Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Law No. 8 - The Law of Intuition - John C. Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership


John C. Maxwell's Law No. 8 is the Law of Intuition.

"Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias" - John C. Maxwell.

Great leaders are ones who have intuition. You know, that sense within that you should head a certain direction, or the inkling that there are people on the leadership team who are not with you. Intuition is seen on the sporting field when the sportsman knows to run left and anticipates the play. Intuition is witnessed in a leadership meeting, when the leader says, 'You know what, I have a feeling we should be investing our money into that new product.' Intuition occurs in the church, when someone discerns that a new direction is needed, even though this may not be the popular view.

Dictionary.com defines intuition as, 'Direct perception or truth, fact, etc, independent of any reasoning process'. Some people have intuition and some do not. This has always puzzled me. How do you teach someone to have intuition? How do you teach someone to be intuitive, and look at a situation and understand the right direction or the right answer to the problem? Within Christianity, some would say people at times are given the 'gift of wisdom' to know the right response for the moment. You could say, people have an inbuilt intuitive nature. Though, like any leadership quality, intuition can be developed.

Say for instance you are the owner of a local cafe, that serves great hot food to the community, with your freshly baked pies and pasties, and your homemade vanilla slice. The sales have declined recently and you just know what you need to do. Your intuition kicks in. Even before you re-do a demographical study of your city, and a survey of people's taste habits, you just know you need to implement some healthier choices on the menu. Other people say to you, 'But you're going to loose what makes you unique as a Cafe!' You decide to implement a new menu, that incoporates the healthier choices, and your intuition was right, sales increase, and your brand loyalty strengthens despite what the nay-sayers said.

This example is simplistic, but it does highlight intuition. Leadership intuition, is really that inner thought, or perception to make a particular change in an organisation. As you understand your organisation/group better, intuition will come more naturally. The successes and failures of the past, help to sway you a particular direction that you know you should take. Without being arrogant, at times your intuition is strong enough to not have to concede to the other opinions around you. Let me qualify this by saying, it is important to seek advice and colloboration, but at times, because of your experience in leadership and the organisation in which you are a part, you have the intuition to know what to do.

Question then: How do you develop intution? I believe that when you grow and develop within your particular field, whether it be science, religion, politics, entertainment, etc, you understand the environment better. You begin to perceive future trends because you have a good grasp on the field you are in. John C. Maxwell writes, 'Natural ability and learned skills create an informed intuition that makes leadership issues jump out at leaders' (: 82). Your decisions, while backed up by research, teaching and the opinions of peers, managers, etc, when interwined with your intuition, there exist a greater potential for having a greater effect on your situation. 

John C. Maxwell says the following, that:
  • Leaders are readers of their situation

  • Leaders are readers of trends

  • Leaders are readers of their resources

  • Leaders are readers of people

  • Leaders are readers of themselves (: 82-83).
Growing leaders, will grow their intution. As they understand their situation better, they will have better intuition. As they understand future trends they will enhance their intuition. As they are wise in their use of resources, their ability to be intuitive in their use will increase. As leaders understand people better, and motivate people more effectively, they will have the intuition to respond to people issues/problems well. Finally, as leaders are able to 'know thyself', and have a clearer picture of themselves, and become less clouded by their own mistakes, they will find their ability to intuitively know the response to make in a given situation increase. Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias.

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Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.
This is John C. Maxwell's 'Law of Intuition' (Law No. 8) adapted from his 1998 classic, 'The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership'.

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