Harness the power of gut instincts
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."
The facts are great, and we need them, but sometimes it boils down to what we feel in our gut. Facts are the "math" of decision-making while intuition is the "art." Traditional business teaching tends to focus on the facts and numbers, but what about this important element of intuition?
Intuitive people are able to plunge right into a problem and gather facts, but they are also listening to their intuitive senses. People looking in from the outside might interpret these actions as impulsive or "flying by the seat of their pants," but in reality they are making quick decisions based on a lifetime of accumulated wisdom and understanding that their mind is processing -- just at a different level.
While some people seem to have a stronger sense of intuitive skills than others, I do believe that any leader can learn to be more intuitive. It is simply a matter of learning to trust your heart when it speaks to you.
Sometimes the first step toward trusting your heart is acknowledging and letting go of our absolute trust in logic. Roy Rowan said, "This feeling, this little whisper from deep inside your brain, may contain far more information -- both facts and impressions -- than you're likely to obtain from hours of analysis." Logic is important, but it isn't the sole determining factor for finding truth.
There is a certain element of risk in intuitive leadership, but that is the nature of leadership. I love the motto of the British Special Air Service: "Who Dares Wins!"
When we neglect our intuition, we are sometimes just playing it safe and secure, and I can't think of very many things of value that are won by doing that. The reason bold leaders win is because they take risks -- often leading by a strong sense of intuition.
While acting on your intuition is a leadership advantage, it can also be a weakness. You'll gain the trust of others when your intuitions lead to good decisions, but you'll forfeit trust when you fail if you have ignored the wise advice of those around you. There is a balance that comes from experience. Robert Heller said, "Never ignore a great feeling, but never believe that it's enough."
In growing my organization, I've tried to pay attention to how I make decisions and what has been successful. Here is a process I've developed for tapping into my intuitive instincts:
1. Write down the issue at hand. Don't just think about it -- put it on paper.
2. Identify as many options as possible. Make a list of all options open to you.
3. Pull away from the process. This gives you time to reflect upon the situation.
4. Start playing out the consequences of your options in your mind. Eliminate them one by one. If you see how one situation would take you down the wrong road, get rid of it.
5. When you get to a final list of options, bounce them off of wise people both inside and outside your organization. Let them tell you the pros and cons of each one.
6. Check your heart. Look at:
Motive. "Why am I doing this?" Sometimes we find that we are doing something for the wrong reasons and that may lead us in the wrong direction.
Responsibility. "Should I be doing this?" As leaders who desire the best for everyone, we need to ask ourselves if this is the responsible choice to make.
Emotional status. "Can I feel right about doing this?" There is a lot to be said for being able to sleep at night.
7. Make a decision. When you have done the above, pull the trigger on your decision. Make it quickly and get moving on the plan.
8. Hold to that decision. Don't waver. The work has been done. The questions have been asked. Now is the time to execute the plan, not question the decision.
While no leader ever reaches perfection when it comes to decision-making, leaders who strive to obtain all the facts possible, who trust the intuition of his or her team members, and who cultivate and trust their own intuitive instincts will have a batting average good enough for the Hall of Fame!
A device that lead your way to understanding your intuition and tap into it: Intuition Pro