well, there’s probably many reasons, but 1 that I’ve noticed is our research has caught up with us. You know, we’ve got better research behind it.

So when I take. Statistics and I back up what I’m saying, people will believe it a whole lot more than me just saying, Hey, here’s what I experience every day in my chair. Here’s common themes, the patterns we now have science that actually is showing what our, our nervous system is doing, what our brain, you know, brain scans can tell where, you know, PTSD has impacted a veteran, you know, so we’ve got a lot of research.

And I think we’re in a movement now where mental health does matter. And, you know, it’s, we’re still not where I want it to be, you know, where people are, it’s something we don’t shy away from. I think we’re better at talking about it, but if we were to be even better in the workplace, I think we’ll get more from our employees and our culture would change.

I think that would impact our culture. Yeah. Now 

Carolyn: I know, We’re not going to dig into all the types, the Enneagram types, because we’re going to wrap up our conversation shortly, but, You did talk about the fact that different, Enneagram types are going to look for different things. Yeah. and so certain types are going to look for more data, more insight before, I guess, before they’re inspired to change or before they can take something as true.

What advice would you give to leaders, around how the Enneagram can help them understand themselves, their own reactivity patterns. And extend it to their team dynamics. 

Sharon: One of the easiest ways for me, and I know you’ll love this answer because you’re on the centers of intelligence. you really don’t have to know a lot about each type to really give a gift to that type.

So by using the centers of intelligence. So if you know, someone’s in the body or the heart or the head center, you know, and all you have that day for yourself is to grant yourself. Your own compassion, you know, from, you know, whatever’s going on in your life and then you, you’re at work and you know that you’ve got, a two, a three or a four and they’re, they’re in the heart center and, you know, somehow meaningful connections matters to them.

you don’t have to dial it in to the very exact way of four needs it, or I don’t get that specific. I’m just. Just do your best with connecting with them or around the data or the information. If you’ve got a 6 or a 7 that values that information brings certainty and security to them, you know, the 5, you know, then then do a little more and how you deliver your information.

in the body center in a similar way, but different, you know, how do you need to show up for them with your presence, you know, or, or seeking their presence to show up, you know, so I would say, lean into the centers 1st, especially if you’re new to the Enneagram, because there’s so much you can give. Yeah, 

Carolyn: there is and and then we don’t get lost in the types or the subtypes as fascinating as that is, you know, people like, you and I would go there easily.

But that’s not like, from a cognitive load perspective, we can’t expect our leaders to go to that level. And so. Again, your work really, really inspired me to look at it through a practical lens. And so there was, there’s a piece I haven’t got it. So you’ve got it earmarked here. It’s got a little mark, where you talked about the different, centers and what.

Like, what a trauma response might look like, or interfere with, and that inspired me to talk to 1 of my Enneagram teachers, and I asked him, like, what, what are some, because I learned from you and I didn’t have your phone number yet. So I couldn’t call you. but 1 of the things

 I’m really proud of that I put into the book into my book was, what does safety look like?

For each of these centers and very similar to what you said, if that’s the only thing we can do to show up recognizing that, hey, body types, walk the talk, you better say what you say, or do what you say, you’re going to do head types, give them context, allow them to put those pieces together and body types, pay attention and, you know, give some space for some relational interaction.

that doesn’t sound too hard to do, does it? 

Sharon: It’s not that hard. And in doing that, in the repetition of doing that, you’re going to build trust back with that person, even though you may not have done the harm to the trust. But remember, the trust is what’s been broken with when safety and security and certainty are.

Wiped out. Right. Right. Right. So it doesn’t matter who you are. Their trust, the person who’s, recovering from trauma, it’s broken with everything around them. Yeah. So don’t take it personal, but yes, definitely be one of the people to help build it back. Yes. And in building it back, the person who’s recovering is it’s more important for them to find their trust in themselves again.

Yes. That repeated pattern of safety from the leader that you can give through all these different ways helps them find their way back home. And so to speak, you know, and it is key. Yeah. And for the three sisters, different. Reasons why, but it always comes back when there’s been a trauma to that safety, feeling safe for all of the types.

What did you just said? 

Carolyn: Three sisters? What are the three 

Sharon: sisters? I’m sorry. Three centers. 

Carolyn: Oh, centers. I was like, did I miss something? so Sharon, where, where can people find out more about your work? Where can they buy your book?


Sharon: So you can buy the book, Amazon, your local bookstore. it is, I would say, give yourself some time, you know, like bite off little chunks of it.

We have great stories in there that’ll help kind of make things come alive. But again, it’s heavy. It’s a book on trauma, but very rewarding. I think there’s something in there for all of us. and then you can find me at Sharon K ball. com. And I’m going to have some new online courses coming out in the fall that I’m excited about, some certification courses for people, an entry level course, just for all of us to be better informed.

as any grand mental health advocates, you know, we’re all called to advocate for, anyone going through trauma. And then a level one certification, which would be more for anyone who’s a coach, a therapist wanting to integrate it into their work. Oh, fantastic. You can find it. Yeah. Find me at my website and, hopefully we’ll get those all launched in the fall.

Carolyn: Oh, well, that’s fantastic. We’ll sign me up. I’ll be there taking, taking a few of them for sure. and so Sharon, for all the guests that come on, I end off with three questions. Are you ready for those? Yeah. Yeah. All right. So these are based around the three elements of an evolved leader, self, self awareness.

Self regulation and co regulation. So we’ll start off with the first one, which is self awareness. can you share a, with us a time where you learned something really important about yourself and maybe it was the hard way. 

