BusinessDay

How to be an instinctive leader

Leadership requires a great measure of instinct, and strong leaders have good instincts. They are also confident in their decision-making abilities. While good leadership skills have evolved, before spreadsheets, financial charts, and technological advancements, the most important leadership skill was a finely honed instinct. Leaders are more likely to rely on hard evidence and data, logic, and rational analysis to support their biggest and most significant decisions. However, recent insights and discoveries in neuroscience have given new importance and credibility to the role of intuition in leadership, especially when it comes to decision-making.

Albert Einstein says, “the intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift”. Following your instincts does have a calming influence on the day-to-day decisions, but most leaders are too afraid and unwilling to trust their gut when it comes to the big stuff. When it comes to major strategic choices and matters of great complexity, intuition doesn’t often get a seat at the table. Leaders need to think of their instinct as a personal radar that is built up over the years. Usually, the data you analyze confirms your personal radar’s instinct, but it can’t replace it. Instinct is vital.

Generally, as a leader, you are told to “go with your gut.” Simultaneously, you are also instructed to listen to the data and make decisions based on the cold hard facts. Data goes a long way in helping leaders to make decisions, and research shouldn’t be ignored or dismissed without consideration. However, the best leaders know when to listen to the experts and listen to their gut. But according to a study published in the Journal of Psychological Science, the study reveals how intuition plays an important role in developing soft skills. This includes networking and human resources. These two activities are difficult to quantify with data.

The research finds that individuals can use their intuition to be more confident in their decisions while making better, faster, and more accurate decisions. It also found that when positive subliminal inputs surrounded people, they could better make decisions and trust those decisions over time. So practically speaking, in business, when leaders get to know their team members on a social level, they are better able to pick up on employee happiness and job satisfaction. This helps them to make better decisions for the company because they know what their team members need.

For real success, business leaders need to learn to use and trust their intuitive sense. When we know how to depend on our inner ears and eyes to truly read a person or situation, we will find subtle clues that would influence our choices. As a business leader, you constantly need to come up with new ideas. You are creating a vision for tomorrow and a world that doesn’t exist yet. Therefore, your greatest resource for getting it right is your instincts. We learn business instincts with time and experience. When you become immersed in a subject or group, your mind draws on all that knowledge with minimal effort. Successful leaders rely on their observations and instinct, not just on management consultants or trends. They develop good leadership skills by observing their products and customer reactions. And it’s often their instincts that tip them off on the right deal, the right product, or the right time.

How do you maximize your leadership capabilities and learn to trust your instincts?

Honing your instincts for creative change and innovative ventures sharpen the instincts of those around you. In this regard, leading by instinct can become contagious. Now, just because an idea is new doesn’t mean that it is progressive. And when new ideas are seriously evaluated and considered before being dismissed, team members who present them feel affirmed. But when those ideas have no more chance of consideration, the instinct for creativity is dwarfed by the toxic cultural work environment.

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When team members do not experience instinctive leadership, they retreat to safe models that ensure job security even as their retreat ironically threatens the entire organization’s health. Without an infusion of instinct and an elevation of its importance in the company or team, eventually, productivity dries up, and the stream of innovation trickles to a stop. Instinct is important to how you lead. When instincts are ignored, leaders become followers, and followers become unemployed. However, when we harness our instincts’ synthesis of wisdom with ongoing education, instinctive leadership grows stronger and stronger. It grows from seeds of responsibility and influence.

Leadership emerges when an individual can capably do what needs doing; the real test is passed when a person can implement what needs to be done through others. If you want to lead by your instincts, you must ask yourself: can you inspire those who work around you to join your efforts? Leading by instinct requires you to influence others as you amass a pool of support. If you are to achieve the dreams set before you, it will require a team effort, with many supporting players. Your instincts can help you assemble the best team and retain these talented individuals, but you must also be able to influence them. Knowing what motivates them to new heights is part of this instinctive influence. Managing conflict, creating innovative solutions, and managing your character and moral centre’s strength also influences others.

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