Some people have a gift, a natural ability, to read people and situations and make insightful decisions based on a gut feeling. They can be convinced of the right action, and often be right, before they have the facts to back up their conviction. This is what John Maxwell calls “The Law of Intuition.”
Dictionary.com defines Intuition as: “direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension.” It is this special “perception” that drives natural leaders to make quick decisions while others lag-behind and perceive the leader as being brash & irresponsible, or as a brilliant risk-taker, or perhaps as a possessed fortune teller!
The Discernment of a Counselor
My wife is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has been seeing clients for almost ten years now. She has a special gift in her ability to discern the challenges or emotions people are experiencing. People naturally open up to her, even on their first conversation and even if they don’t know that she is a counselor. This intuition gives her the ability to ask the right questions that help the other person talk through their challenges to reach a conclusion or a new insight.
Just recently, she met a lady at the gym and within 30 minutes they had a very intentional conversation which ended with new insights, emboldened resolve, and even a moment of prayer. This lady later told my wife that their conversation gave her the courage to make a major life decision and that she was full of hope for the future. My wife’s natural intuition to read people provided an opportunity to touch a life in a significant way.
Seeing Through a Leadership Lens
Maxwell says that “good leaders see everything with a leadership bias, and as a result, they instinctively, almost automatically, know what to do when it comes to leading.” They don’t need all the facts and charts and speeches. They read people and situations and know “in their gut” what needs to happen to accomplish the goal or overcome the challenge.
Leaders, by intuition, see the end – the finish line, the end-zone – so they are able to encourage their “troops” and strive for excellence as they march toward that goal. Through intuition, leaders can also bring the best out of people and drive them to accomplish more than they thought possible. Strong, cohesive teams develop around strong leaders as each person is challenged to be their best to accomplish the common goal – which is revealed through the vision and intuition of the leader.
Leaders are Readers…
- Of their situation – they evaluate on the fly, ask probing questions, and “smell” things quickly
- Of trends – they take a broad view, perhaps years ahead, and sense trouble or opportunity
- Of their resources – when faced with challenges they think, “Who is the best person to take this on? What resources do we possess that will help us? How can I encourage my team to success?
- Of people – they sense what’s happening among people and know their hopes, fears, and concerns.
- Of Themselves – they know their strengths and limitations and their current state of mind.
What if Intuition Doesn’t Come Naturally?
Maxwell explains that intuition does come naturally to some, but that the majority of people have the potential to develop it over time. With diligence and patience, the leadership ability of intuition can be nurtured so that we understand leadership and it becomes automatic. Personally, I fall into this category. I am on a journey to develop my leadership abilities. I am finding that it requires me to be teachable and disciplined to continue striving forward. Join me on that journey and let’s strive forward together!
Above all, you must care about the people you are leading and have a desire to accomplish the goal. You have to treat people as humans and listen to them in order to read and lead them.
- Are you able to read a situation with a “gut feeling” of intuition?
- Do you trust that intuition? Does your initial instinct often come out to be true?
- What are you doing to develop your leadership ability so that this law will develop?
About the Picture
I took this picture of my wife while we were on vacation in New York City in 2009. This captured her with an upward, forward thinking vision.