Intuitive thinking

Do you find that you are required to make complex decisions facing with uncertainty in a hurry? Have you ever felt that you are supposed to take into consideration too many facts, data and numbers to make a decision in today’s fast paced environment? Are you confident in using your gut feelings in these kind of situations?


Intuition – even though there are some out there who are still too scared to admit it – has a growing role in making the best possible decisions not just for ourselves and for our families but for our businesses as well. But what is intuition? The Oxford Dictionaries define intuition as

“the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

Does intuition have linkage with the state of flow?

Flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. A state of mind, when conscious thoughts seem to meld together with the action itself. I would say that when someone is in the zone, that person doesn’t have any other choice just to go with his/her gut feelings and listen to the appearing intuitions. Conscious mechanisms would interrupt and detour the decision making in these states.

Though some might think that intuition is a seemingly magical quality that you have to be born with, it is actually everyone’s characteristic and can be improved. It improves with every single experience we gain over the years, with recognizing the patterns and with analyzing and fully understanding every situation we face.  Intuitive leaders also continually challenge themselves to learn from the consequences of their tough appraisals.

What are the characteristics of intuitive leaders?

  • They recognize the patterns: as they gain repeated experiences at work, they assemble a catalog of recognizable patterns that are sets of connected cues. They know which cues are relevant, easily and quickly recognize them and even see the similar patterns in disparate fields. Patterns also trigger routines for responding that happen so quickly that might seem mysterious.
  • They see the big picture and don’t worry about taking risks: they don’t hung up on details and focus on the possibilities not on the obstacles.
  • They use analysis as a supporting tool ensuring that their intuition don’t mislead them. They don’t over-analyze though. They can articulate how a current situation has developed over the time. They are always prepared for seemingly unexpected problems – they know how to avoid or defuse them and always find solutions.
  • They know and check themselves: they not afraid of admitting that their instincts are often cloud their decision-making. They are self-aware and aware of their fallibility.
    • the gambler-syndrome: when they take unnecessary risk to recover a loss
    • sometimes they tend to see patterns where none exist
    • sometimes they regret when they haven’t listened to their gut and should have, but forget the fortunate situations when they luckily ignored their instincts
  • They are good at sizing people up by reading their body language and non-verbal clues. They are open to feelings and impulses, inquisitive and keenly observant.
  • They are life-long learners: always seek for new experiences and are unafraid of asking questions. They even consult experts if a given task requires it to do so and learn from them.
  • They put energy into understanding the situation they face to and they always think ahead. They know how to foresee potential problems.
  • They don’t confuse desire (intensely wanting something to happen) with intuition and they always know which decision-making strategy they should use: analysis or intuition.

How intuitive decision making can be improved?

Beside acquiring and practicing the above listed characteristics of an intuitive leader (this list is not exclusive and can be completed with many other characteristics) there is a fun and risk free way of doing it as well: by playing FLIGBY. As a virtual CEO in this unique leadership development game the player can choose whether he/she would read through all the recommended readings and make sound analysis or base his/her decisions on gut feelings. It definitely worth a try.