Let Intuition Be Your Guide: Secret Three

One of the primary reasons top leaders are able to make tough decisions is because they have learned to trust their intuitive instincts. Bill Gates says, “Often you have to rely on intuition.”

This is part three of my three-part series on the secrets of great management. Sometimes you’ll have to let intuition be your guide. Sure, you have a wealth of knowledge, but know how isn’t always enough. Risk takers who take calculated risks based on intuition often make the very best leaders of all.

Should I agree to participate in a conference? Is this the right person to hire? Should I pick that software or this software? Do I want to bid on a job? Should I retweet or not?

That is, quite intentionally, a diverse list of questions. But, they have at least two things in common: The answer may be “yes” or “no.” And, there will be pros and cons to either decision. Which way you answer any given query in any situation may not depend on an objective list of those pros and cons. Just as important is going to be how you feel. In the end, often you are going to have to “go with your gut” and let your intuition be your guide.

Making decisions, both large and small, is one of the biggest challenges for any person. And, learning to trust your instincts is one of the best tools for facing and overcoming the challenge of decision making. What Einstein is saying in this famous quote is that we’ve learned to rely on data and to make our instincts submit to this data. But, we need to lift ourselves out of the logical part of our heads and include the intuitive part of our minds and our hearts to be truly effective decision makers.

Recently one of my executive coaching clients was faced with a hiring decision. She had posted a job online and received hundreds of resumes. Candidate One was older, with lots of experience, a high salary demand and also, it was clear from the resume, some baggage. Candidate Two was fresh out of graduate school, was very articulate and creative, but had no practical experience, a thin resume and was cheap. The pros and cons of who to hire in this situation were complex. What to do? Clearly, more than a list was necessary in order to make the best decision.
When it was time to make a decision my coaching client analyzed the facts while listening to her gut. Her intuition led her to go with the experienced candidate who turned out to be a great fit her company.

Business is oftentimes, by necessity, cold and calculated. But, I never advocate leaving your emotions at the door. Emotions are part and parcel of who we are. That means that when we include our emotional instincts we are going to align ourselves more honestly and completely with the decisions that we make. We will be ‘all in’ so to speak. If our decision doesn’t fit our feelings, we will always have a nagging doubt that we could have done better or been happier. (By the way, these concepts apply not only for leadership, but also in our personal lives. Everyone knows that you can’t pick a partner by listing attributes. You have to feel in your soul that the person is right for you. That’s really the essence of a leadership decision that incorporates more than data.)

Decision making in today’s world is becoming increasingly complex. Where once you met your prospective business partners face-to-face, now often the only way you meet is online, sometimes only through written communication. I certainly believe and strongly advocate that if you are making decisions online, you try to set up a Facetime or WhatsApp call so that you can see and hear the person with whom you’re dealing. You will, from this online, yet personal, encounter (somewhat of an oxymoron) get a read on the other person. Then, when your instincts come into play you will have signals to rely on. If two companies are bidding on your business, you’ll get a feel (your instincts will tell you) whether cheaper is better or not. You may decide that the more expensive supplier is going to be more reliable or someone with whom you can better relate. You have to find your way around the technology to reach your personal best result.

It is important to distinguish between emotional impulsive decisions and intuitive decisions. I have one leadership coaching client who is exceptionally intuitive. She basically does a calculation in her head of the pros and cons of any situation and reaches a conclusion that she sticks with. She’s not even aware that she’s done the fact-based mathematical part of the equation because her art-based intuition is so strong. But, she is, in fact, balancing the facts completely with what she believes is best. It is a sense of right and wrong that is situationally based. To those who don’t know her, she seems flighty or thoughtless, some say impulsive. But, it’s not that at all. She just “gets in” all at once. If you ask her questions about whether she considered something or not, she doesn’t respond in a defensive way at all, but can articulate exactly how she reached what seems to be a decision reached without deliberation. Actually, she’s just able to think on her feet and trusts her heart and mind to coincide. A magical combination that is super effective for her.

So, bottom-line, trust ALL of yourself. Don’t be afraid. Integrate your mind (the facts), and your heart (intuition). Here’s a wonderful motto to guide you as you apply secret three to your leadership arsenal: “He or She Who Dares Wins!” Now, go for it!

So, trust ALL of yourself. Don’t be afraid. Integrate your mind (the facts), and your heart (intuition). Here’s a wonderful motto to guide you as you apply secret three to your leadership arsenal: “He or She Who Dares Wins!” Now, go for it!