Tools for leaders


By Karin Leonard

Sam has been head of the Sales Department for over 10 years. Although he pays careful attention to the reports and numbers that cross his desk on a daily basis, he has been known to make most of his executive decisions by relying on his gut feel.  And the results continue to be overwhelmingly successful.


An air of myth and misconception surrounds intuition.  The more rationally-minded tend to write it off as unreliable and unscientific. In “spiritual” traditions, intuition sometimes is endowed with mystical powers beyond our reach.  In truth, intuition is explainable, follows its own very precise laws, and can be systematically built as a valuable resource.

We constantly pick up immense amounts of information from our environment – very little of which we are consciously aware. This data goes into the unconscious storehouse, where it continues to be processed.  Intuitions, then, are sudden flashes of knowing, emerging out of a very logical integration of the experiences and facts that we have accumulated.

Intuition also refers to “unconscious competence”, which we reach when we’ve gained so much experience in a given area that we can handle it in our sleep. Therefore, when we talk about relying on our gut feel, it means that – like Sam in the example above – we can draw on vast inner resources, which are available to us quicker than cognitive processing.

Building the Intuition Muscle

Like Deanna Troi from Star Trek – The Next Generation, you continuously receive intuitive information. Now she is someone who has learned how to identify and use that knowing (it also helps that she is a telepath…).  And even if your ambition isn’t to be on board a starship, you certainly can go to “new frontiers” by including the powers of intuition.

First, you need to identify how intuition shows up for you. Get to know your unique intuitive “language.”  What kind of body sensations, images and feelings communicate your intuitive knowing? Or do you hear the famous “Inner Voice”?

Interpreting Intuitive Language

Intuition itself is always accurate.  What is more fallible is our interpretation of intuitive information.  This data gets filtered through our hopes and fears, and mixed with our expectations, assumptions, and belief system.

Just as in learning a new language, you need to discover what your intuitive cues mean.

What sensations and pictures do you receive for a “yes”, which ones for a “no”?  Do you get goose bumps, see colors or patterns, or feel an adrenaline rush when something is right on?  Does a tight stomach accompany a “wrong” decision?  Do a flashing red lights or an alarming voice try to warn you?

Experiment with minor decisions for one month:  when selecting a menu item, or what shirt to wear, check for intuitive ”yes” and “no” signal inside, and then make your decision accordingly. As you learn to identify your individual cues, you can gradually apply them in all life areas.

When to Use Intuition

Short answer: all the time!  Since intuitive knowing draws on much more information than we’re conscious of (and some claim intuition is also a way for us to tap into the “super-conscious” – the timeless field of knowledge that is available to all of us), it can help us in all areas, from business and the stock market to personal relationships. However, it is best to consider intuition as just one source of information when making bigger decisions – especially as we’re learning to interpret intuitive cues more accurately. 

For information:   

Karin Leonard & Associates:  (831) 724-5400  

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