As a manager, do you use your intuitive thinking? Intuitive people aren’t afraid to use gut-feelings, but they’re keenly aware of the pitfalls. Self-checking and feedback are crucial for sound intuitive decisions, so some organizations have made these processes part of the culture in their executive suites.
Some of the most astute managers of people that I’ve run across in my work as a coach use intuition wisely. Intuitive people admit their instincts are often plain wrong. They understand that human nature can cloud decision-making. For example:
- We are prone to take unnecessary risks to recover a loss (the classic gambler’s syndrome).
- We tend to see patterns where none exist—a phenomenon that statisticians call “over-fitting the data.”
- We tend to be revisionists. We frequently remember when we didn’t trust our gut and should have, while conveniently forgetting when we were fortunate to have ignored our instincts.
- We set up a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we hire or promote someone, for instance, we consciously or subconsciously expend extra effort to ensure the person’s success, obscuring whether our choice was actually a good one.
Decisions are fluid, and leaders know when to change them. We enjoy the greatest power of intuitive decision-making (coupled with continual feedback) when we hone the process into an effective management style for quick action.
“People who believe in trusting their intuition tend to be more successful in life. Oprah Winfrey, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Virgin Airlines founder Richard Branson are all well-known gut trusters.”~ Lynn A. Robinson, MEd, Listen: Trusting Your Inner Voice in Times of Crisis (Globe Pequot Press, 2009)
Certain characteristics define executives who outperform their peers in intuitive decision-making.
- They’re open to feelings and impulses.
- They seek continual learning experiences and are unafraid of asking questions.
- They’re inquisitive and keenly observant.
- They have a good sense of what will happen next.
- They can articulate how a current situation has developed.
- They’re aware of their fallibility and are open to alternative interpretations.
- They’re confident when dealing with time pressures and uncertainties.
- They anticipate problems in time to avoid or defuse them.
- They aren’t put off by unexpected events; they use them to find new solutions.
- They understand their routines and are aware of system limitations and traps.
- They’re self-aware and acknowledge potential biases.