Don’t ignore intuition in leadership

Gut feeling, instinct, intuition … a sixth sense – whatever you call it, we all use our intuition everyday and leaders are no different. So how can leaders tap into that gut feeling to serve their teams better? 

Embrace your instincts 

The very nature of intuition means that there is no hard and fast evidence to prove that feeling you have in the pit of your stomach – the one that tells you something isn’t quite right or that there’s something else going on that you’re not aware of. 

Often, leaders can be guilty of squashing that nagging thought and turning to data instead to back up their next move. We all want validation through the data or through other people that our intuition is correct – and that’s not a bad thing. When you can’t validate your intuition with data, it doesn’t mean you should ignore it. It’s not always bad to simply listen to your intuition because it could be telling you something important about your team that the data may not be able to capture just yet. If something doesn’t seem right, look into it! 

Intuition and data should work together 

Data plays an important role and having the numbers and proof to back up a decision or a new approach in your leadership can be extremely helpful. Data on its own, however, can lack a sense of ‘humanness’ that is essential in leadership. 

In a 2023 Harvard Business article, Marcy Farrell says: “At its best, intuition is a powerful form of pattern recognition – something that human brains are wired to do.” 

While it might not seem like it on the surface, intuition is often a feeling based on data mined from your own experiences, your knowledge of your team and what’s happened in the past. Of course, it can’t be quantified or written down anywhere for proof, but it doesn’t mean that it’s any less valuable. Both data and intuition should be used together in leadership. 

Use your gut feeling to help your team 

Your intuition comes in handy when working alongside your team. You can use that gut feeling to pick up on where your team is at – as a whole and as individuals. In 1:1 settings, this is even more crucial where your team members might not be sure how to express how they’re feeling about their work and their role. 

It’s critical for leaders to be picking up on uncertainty and frustration as well as motivation, energy and passion, so that they can help guide their team towards addressing problems, getting back on track and expanding on successes. 

Leaders need to trust their intuition is giving them a cue to look into something more closely – good or bad – and use that to their advantage. 

Want to work on harnessing your intuition in your own leadership? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.