There was a piece in last Saturday’s NY Times Business section that caught my eye – it was about an article in the MIT Sloan Management Review about managers and intuition.
The authors theorized that managers can improve their intuition over time, and explained how it could be done.
Here was their key statement:
Intuition is “not a magical sixth sense or a paranormal process. Rather, intuition is a highly complex and highly developed form of reasoning that is based on years of experience and learning and on facts, patterns, concepts, procedures and abstractions stored in one’s head.”
I reduce this down to two words:
To me, it’s really not that complicated – the sound application of common sense is the best “intuitive” action any leader can demonstrate. I would argue that this trait isn’t necessarily related to years and years of experience – it’s more of a discipline that, if ingrained early in one’s development as a leader, can set the foundation for a long career in good decision making.
The authors go on to warn us about a reliance on “intuition”:
“Like any good thing, a reliance on intuition can be taken to extremes. Executives should reflect on their intuitive decisions before they execute them.”
In their view, intuition and reflection are two different processes. The way I see it, in the application of common sense, this “step back” is always part of the process.
Perhaps I am oversimplifying all of this, but I truly believe that the consistent application of good ‘ol common sense is the most important facet of good leadership.
And that’s as uncomplicated as it can get. And a bit more comprehensible to boot.