The intuitive leader

Intuition: The ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.

What do you trust when it comes to making big decisions? Instincts and ‘hunches’ may well have a comforting influence on the snap choices we make on a day-to-day basis, but when it comes to matters of greater complexity, intuition doesn’t often get a look in.

As a leader, you’re far more likely to rely on hard evidence and rational analysis to support your biggest and most important decisions. Recent insights and discoveries in the field of neuroscience, however, have given new importance and credibility to the role of intuition in leadership, especially when it comes to decision-making.

As a key development tool for the next generation of senior managers and leaders, intuitive intelligence is becoming increasingly highly rated within global corporations.

Trusting your instincts

Can you recall a situation within your business life where you had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right but you didn’t trust that instinct? Perhaps you’ve regretted ever since. Recognising your intuitive intelligence and using it within your working environment can be one of the most powerful leadership tools you have.

We may feel that intuition has little or no place within business – it’s one thing to act on instinct in our personal lives, but quite another to carry through on a gut feeling at work.

But there’s increasing evidence that intuition is more than merely a feeling. Many scientists now believe that it is, in fact, the result of our brains piecing together information and experiences to come to different, and less obvious, solutions and conclusions.

Emotional intelligence is being given greater credence within the sphere of leadership and organisational development. But it is perhaps intuitive intelligence that is the more powerful weapon in business decision-making. You need to dispel the myth that if you’re not a creative person, you won’t have a propensity to be an intuitive thinker. Encouragingly, we are starting to see experienced managers and leaders using their intuition as a starting point and then backing this up with facts and analysis. So the more you use your intuition as a tool, or as a learned skill, the more reliable it becomes.

Intuition as a trained skill

You can be trained to develop your intuitive intelligence, to learn to trust your intuition to address issues both large and small. This can be to create opportunities, to develop a plan, to solve pressing problems or to resolve dilemmas – the list is endless.

When you are training to sharpen your cognitive sensors, you are encouraged to use your intuition when making decisions. This is especially beneficial when you are making difficult choices which have far-reaching implications in your working life.

Going with the gut feeling, trusting your instincts – these can reveal aspects of a particular situation which reason alone cannot reach. The radar works perfectly but it is the operator which needs the training!

The best leaders have learned not only to just trust their instincts, but to act on them too. Obeying your instincts requires that you listen to your own internal voice, acknowledge that internal reference point, rather than rush to embrace the myriad references and voices of others.

As humans, we spend a lot of time in an internal dialogue with ourselves. Harnessing that self-talk, developing your instincts and trusting them as a tool to take your business and your leadership skills forward is integral to the leadership programmes we run at Leaders Lab.

In next week’s blog post, we’ll be looking more at the situations in business where we rely on intuitive intelligence and tips for developing greater trust in your instincts.