Leading with your gut. Do you trust and use your intuitions?

Whilst out running on the moors last Sunday, I came upon an expansive boggy area where a few strategically placed stones acted as stepping stones. I stopped to look where I was placing my feet when I noticed something brown and well camouflaged within the bog. A closer inspection revealed that it was a lapwing chick. It laid motionless face down in the bog with its eyes closed. I fished it out, laid it upon the heather and had taken several strides when something urged me to go back and look at the chick.

I picked up its lifeless form, wrapped it in my headband and sat contemplating what to do. Minutes passed in the sunshine when I noticed a pair of lapwings above.  I looked at the chick and was wondering what my next move would be when to my surprise it opened its eyes. A few moments later I placed it on the ground but it seemed unable to move and find its ‘legs’. Picking it up and stroking it gently seemed a natural thing to do and after a while I observed that it was starting to straighten its legs. Moving to a space away from the bog and sheltered I placed it on the ground, watched it take a few faltering steps before it scuttled off.

As I continued I wondered what made me go back? My gut instinct told me to go back. Do you trust your gut feelings? Do you acknowledge that 6th sense or ‘knowing’? Most of us have experienced these but do we take any notice of them and use them in the work place? Would you trust your colleague’s ‘gut instinct’ or would you dismiss it because it transcends reason and logic?

We work in environments where often there may not be sufficient data available, not enough time to gather all the required information or where decisions have to be made then and there.  In such ambiguous situations or where there is conflicting evidence, intuition, experience and knowledge is relied upon. Skilled strategic decision making requires an ability to blend intuition with logic, reasoning and analysis to inform processing and help leaders make better decisions.

According to Professor Hodgkinson, intuition is the result of the way our brains store, process and retrieve information on a subconscious level and is a real psychological phenomenon. Research shows that intuition is the brain drawing on past experiences and external cues to make a decision.

As neuroscience advances more research is being conducted such as the US Navy investigating how members of the military can be trained to improve their intuitive ability during combat and references several stories where intuition has saved lives.

What are some of the things that you can do to tap into and amplify this natural ability and wisdom?

– Give yourself permission to follow and use your instincts and intuition. Learn to trust that the answer is there within you

– Start trusting your hunches when you have them and tune into your inner voice. Take notice of those niggling, nagging, gut feelings and acknowledge them. Notice when and how they present themselves so you will recognise when it does matter

– Tune into what your body is telling you. What is that sensation  in your stomach, the lump in the throat…saying to you?

– Try and declutter your head and mind as often as possible to get access to those intuitive feelings

Do you take notice of your gut feelings? Do you have a story to share where you used your intuition? How are you as a leader tapping into your intuitive powers?

Love to hear from you

Join me for Coaches Connect  and Follow me on Twitter @verawoodhead


About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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6 Responses to Leading with your gut. Do you trust and use your intuitions?

  1. Hi Vera – yes, I have learned to trust my instincts. There have been a couple of occasions when I have ignored them. They’ve been positively screaming at me and I put it down to paranoia. Afterwards, stopping and reviewing the situation my instincts were proven right. Now I listen.


  2. Amie Crews says:

    Hi Vera
    I’m an absolute firm believer in listening to intuition, as Carolyn says its often telling you something but we choose to dismiss.

    Don’t get me wrong there is a place for what others might see as logic and reason and sometimes its just positioning the message differently

  3. mbraining says:

    Hey Vera, great post! And an important subject – learning to tune into and trust your gut instincts. And fascinatingly, ‘gut instinct’ is not just a metaphor…

    Informed by recent Neuroscience findings about the discovery of functional and complex neural networks or ‘brains’ in the heart and gut, we’ve completed 2.5 years of behavioral modeling research on the core competencies of these brains and how they communicate and integrate with the head brain. We’ve written about our findings and the models and techniques in our recently published book ‘mBraining’. See http://www.mbraining.com for more info.

    For example, one of the things we’ve uncovered in our work is that much of intuition is processed in both the heart and gut brains, and indeed the gut brain goes through a sleeping cycle each night that mimics and integrates with the equivalent of the head brain. When the head brain is dreaming during REM sleep, the gut brain is undergoing RGM (Rapid Gut Movement) sleep. The research indicates that it is during these periods, that intuitions are being communicated from the gut and heart, via the vagus channels, to the head. There are lots of distinctions and techniques that come out of these insights, and match completely what you’ve been writing and talking about in your post.

    I hope you find this backup to your own work as fascinating as we do.

    • verawoodhead says:

      Hello, thank you so much for sharing your valuable insights, information and resources – that is very kind of you. Will definitely head over there and check them out

      • mbraining says:

        Thanks Vera, really appreciate your interest and hope you find our work as fascinating and useful as we do, and the growing community of coaches around the world who are using the models and techniques in our work to really make a profound difference. Love to hear your feedback on our insights.

        best wishes, Grant and Marvin

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