Trust your instincts

We ask to what extent should a gut feeling be valued as a behaviour and addressed in management development

With softer skills coming to the fore in management development, emotions are now treated as behaviours, alongside conventional skills such as project management and financial acumen. Increasingly, the trend is to break free from the ‘left-brain’ constraints of logic and rationale to develop the ‘right-brain’ capabilities associated with creative thinking. It is no surprise then that research body the Talent Foundation is looking at the role intuition plays in effective leadership.

Bill Lucas
Chairman, Talent Foundation
A smart manager will see the data they get from their hunches as one thing to consider alongside all the other tools they use in their daily business. Times when we’re most stressed and the mind is most adrenal, we’re unable to relax enough to allow hunch to bubble up. In today’s business world, that is the challenge – to create enough space to allow intuition to develop. Relaxation, visualisation and questioning are exercises that can help.

Godfrey Owen
Deputy chief executive, Brathay
In the fast-moving world in which managers have to work, gut decisions play a greater role, and you need to learn to trust your instinct. If your values, objectives and beliefs are aligned with your own personal style of working, then it is likely you can listen to your gut more readily.
We develop leaders’ self-awareness of their own values, beliefs and motivations, and we ask them to reflect on the alignment they have with the organisations they are working with.

Rick Woodward
Learning and development director, Kimberly-Clark Europe
Business intuition used to be one of our critical leadership qualities, then after a review, we replaced it with building talent. It is not that we don’t think business intuition is important, it’s just that the people who need it are few and far between in business.

We think a more important quality is identifying talent and developing people.

We would put a priority on emotional intelligence, which is firstly about sensitivity and dealing with people in different ways. And also on the sheer skills of articulating points and coaching people.

Eugene Sadler-Smith
Director of Centre for Management Learning and Development, University of Surrey School of Management
It’s time to bring intuition into management development and training. In management schools, we develop the ‘left-brain’ capabilities – managers are constantly in analytical mode.

What we can do is make a conscious effort to put the ‘right brain’ in gear – things like meditation, contempla-tion, mindfulness – and train managers in those techniques.

Intuitive intelligence is not about giving free reign to your emotions. It is about balancing your intuitions with a rational approach.

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