Leaders and Intuition
A powerful tool to leverage the decision process

« It is with the logic that we prove and with the intuition that we find. »  Henri Poincaré

During coaching and micro-coaching sessions, both the coach and the coachee regularly call on their intuition. Intuition allows someone to see complex situations under a new light and to easily solve problems that first appeared as inextricable.

What is intuition?

Intuition is what one calls "flair" in business jargon. It is almost a physical impression with regard to a person, an event or a situation.

Intuition is the oldest and most natural way of thinking for the human mind. In the early times of the species, man had to rely on his intuition to apprehend his environment and to succeed in finding the means of subsistence. A that time, logical thought was only embryonic.

Through times, man has developed his rational, logical and analytical thought, often to the detriment of the irrational, unconscious and intuitive type of thought. Nowadays intuition is even considered with suspicion by most of us. However artists and most scientists regularly call on the intuitive process because it appears to be particularly efficient in situations of big complexity.

Since the world in general, and the enterprise in particular, become more and more complex to manage, it would be foolish to call only on rational analysis to make decisions. The issue is more to think otherwise than to think more.

Intuition calls on feeling, itself fed by the six senses. It is almost a physical sensation. Intuition gives us a much broader "picture" of a situation than we could get by means of rational analysis alone.

To what extend can intuition be useful to me?

Intuition proves to be very useful in the decision process, especially in complex situations. It works upon a large amount of data that have been accumulated consciously or unconsciously by our senses and proceeds by intuitive flashes, sometimes solicited sometimes not. With a little practice, it is possible to call on our intuition in a systematic way.

Intuition can be successfully solicited when we have the impression to be in a dead end. When we don’t know what direction to take, it might be worthwhile to call on another way of thinking.

For those interested, intuition is also an excellent way to discover our own genius, what makes us unique in the world, our real mission on earth.

Professional coaches regularly call on their coachees’ intuition to allow them to become aware of their deep aspirations and to reach ultimately superior levels of performances.

The limits of intuition

The intuitive process does not function properly with people who are reluctant to do some soul-searching or who are anxious to preserve their "consistency." These people should first do some work on themselves in order to identify and to neutralize the various inhibitory factors at the origin of their fear.

On the other hand, everybody who’s open and ready to progress will benefit from the intuitive thought, provided he is prepared to listen to himself.

Can I trust my intuition?

Of course. Most scientists will tell you: "Without intuitive flashes, there isn’t any discovery". Archimedes, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and even Descartes praised the intuitive thought.

One should notice however that intuition functions best when we look for a solution to a given issue. The better we focus, the better intuition works.  Besides, it is necessary to have previously assimilated a maximum of information and to have already thought in a rational way about the problematic in question before calling on the intuitive thought.

Beginners often confuse intuition and wishful thinking. In the beginning it is not easy to make the difference between our desires and real intuition. The best way to overcome this difficulty is by validating the received information by repeating the intuitive process several times on the same topic.

The intuitive process

The intuitive process calls as well on our rational thought as on our intuitive thought, one reinforcing the other. The intuitive process takes place in four stages, summarized in the “I.D.E.A.” methodology.

Information - You gather a maximum of information on the topic that preoccupies you: you read, interrogate, discuss, think, analyze. In short, you heavily solicit your rational thought.

Decanting - You let the question settle while passing to another activity, if possible non cerebral: you go for a walk, you play with your kids, you go and visit friends, In short, you hand on to your unconscious that will continue the work in the background.

Enlightenment – At the most unexpected moment, the answer emerges like a flash. It can occur in the middle of the night, in your car, in the middle of a meeting, etc. but you immediately feel that you hold a clue.

Assessment - You take the lead again and review carefully the proposed solution, by using both your logical analysis and your feeling. Do you feel at ease with this solution and why? Write down all the elements and the decision you are going to make. These notes will act subsequently as a reference when you will judge whether you were right to follow your intuition.

With a little practice, the intuitive process will become automatic, spontaneous and very fast.


Since the world of the enterprise is becoming more and more complex, managers should complete their usual way of thinking, i.e. rational analysis, by an often untapped though even more natural type of thought: the intuitive knowledge. In spite of its less controllable nature, intuition is a fast and reliable tool that proves to be extremely useful in the decision process.


For more of information: http://www.executivecoaching.be

About the author:

Marc De Wilde was himself an entrepreneur and company director during 18 years. He knows therefore the necessary requirements to run a business. Throughout time, he developed coaching techniques that he successfully applied to his teams. He now coaches business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate managers in Belgium.

Contact : marc.dewilde@executivecoaching.be ou +32 (0)473 94.21.47

Written on 5-March-2003