Leadership Intuition: Develop Yours! #leadership #PeopleSkills

Leadership Intuition: Develop yours. It’s not voodoo!

Whether you are a new or experienced leader, your plate is full of responsibilities and your to-do list brimming with things to learn. Where do you start? Well there is one skill — leadership intuition — that will steer you through the new challenges and guide you to lead people well. Leadership intuition delivers valuable foresight to the business, the employees, and to customers.

Develop your intuition.

Leadership Intuition: Image is fortune cookie saying trust your intuition

Leadership Intuition: Develop Yours!

Image by: Hexmar via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Intuition is a skill. It is not magic nor voodoo.

Intuition is experience reapplied.

Good detectives apply it to solve mysteries. Great physicians use it to diagnose your illness even when technology can’t. Very successful leaders use it to engage employees, to foresee and prevent trouble, and to create the new business vision.

If intuition is just experience, why call it intuition? Because it isn’t just experience.

Intuition is a synthesis of information and experience — especially about people — reapplied in a different time and space. It is continuous learning. With practice, the synthesis works so quickly that many people experience it as a hunch. I don’t rule out that some people may have a sixth sense that others don’t. Yet everyone can develop the skill of intuition — experience reapplied.

Steps to Develop Your Leadership Intuition

  1. Become a student of human behavior. Observe & listen to them. Communicate with them.

  2. Give yourself permission to see things as they are unencumbered with your fears, values, hopes, and personal agenda. Intuition springs from this reality. Like a detective, spot patterns and see exceptions to patterns. Notice how people look when they are feeling certain things. Be aware of how they behave when they have those feelings. This develops your leadership intuition.

  3. Build your leadership intuition data bank. Embrace non-measurable data. It crosses over time and space. Abandon the mistaken belief that “if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.” Human behavior is real even when you can’t measure it. Gather this input, synthesize it, and reapply it! Remember, your leadership intuition will grow when you notice people’s behavior.

Leadership Intuition: Implications for Employee Engagement

  • To strengthen your intuition, don’t micro-manage. It is difficult to see the forest if you are focusing on one tree. Broaden your vista to see the whole picture.
  • Get to know those you work with as people. Get to know them sooner than later — your colleagues, your team, your vendors, your suppliers, and other teams that your organization will work with. Knowing people well strengthens your intuition for future interactions.
  • Learn about diverse people behavior and never stop learning. If you stop learning, your leadership intuition data bank becomes incomplete, your intuition flawed, and your employees disengaged from your efforts.
  • Complete your intuition. Acting on intuition alone is a mistake. Use your newly developed intuition as a starting point for further assessment. It maximizes the value of your intuition and minimizes pattern error, stereotyping people, and bad decisions.

Consider Einstein’s view: “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. I believe in intuition and inspiration. At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.”

What benefits have you experienced from leadership intuition?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Other Leadership Posts for Growth:
Develop Emotional Intelligence: Are You Using These Steps?
13 Emotionally Intelligent People Skills for Career & Leadership Success

©2011-2014 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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19 Responses to “Leadership Intuition: Develop Yours! #leadership #PeopleSkills”

  1. Anne Egros says:

    Kate, great description of what intuition means and how to use it.
    During my international career as a multicultural team manager I was not always able to understand local languages however I was forced to develop other ways to understand a situation in a foreign context. I tried to spend time with each team member learning their body language, voice tone, some words they were using in different situations. It was mostly details stored at the unconscious level so I guess it is your description of intuition. Currently in my second career as a coach, intuition is very important to listen with empathy and be fully present for your client. After 3 or 4 coaching sessions I often use the DISC behavioral and personality assessment method to help my clients identify their natural communication leadership or management styles and preferences. There are basically 4 types based on two dimensions extrovert-introvert and people-task orientation: in 99 % of the cases I am able to identify the person’s style through intuition during the first two or three hours. However my recommendation is always checking by asking clarifying questions or rephrasing that what you think intuitively is a reality and not a miss-interpretation.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Always glad to read your comments on my posts Anne. Storing information at an unconscious level is a big part of intuition. Absolutely.

      As for instruments, I like the Wilson Social Styles better than DISC. The latter uses labels that make inferences about behavior instead of just describing it. E.G. In there view D is for dominant. In Wilson it is “driver”. Driver is a much better description. Dominant makes an inference about intention which is not always true.

      All the best,

      • Anne Egros says:

        Kate, Thanks for sharing about Wilson Social Styles, I agree that putting labels is not good and despite the explanations people always compare DISC styles in a “good or bad” way. Do you recommend any material to learn more about Wilson Social Styles ?

  2. ECFriend says:

    Great business/clinical definition KT… I like a more spiritual definition of intuition… Intuition is your angels whispering to you! Best way to develop intuition is meditation. I trust my intuitions implicitly. They are never wrong — and they serve me in love, business and every aspect of life.

