Harnessing Women’s Intuition: A Secret Weapon for Leadership Success

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Harnessing Women’s Intuition: A Secret Weapon for Leadership Success

“Always trust a woman’s intuition.”

Fact or folklore?

In my experience, adages and sayings usually come about for a reason, and this one is no exception.

A woman’s intuition is a powerful asset in leadership. It’s the ability to tap into deep insights and instincts that guide decision-making with clarity and wisdom.

In our society, intuition is often discounted and dismissed, especially in the business world.

We’re taught in school and many training programs that our rational minds are the only valid way to make decisions.

The reality is that we have three types of intelligence: our minds, our hearts, and our guts.

Our rational thinking stems from our mind, using data, facts, research, and brain-focused information to analyze situations and make decisions, but that’s only one aspect of our intelligence.

In February, I wrote about using your heart or emotions (Are You Leading with Your Head, Heart, or Gut?) This is our emotional intelligence, an often overlooked strength of many women.

The most elusive and misunderstood intelligence is our gut instinct or intuition.

Yet women often have a deep sense of what is the best decision in many situations. The problem is that we too often ignore it, usually to our detriment.

I know I used to ignore my intuition when I was in the corporate world, usually because it’s hard to justify why when it’s “just a gut feeling”. Many leaders won’t accept that as a valid reason.

However, I was almost always sorry when I didn’t listen to my gut. I learned over time that it was a mistake to ignore it.

So, I started to listen to my intuition and act on it when I felt a strong gut impulse. After a while, I no longer had to defend my intuition as my teams came to rely on my intuition and – more importantly – started using their own.

Intuition is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. If we embrace our intuition, we can make confident decisions and lead with certainty and assurance.

(By the way, this is not to say men don’t have intuition. I’m quite certain they do. 😊)

But how do we navigate the largely rational world of business using our intuition?

The first step is to start listening to it. We’re not trained to pay attention to our gut or that quiet inner voice, but it’s there when we allow the space and time to let it surface.

Here are some tips to start developing your intuition:

  1. Create quiet time in your schedule every day. The most effective time to do this is first thing in the morning, but you can weave quiet time into any time of the day.
  2. If you can, don’t schedule back-to-back meetings. Allow at least five minutes between them so that you have time to check in with yourself. I used to close my door and do a quick body scan before any important meeting and often afterward as well.
  3. When you’re in meetings, pay attention to how your body responds to suggestions or decisions. Does it stay relaxed, or does it tense up?
  4. When you make a decision, how do you feel? Calm and focused or a bit anxious?

Tension, anxiety, tightened muscles, or a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach can all be signs that your intuition is telling you something different than your brain. When that happens, pay attention! You might be on the wrong path.

But what about everyone else?

What happens when you can’t “justify” your gut instinct?

Effective leadership requires a delicate balance between logic and intuition. It’s about blending rational analysis with intuitive insights to make informed and inspired decisions.

The easiest solution to the problem when your intuition is telling you one thing and the facts are pointing to something different is to do more research. We all know that facts and data can be manipulated and incomplete.

If nothing else, use your intuitive knowledge to ask more questions, dig deeper into the data, look for other sources, or consult other people. Validate your intuition – for yourself and others.

Over time, you’ll find that you can trust your intuition – and others will too.

Intuition is your inner compass in the sea of complexity. Trust it to guide you through turbulent waters and toward the shores of success.

Do you use and trust your intuition in your leadership? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’d like to learn more about my intuition about the current and future landscape of women’s leadership, check out my newly released master class: Transcendent Leadership for Women.

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