Developing leadership intuition for me was a new exercise in leadership. It required a kind of preparation that I’m just not accustomed to.
Let me explain…
As a musician, right before I played at a competition in front of judges, or when I stand on stage in a club to perform, or play an event for a local church or any number of events, I had to prepare.
But that preparation was one-dimensional.
I practiced until I had what I was going to play right, memorized everything so I wouldn’t be fiddling around trying to follow along and keep up, and when it was show time, I brought everything that I personally needed.
In the most literal sense, I evaluated everything with a personal bias. When it came to preparation, to having a game plan, to evaluating my surroundings…
When it came to intuition I evaluated everything with either a personal or a professional bias.
What can I do here? How can I improve? How can I get better results?
I used my experience and facts to evaluate situations and navigate circumstances, which is intuition (more than just a gut feeling) but it was from the mindset of an individual filling his role.
Leaders, as it turns out, don’t have that luxury — if they want to be effective that is.
Understanding Leadership Intuition
Leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias – it’s called the law of intuition and the best way to explain it is like this…
As a musician I only had to memorize my own sheet music. A conductor on the other hand, would have to know them all.
When I first started to learn music, one of the things I admired about my orchestra teacher is that she knew how to play every instrument in that room, and she could site read every piece of sheet music in any clef.
Many people think sheet music is just sheet music and there isn’t a difference. Everyone has their part in front of them and they all just play their part. Conductors have sheet music too — a conductor’s score, and it has everyone’s part in it.
In order for the conductor to be a good conductor (a good leader), he or she needs to see the big picture, and more than that, they need to be able to make all the parts work together.
They need to identify strong players that would lead and play solos, find other leaders in the orchestra to fill the role of principal chair and section leaders, and more.
So What Is This Leadership Bias?
The most effective leaders can read into a situation and respond without hesitation, and more often than not, the action they take is on point and the right thing to do.
It’s almost instinctive in the way they react, but what is that does that? Is it blind luck? Gut instinct? Or something more…
It turns out that it is an informed intuition.
Just as I, on a personal or professional level would prepare to my role, the conductor would prepare for theirs, learning every part, anticipating possible problems, coming up with solutions and laying out every possible scenario in order to be ready to react should anything happen.
And the more concerts and events they conduct, the better and better their instincts become as they gain experience.
So, do you they lead with their head, or their heart?
Ultimately it is a combination of experience and that gut instinct that develops into a strong leadership intuition, and that intuition becomes their bias.
In high school, every year brings new students and new challenges and each year the leader gets more experienced and more effective.
Our conductor set goals for us when we were out of sync and utilized every resource available to her, even other students. There were student to student mentoring and tutoring, student leaders and so on.
Everything was aimed at improving the entire orchestra as a whole and all problems leaders face will ultimately be solved by this leadership intuition.
Unfortunately it’s one of the few things out there that there isn’t a rule book for, or some step by step guide to developing.
Whether you have some natural leadership ability, a lot of it or none of it, the only way to develop this intuition is with experience.
Begin with knowledge to get your foot in the door, and regardless of failure or success, learn from it. And as you start to gain more and more experience and apply leadership principles, you’ll begin to develop your own instinct.
It’s something that I’ve begun doing in my own personal journey of leadership this year and already I’ve seen the changes in mindset happening, and I know that with effort, it can happen for anyone else if they truly want to develop their leadership ability.