Do you Have the Courage to Follow Your Intuition as a Leader?

One doesn't have to go to a business school to learn but by developing the right instinct

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Have you ever been in that situation as a leader where all the facts pointed in one direction and your intuition told you to go in the opposite or different direction? I am almost certain you have - also more than once.


The interesting thing is: What did you choose? Did you choose to follow the “facts” or did you follow your intuition? I am asking that question because that very same question leads to a very intense discussion at a global leadership forum I recently facilitated for a group of international managers. On one side we had the leaders who strongly believed that facts at all times were more important than feelings and intuition.

On the other side, we had the managers who said that if they were in doubt they always followed their intuition. We had around 40 people in this Gugin workshop on decision-making in a globalised, multicultural world and it was interesting to observe how polarised the participants were on that particular question.

Afterwards, we asked our research unit, Gugin Research Institute to conduct a more in-depth survey to find out why managers and leaders seem to be so polarised on that particular subject. From the 40 leaders participating in the workshop, we had a feeling that gender, age and cultural background played a role but we were not certain at all. Gugin Research Institute asked 480 managers and leaders from around the world ( all former workshop participants) if they relied on facts or intuition when they were in doubt. The results showed that there was not a big gender division, nor a significant cultural division.

But there was a significant age division. That was majority (67%) of the younger leaders ( < 40 years old) relied on facts instead of intuition when they were in doubt. 71% of the leaders older than 50 years old trusted their intuition if they were in doubt. In the group of respondents, who were between 40 and 50 years old, there was no significant preference for one of the two options, So it turns out that with age you learn to trust your intuition more.

That might be because you realise that tangible facts don’t always tell the whole truth or that you realise that there is more than one right solution to a problem or opportunity. It also appeared that the leaders who made their decision based on intuition were more satisfied with their decisions than leaders who made their decisions based on facts. I think that is the case because a decision based on feeling or intuition feels good in a different way than a decision based on facts only.

So how can you as an entrepreneur or corporate manager or leader learn to make decisions based on intuitions if you don’t want to wait until you are 50 years old? My recommendation is to expose yourself to as many life experiences as possible. When you fail with something you also learn something.

You learn something about other people, about yourself and about the culture in which you failed. If you always walk on the safe path you will never get that knowledge. I also think it is a good idea to surround yourself with many different people. Then you will see that we can succeed in life in many different ways.

You will also see that there are many different ways of overcoming obstacles and you will learn that there are many different - equally valid perspectives on almost everything in life. The earlier in life you start practising this, the earlier you will develop our intuition. When you have the ability to combine a strong intuition with facts you will make better decisions.

You will also become much better at innovation and you will become a much better leader. And the best of it all is that it is free learning decision-making. You can do it just by changing your own attitude and behaviour. Good luck with it!