Why Intuition Is Important For Great Leadership

Want to be an intuitive leader? Don’t be afraid to do a variety of jobs, expose yourself to every kind of experience, meet a variety of people, engage in interesting conversations.

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We all make many decisions in our routine lives, both in the personal and professional spheres, albeit many of those routine decisions are subconscious However, even if we exclude those mundane decisions, we still take many important decisions on a regular basis in our lives. Especially, as one embraces leadership roles, the frequency of taking decisions that have a long-term and wider impact, increases. Your decisions shape businesses, influence market forces, and may even have an impact much larger than you have envisioned during the time of making the decision. While every leader figures their own methods of decision making and there is no right to wrong technique to it, I have seen that the intuition-driven approach is as effective, if not more when it comes to taking big, complicated decisions. 

Decisions can be made with help of rational methods like data, statistics, algorithms, and facts. You can base your decisions on well-calculated, and well-articulated information derived from proper research and analysis. While this fact-driven, data-derived, decision-making may sound like an ideal approach, the reality is slightly different. Most leaders don’t rely purely on these apparent unerring methods. Great leaders often rely on their ‘intuition’ while making important decisions. Contrary to the general perception intuition plays a crucial role for many in the corporate world. However, the word intuition has a much deeper meaning than the normally accepted notions like a gut feeling, sixth sense, foresight, or premonition. Intuition is an accumulation of our experiences, knowledge, of various fragments of information gathered over the years; it is a total of all our acquired information. It is the facility to connect the dots, draw parallels and comparisons, and the ability to look through the chaos, all with lightning speed. It’s the connections your brain makes at hyper speed, analysing scenarios as an outcome of your decision and deliver you an alternative that feels right!

The nature of rational decision-making is sequential, which is led by a step-by-step analysis; on the contrary intuitive decision-making is more free-flowing and fluid in nature. While rational or sequential methods, do provide leaders meaningful insights but these methods have their own limitations.  For example, not everything can be clearly measured and put into the form of numbers, additionally, decisions based on poor-quality data or incomplete data will lead you to dead ends. A good leader understands that data, facts, and statistics do not exist in an absolute vacuum, they know that they have to connect the information with ongoing trends and how those trends may shape the future. Our world has always been a dynamic place, but today the pace of change is exponential and the world has become ever more complex; at times you might not have enough data and supporting evidence while making a decision. Remember, gathering information, quality data, and facts, do require time and resources, many times you might not have the luxury of time before taking a decision. Leaders often have to make high-stake decisions under great uncertainty, in difficult and unique situations; in such circumstances, you have to rely on your intuition, to reach conclusion swiftly. As a common observation for example, empathetic leaders tend to read situations better and understand, how decisions will impact people. This to my mind is crucial because organisations are a part of society and run, for people by people.

An intuitive mindset is about understanding the ambiguities and complexities of the world. It also means reading between the lines, above, under and even beyond the lines. Many a times it’s about reading the bigger picture, the birds eye view. It is about being aware of your industry, economy, socio-political developments, new technologies, and upcoming tools.  An intuitive leader develops the ability to take multiple factors into account while making a decision. Highly intuitive leaders have the ability to transfer the knowledge acquired in one sphere to another, almost lucidly. This tendency to transfer knowledge and analyse the situation from a vantage point enables them to make a wholesome decision, which benefits the business. Intuition is even more important for business leaders because, you as a leader best know the vision and goal of your business, which is unique to your organization and you can best judge how to realize those goals, even if it implies breaking away from the established norms. It helps you conceptualize unique products and solutions, and gives the freedom to innovate. Many business leaders who have introduced novel initiatives are known to rely on the beauty of their ideas and vision, which originates more from their intuitions. And such leaders have often lead the way, transformed the industries and changed the world for better. 

Want to be an intuitive leader? Don’t be afraid to do a variety of jobs, expose yourself to every kind of experience, meet a variety of people, engage in interesting conversations! Towards the end, I will say do rely on evidence, logic, and data while deciding, but don’t let them completely overpower the intuitive voice in your head. Your brain is an amazing tool, give it enough and it will connect the dots for you, provided your heart is in the right place. Intuition is the breeding ground for creative liberty, innovation and novel ideas. It often helps you where cold, logical patterns might fail.