Jun 18

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8 – The Law of Intuition

In John C. Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (2007), John emphasizes the law of intuition. The law of intuition is one of the more difficult leadership laws for many people to grasp and understand. The law of intuition recognizes that leaders evaluate situations with their leadership bias. Intuition molds the leader’s thinking and decision-making processes. Everyone possesses intuition within their area of strength or body of knowledge meaning they instinctively know how to react to a given situation by relying on their strength and knowledge developed through practice. Likewise, leaders exhibit the ability to use intuition and instinct by leveraging their leadership bias. Intuition relies more on feeling and sensing rather than data or facts and figures. Intuition relies on facts but couples that input with other intangible factors such as timing, momentum, and morale. Those intangibles contribute to one’s success when leading others toward an objective.

What do you see in the world around you? What you see in the world or a given situation is a reflection of who and what you are. Your biases determine what you see. As one with a technology bias, I immediately try to solve problems from the technology perspective. As my responsibilities shift to more of a business focus, I must work hard to evaluate situations not only from the technology perspective but also from other perspectives then balance those with my technology bias. In other words, just because I can solve a problem with technology does not mean that a given situation warrants the effort from a business perspective.

Your natural ability and learned skills combine to form your intuition. Therefore, improving leadership intuition is possible for those willing to invest the time in learning new skills.

So what do leaders understand that non-leaders do not?

Leaders understand the situation. Leaders evaluate situations quickly from a variety of perspectives. This enables the leader to gather details often overlooked by others. For instance, listening skills enable the leader to sense the emotional state, attitudes, and chemistry of their team. They sense the momentum of their team and sense upcoming or potential roadblocks. These intangibles combine with the fact-based details to provide a more comprehensive view of the situation.

Leaders understand trends. We often find ourselves so focused on assignments that we neglect to step back to see the context or big picture. In the early 1990s, I remember reading an article predicting the exodus of manufacturing from the United States. At the time, I supported a large manufacturing facility. In just a few short years, I observed the reality of the prediction. The event forever emphasized the necessity of observing trends and the need to make the necessary adjustments to remain viable in the evolving economic environment.

Leaders understand their resources. Leaders consider the resources available to solve problems and reach objectives. My personal tendency or bias is to think how I can solve a particular problem. A leader tends to think in terms of leveraging available resources to solve problems. The ability to delegate effectively is a key trait of a successful leader. Effective delegation enables extending one’s capacity to accomplish more than can be done alone. Delegation is such an important topic, I plan to post an article dedicated to that topic.

Leaders understand people. The better one understands people, the more effective that leader is in mobilizing people toward a goal. Leadership requires the ability to persuade people to follow. The better you understand people and the more you develop relationships with people, the easier the persuading becomes.

Leaders understand themselves. Leaders assess their strengths, weaknesses, skills, blind spots, and state of mind regularly. Failing to do so creates the possibility of hindering rather that assisting progress. This occurs when your existing bias does not match the reality of the current situation. In the ever changing and rapidly changing environment in which we find ourselves, the need for frequent assessment is even more critical to the leader’s success.

Intuition is a combination of natural ability and learned skills. The less natural ability you have, the more important the learned skills become. Exercising those learned skills enables an intuitive or instinctive response when a particular situation or need arises.

Links to other posts in this discussion on the laws of leadership.

Mind map of the 21 laws of leadership.

Introduction to the leadership laws | 1 – The Law of the Lid | 2 – The Law of Influence | 3 – The Law of Process | 4 – The Law of Navigation | 5 – The Law of Addition | 6 – The Law of Solid Ground | 7 – The Law of Respect

Maxwell, John. (2007). The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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