A LEADER’S INTUITION. . .

Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next. –Jonas Salk

Greenleaf writes: Intuition is a feel for patterns, the ability to generalize based on what has happened previously. . .

 Two separate ‘anxiety’ processes may be involved in a leader’s intuitive decision, an important aspect of which is timing, the decision to decide.  One is the anxiety of holding the decision until as much information as possible is in.  The other is the anxiety of making the decision when there really isn’t enough information – which, on critical decisions, is usually the case.  All of this is complicated by the pressure building up from those who ‘want an answer.’  Again, trust is at the root of it.  .  . .Can he defuse the anxiety of other people who want more certainty than exists in the situation? 

‘A feel for patterns.’  The leader whose thinking and approach to the world is ‘concrete’ more than – or rather than – ‘abstract’ will have difficulty when it comes to ‘feeling’ and to trusting his/her feelings.  Leaders whose thinking is ‘concrete’ will look for direct cause-effect patterns and will find it a challenge to trust those who say ‘I have a feeling that. . .’  Although a leader might not choose to – some would say ever be able to – develop their capacity for ‘intuitive feeling’ he/she might ensure that he/she has strong ‘intuitive’ thinkers available as members of their team.

My experience is that the successful ‘concrete’ thinking leader develops a powerful trusting relationship with the ‘abstract-intuitive’ thinking thought-partner.  This is a daunting challenge for the leader who is a ‘concrete thinker.’  My experience is that the ‘abstract-intuitive’ thinker will have an easier time adjusting to the ‘concrete thinker’ (by the by, one’s ability to ‘adjust’ in this way is rooted in ‘trust’).

Leaders who are primarily ‘concrete thinkers’ will often hold off on making a decision because they don’t have enough ‘hard data.’  I am thinking of a leader who is known for his putting off making certain decisions because he does not have enough concrete data.  This generates a great deal of frustration in those who need the leader to decide.

The most challenging decision for the ‘concrete’ thinker is, as Greenleaf notes, the critical decision that needs to be made and there is not enough information/data available.  Too often the leader will then react to where the most pressure is coming from.  Too often the leader makes a decision in order to ‘obtain relief from the anxiety.’  Too often the leader will inappropriately delegate the decision to another (‘the buck is passed’).

The irony in this: it seems that as humans we primarily make decisions that are ‘subjective’ and ‘emotionally’ rooted and then after the fact we employ ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ (we ‘rationalize’ and ‘justify’).  We might be ‘concrete’ but we are not as ‘objective’ as we believe ourselves to be – we are truly ‘emotional-beings’ who react/act emotionally first.

Do those led trust the decision-making ability of the leader?  Does a leader really, truly, want to know if they do?  This might be a good place to begin – to seek responses to both of these questions.

There is only the way of intuition. –Albert Einstein

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