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Great Leaders Rely on Intuition For Their Most Important Decisions

Great Leaders Rely on Intuition For Their Most Important Decisions

Sometimes thought of as a secondary skill, intuition is often sacrificed for over- thinking and gathering as much data as possible. And while you do need hard facts, information, and preparation, if you’ve listened to leaders like Oprah or Tim Cook speak about their biggest and most successful decisions, they’ll say that ultimately it came down to intuition.

[Related: The Questions I Ask Myself When Making Tough Decisions]

Not leveraging that innate power can hold you back in more areas than just smart decision-making. Use it to complement your “outside knowledge” and you’ll excel with problem-solving, creativity, and communication - the skills needed in a leader.

If you might think you’re more of a left-brained, analytical type, and tapping into intuition isn’t your strong suit, don't worry. This article will help you understand, find, and boost your gut check.

Why is it so important?

Intuition is information. Really valuable information that cuts through outer noise. It not only tells you what you want, but also gives you cues about the people you’re communicating with. Understanding your audience is key to making connections. And effective communication always comes down to connecting.

Adapting quickly, responding wisely, and spotting solutions requires the ability to process all that information and sense subtle shifts from people and situations.

[Related: How to Display Your Soft Skills as Coveted Leadership Traits]

So, where is it?

First, let’s clarify. Intuition in your body, not your mind. You know this, right? Sometimes it’s a tingle in your spine. A knot in your stomach. Hairs on your neck standing up. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you feel or where it’s coming from but…you just know.

The reason you can’t put your finger on it it is because it’s energy. Think of it like electricity. You might not be able to see it, but you know it’s there.

Intuition also comes from stored information in your body. That’s because your body holds your diary. This isn’t about scars from injuries that we see or feel. All experiences, good or bad, are recorded somewhere.

However, there are a finite amount of experiences and memories that we can hold in our mind, and there's no way we can sift through all of them to help inform all our decisions. But because your body has kept a record of everything that happened in our past, we get those “hits” which circumvent our intellect and go right to our gut instinct.

And therein lies the biggest culprit to silencing our powerful intuition.

The disconnection from our body.

We’re so far up in our heads. Or other people’s heads. Or in our phone. We’ve been taught that our intelligence is based solely on external knowledge, and that to succeed, we need to be hyper-focused and eternally productive.

All of this pulls us out of being in our body. How can you get the intuitive messages from it if you’re not even there?

Remember, intuition is energy. But so are stress and tension. Locked up, clenched energy held in your muscles and in your mind. They are like layers of a brick wall that your intuition is trying to throw a shoulder into but can’t seem to bust down.

Action steps to strengthen or relocate your gut instinct.

1) Get physical.

Try mindful movement like yoga, dance, or martial arts. I'm all for sports, but usually, they require an opponent to think about. For this goal, you want to be more internally-focused. You can move...intuitively. Flop on the floor and stretch, make shapes, make snow angels. Whatever comes to mind will be what you need. You just need to listen.

And if you don’t know immediately, that’s okay. It may have been a while since you stepped out of your head, so take it easy on yourself.

2) Get quiet through meditation.

There is a reason so many leaders and top performers have a meditation practice. Meditating is like leaving a loud party so you can have an actual conversation with your quiet friend (in this case, your intuition) whom you couldn't hear over the music and yelling (life).

Don’t go into over-achiever mode with it. Stack the deck in your favor and start with five minutes each day. Sit quietly, close your eyes, breathe in, breathe out. And that’s it for now. When, or if, you want to experiment with other methods, there is no shortage of options online.

[Related: 100 Days of Meditation Can Help Your Career]

3) Cultivate awareness.

Throughout the day, consciously notice being in your body. Feel your back against the chair. Stop and take a breath that you feel the space in your lungs and rib cage. Root into your feet. Paying attention to that inner domain brings you back to your home base, where you can receive those important messages and ideas.

4) Keep a record.

Write down what comes to you after doing any of these practices and it will become a loop that strengthens and quickens your ability to process this new information.

By honing your intuition, you elevate all your leadership skills. You’ll still have data, experience, and preparation, but now you also have intuition opening the door to more clarity, decisiveness, and connection - all essential to moving forward and doing the work you were put here to do.

[Related: 5 Ways Women Can Maximize Their Leadership Skills]


Pam Reece is a communications consultant specializing in female leadership and wellbeing.

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.