  3. Kate, outstanding treatment of this important (and often misunderstood) concept. I’ll never forget walking out of my office into the hallway of our building a few years ago. I passed a stranger and got a sense to turn back to my office. I ignored that signal and found that my wallet had been stolen when I returned just a few minutes later from the restroom. I use that example because I think too often we ignore the intuitive side of our mind in favor of logic. Even when our gut protests, we will move forward with something that the facts support – and later face disappointment.

    I really like your suggestions for developing intuition. Thanks for an excellent, thought-provoking post.

  4. Deb Dutta says:

    Kate, this is a nice analysis of ‘intuition’ amongst leaders. Here’s another perspective… Seasoned business leaders or successful professionals in any field have mostly developed intuitionary skills related to their trade through intensive theory and practice. It is not uncommon for these individuals to often take an adamant position because their strong intuition supports their judgment. Unfortunately, they cannot themselves pin point the cause of the intuition, leave alone communicate it to the team! Their subordinates meanwhile construe this behavior as arrogance and inflexibili

    • Shaku says:

      I completely agree – i somewhat smugly call it the game, because so much of intuition is learning how to hold back until you have quantifiable data, then NOT pouncing. Gently finding a way to communicate and or/ navigate circumstances. Tough stuff and not always gut reaction, but it makes for a better life.

  5. Lolly Daskal says:

    Dear Kate,
    Love your post. Love the clarity and how you define intuition.

    I most particularly like: ” Intuition is not voodoo. It is not magic. Intuition is not psychic ability. Intuition is experience reapplied.”By trusting yourself you are giving permission for you intuition to guide, inspire and lead. Your intuition is the guiding voice within, trust it, learn from it and grow with it.<
    I love that you trust your inner voice.
    It says a lot about who you are!
    I admire you for your inner knowing and wisdom


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Your post caught my eye Lolly and I am grateful that you have shared it here. I hope all who read this comment will also tune into Lolly’s #LeadFromWithin chat on Twitter every Tues. night 8pm ET. One of the most inspiring hours – learning, connection, exchange, and done with respect for diverse views. Grateful.

  6. Charisse says:

    Excellent article. It really defines the concept of “Intuition.” I use a “diagnostic intution” in my work (IT user support) all the time and get asked by colleagues (and hiring managers in job interviews) how I arrived at that particular solution. The end result is I consistently solve problems, nobody else could figure out. I used to think it was establishing almost an empathatic synergy with the computer. For the most part I have to stop, think and break the situation down into individual pieces to explain how and why. And sometimes even that does not help. All I know the answer came to me and am at a loss how to explain it.

  7. Lotus says:

    Kate, this post caught my attention. As you point out, too often, people automatically dismiss anything that is not measurable when in reality, human behavior impacts and even drives our business results. I hope that leaders tune into this post and learn to use their intuition to fill in the many blanks that measurable data leaves open. Intuition gives us that quick nudge that something is either wrong and requires our attention or that we’re making the right decision and not to over-think. Intuition allows us to spark action in ourselves and in others.

    As always, a great read. Thank you.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Nicely said Lotus. Love your phrase … intuition gives us that quick nudge that something is wrong or it’s time to move ahead.

      There is so much that intuition brings to success!

      Many thanks,

  8. Dan says:

    Wonderful, Kate. All of us need to develop our intuition, and in many ways. Our inner worlds are intuitively defined. We have imagination. These are tools that help create meaning and joy when balanced with other powers. Some here have commented in a way that calls out an important boundary, between intuition and judgment. To me, intuition is a door opening; judgment its opposite. Intuition is the “hunch,” the “feeling,” the germ of a new idea or creative revelation. In a world begging for innovation and creativity, it’s a gift. To enhance intuition take a “non-linear” approach to what is assumed to be a rational task, such as creating an execution plan for a project. Instead of writing out the steps, paint them or tell them as a fairy tale. Sound silly? Try it and watch discoveries emerge and imagination soar. Then go back and take a more “rational” approach. Suddenly the plan is infused with new energy and greater meaning.

    All the best

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Dan,
      I’m with you completely about the “non-linear” approach. I use it and it does just what you say. Tremendous value. Thank you for adding that dimension to this discussion!

      Warmest wishes,

  9. Khalid says:


    The comments and the experience shared with such knowledgable people added a lot to your creativity Kate 🙂

    I related so much with what Charisse said 🙂 coming from an IT background I can feel what he says. To be an IT techie, knowledge about the product is not enough. Intuition skills help in completing what we are taught in training courses.

    Emotional intellegence and empathy coupled with intuition is what separate a good leaders from others.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thank you Khalid. I’ve known for years that my strong intuition was not magic. I was collecting inputs that people (who claim they didn’t have intuition) weren’t noticing. That gave rise to this particular blog post.

      Many thanks again. So honored to have your input. Your continued support and insight brings much to this blog.

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