Recently,  I was debriefing an Enneagram report with an old friend who’s as “seven” on the Enneagram as they come. If you are unfamiliar with this tool, it is a personality typing tool that’s been around for a long time.  It uses nine distinct “types” and helps people to understand themselves and why they do what they do better. “Sevens” are dubbed “The Enthusiast,” people who are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. And so, our conversation was wide-ranging and fluid, our words tripping over one another like a rocky river, skipping but still flowing, headed in a clear direction but winding towards its destination. We laughed a great deal, at ourselves and each other.

The insights and aha moments were instantly revealing. At one point, she stopped and said, “Wait, is that why you do that?” As we continued the debrief of her report, I emphasized how important it is for each of us to be seen and valued for our authentic selves. I explained how people like her are intuitive — they know, even without data, deep truths about people and institutions.

And then she got teary.

“That’s why I hate my job,” she said. “No one sees me!”

Recently, some of my co-workers asked me what is important to me — specifically, what I can’t live without — at work, and this conversation popped into my mind. I want to be seen at work and valued, viewed as competent and having limitless capacity and nary a vulnerability. Someone who gets everything done and then some. However, working at Henley Leadership Group has opened up something new. I want to really be seen, not just the parts of myself that I control; I want to be seen and valued as I really am. This is what I can’t live without at work:

I can’t live without a love of the work, without a common direction and purpose, something bigger than each of us, something outside of myself.

I can’t live without creative collaboration, humor, kindness (not niceness, but kindness), challenge, even a bit of disagreement, or as Adam Grant puts it, “a dance.”

I can’t live without some autonomy. Go try that and then share with us.

I can’t live without each of us making mistakes, owning them, and then figuring out the next steps together.

I can’t live without conversations about work that leak into conversations about our personal lives, then go back to work, then to the world, and back to, “Wait, why did I call you again?”

I can’t live without each person focusing on personal and professional growth.

I can’t live without curiosity, wonder, possibility, but also a checklist. I love a checklist.

I can’t live without people celebrating one another, maintaining a perspective on what’s important at work, and a workplace community.

I can’t live without being able to show up in my fullness.

Having lived without so many of these things in the past, I suppose I could live without them again, but I won’t.

What about you? What can’t you live without?

This article was crafted by Courtney Caldwell, a leadership development and Enneagram expert, as part of our Henley Leadership Writing Group. Each month, this group of thought leaders from our company connects to thoughtfully explore and write on topics crucial to our business and industry.


  • Dede Henley


    Henley Leadership Group

    I founded Henley Leadership Group 22 years ago to help leaders and organizations create more equitable and productive workplaces and ignite the nascent leadership potential of employees at all levels. Through individual coaching and programs designed to generate positive business results, Henley Leadership Group has served thousands of corporate leaders in a variety of industries, including healthcare, technology, energy and finance. Away from work, I live with my husband, and try not to meddle too much in the lives of my half-dozen kids.