“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.” — Albert Einstein

As leaders, our world is often consumed by data. Numbers rule our lives — and for good reason! Hard, objectively obtained data can help us see the clear reality of a situation. In many cases, data doesn’t lie which is why so many of us believe that we need to have these concrete figures to make the right decisions about our businesses.

Unfortunately, our mind doesn’t always read the data as objectively as the machine that generated it.

As we interpret this information, our ego can’t help but throw in its two cents, voicing an opinion in an effort to protect our insecurities. Fear, scarcity and resistance; even successful long-time business owners fall victim to over-analyzing and second-guessing.

This is where intuition comes in.

One of the best skills a leader can harness is the power of intuition. “Going with your gut” may sound like a dangerous strategy, but the case is mounting for CEOs to balance their focus on machine-generated data with their intuitive awareness.

A recent study has shown that experienced executives use “inferential intuition” which is a type of second-nature intuitive approach that’s been honed through years of analytical decision-making.

But before you start making decisions that just “feel right”, you should know that intuition is far more than just trusting your instincts, it is a skill you can improve. Eugene Sadler-Smith, an expert in executive intuition-based decision making, recommends the following for improving intuitive awareness:

  • Elicit good feedback. Seek feedback on your intuitive judgments to build confidence in your gut feel.
  • Get a sense of your batting average by benchmarking intuitions and seeing how they may be improved.
  • Play devil’s advocate. Test intuitive judgments; raise objections to them; generate counter-arguments; probe how robust your gut feel is when challenged. Capture and validate your intuitions.

Challenge yourself to give a little more thought to your own unique decision-making process. Only time will tell which process is best for you and your business and until then, you can choose to give each decision the right amount of practical and intuitive thought.