Sharon: So I’m, I’m constantly learning those things. but I would say the times in which I’ve had the, the biggest ahas have been the times when I’ve gone through a loss and, um,

I know that logically I can read about it. I can hear about it. But until I’m in it and I get to the other side and I look back. I’m like, Oh, okay. That was so hard. And I gained so much awareness, understanding about who I am as a person and more importantly about my resilience. And it’s when looking back, things make sense to me.

So I, I have learned through traumatic experiences, challenges that if I get to the other side, there’s going to be something there that I’m going to learn. Be a better human for other people, for myself, and it will make sense somehow. 

Carolyn: Just, we don’t always know when we’re right in the middle of it, do we?

Yeah. No, we don’t. Yep. it reminds me too. There’s a quote by somebody saying something about suffering is, is such a great teacher. I don’t remember what the quote was, but. You just kind of, I think, summed it up there. so the 2nd question has to do with, self regulation and, and sort of any practices or things that you do to bring you into a state of, of regulation or calmness.

Sharon: So it’s counterintuitive to my type, because I’m type 3 and I really love being in the, on the move and have, over the course of my years, just. Done a lot of cardio and whatnot, but for me, probably in the last 10 years, when I really kind of buckled down and got to know myself through significant loss and whatnot, figured out that walking meditations really, did wonders for me and whether it’s listening to something that’s on repeat or not going with my, my Listening at all, but just checking in with what sounds I hear, what do I see, what do I feel, you know, going through the senses, just really grounding me, that helps calm my nervous system down and it can be a 15 minute walk or it could be a hike, but as long as I am just tuning into what’s going on with me and around me, that really helps.

Yeah, I’m 

Carolyn: with you. I don’t take my AirPods out, or AirPods, whatever, insert, whatever listening device. I don’t take them out with me anymore. And I’ve heard things. I’m like, I didn’t know that we had groups like that around here. Yeah, it’s been quite profound. and then last question, probably one of my favorite ones is what is a song or genre of music that makes you feel connected to something bigger than 

Sharon: yourself?

Yeah. So, you know, initially when I thought about this, I was like, well, of course, I love country music, Morgan Wallen, like big, because I’m right. Yeah. Opera, I think, or something along the lines of, like, I went to see Wicked in London a couple years ago, well, before the pandemic, and just the, how much breath and.

Control to belt out vocals. Like I was listening to just, it almost made me feel like I was back at the beach, looking at the ocean, how small it makes you feel, but then how in all you are of, I get to be a part of this. But I’m just like a drop in this big ocean and yet it’s, I’m here, you know, I’m here. I feel like that kind of music makes me go to that place of this is just powerful.

So, yeah, that’s, it’s kind of an extreme. I 

Carolyn: wouldn’t have guessed it. I wouldn’t have guessed that you saying that from Nashville, Tennessee. and I’ve never been to an opera. Well, you know what, maybe I’ll go see an opera in the fall. Maybe 

Sharon: it’s not opera. I’m trying to think of what that would be called.

Like I love the greatest showman, you know, that music I’ll, I’ll. I’ll have that. My kids will laugh at me because I’ll have that as loud as can be. And for some reason, it just like, there’s something in my body that gets, but 

Carolyn: I think there is something with opera though, too, right? Like I’m actually not joking.

I think I might go see an opera in the fall just to kind of play around with what you said there. There’s something very grand, 

Sharon: vibrant. Yeah. Yes. That 

Carolyn: belly energy, that gut energy or better yet. I’ll come to Nashville. We’ll find an opera there and then go listen to country music after. Yes. 

Sharon: Well, I know wicked.

I don’t think it’s opera music. They sing with wicked. I don’t think so. Yeah, but, they’re actually, that’s coming to town in the fall. So I’ve got to get some tickets just because the experience of just the loud music and yeah, yeah. 

Carolyn: Yeah, well, last time I was in Nashville, I went to the Ryman Auditorium and saw John Mellencamp.

So I’m always in for a trip to Nashville. So you never know. I might just show up one day and give you a call. You should. well, thank you so much, Sharon. I can’t tell you just again, what an inspiration you’ve been. I hope people do find their way to this resource if it makes sense for them. cause yeah, it’s really, it’s putting some great work out there that I think, People are workplaces.

I think just humanity is ready for. So thank you to you and Renee for, for doing that work and putting it out there. And thank you for coming on the show. 

Sharon: Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

Carolyn: I am sitting here reflecting on this conversation with Sharon and just realizing how different it is to lead today from even just three years ago before the year 2020 came upon us and even different than like 10 years ago or 20 years ago. The noise and the amount of disruption that is in our lives, it causes havoc with our nervous systems.

It It’s really hard to find focus. It’s really hard to stay present. And so I hope this conversation has given you more insight into how to allow your nervous system lead you instead of causing you to react to things. And I can’t stress enough how much a daily practice or daily practices can make a difference.

I still find, it. difficult to integrate into my day, but I do know when I find spaces of movement or mindful connection or mindfulness, it definitely makes my day a little bit easier and have a little bit more clarity. So I’m off to. close off the rings on my watch and find some movement time on my recumbent bike.

Thanks again for listening to the podcast and if you’ve enjoyed it, please like and subscribe. Also, if you’d like to learn more about trauma informed leadership, you can find my book. Evolve the Path to Trauma Informed Leadership in most major bookstores. Really happy to say it’s in some independent bookstores as well, and you can find it online.

Thanks for joining us.

EVOLVE Podcast Episodes

Lindsay Harle-Kadatz
Karin Hurt

Welcome to the Evolve community

Skip to content