Intuition and the “gut instinct” play a role in our success. There’s no way around it. As we march through out careers, we accumulate bits and pieces of experience and wisdom.
Sometimes it surfaces in fast reactions to a given situation. This won’t work. Or…This is fantastic!
You don’t know why, but something inside you is sure.
I’m a big fan of trusting your gut. But it can get you in trouble. Such as when…
- You forget that you are not who you serve. All of us serve someone. Our boards. Our members. When making decisions, do you try to put yourselves in the shoes of those you serve? Your typical members may be more affluent than you, or less. More educated, or less. Different parts of your membership may be…well, different. Your gut may be telling you what is best for you. But is that who is really important?
- You forget that you are a focus group of one. I always love talking with Eric. He’s in advertising, and I always discuss national ad campaigns with him. I always end up complaining about ads that I think are terrible. When I explain why, Eric just sits there and smiles. “Anthony,” he often says,” If they wanted you to like the ad, they could easily have done that. They didn’t make the ad with you in mind. They weren’t pitching you.” In other words, they didn’t care what I thought. They were after a different demographic, or gender. As a leader, an ad or idea may not catch your eye. But who is the audience? Vine and Instagram? I don’t get them. But man, am I behind the times! I at least get that much…
- You forget that the sands have shifted. The last time we tried that, it didn’t work. Not only didn’t it work, but the idea blew up in our face! That may be true. But there may be different technology, regulations, consumer expectations or people involved this time. How old is your intel on this issue?
- You aren’t getting all the data. As the leader, some people will rather not pass along bad news to you. This can give you the idea that all is well. Or the converse can happen. At the annual meeting, members may search you out to complain about this or that. You might leave the meeting thinking things are a disaster. How do you gather the right data before analyzing it? How do you know it’s the right data?
- You get blinded by past expertise. I used to know a bunch about regulatory compliance. I still remember a little! But I have to remind myself that I’m no longer the Compliance Guy. Things in the compliance world have passed me by in many areas. A few years ago, I was up-to-date in many areas of regulatory issues. Today, not so much. Past expertise, if it unwittingly goes stale, can be a big problem. You can confidently run yourself into ditches or down one-way streets going the wrong way.
Now, I hope I haven’t scared you off of trusting your gut. Perhaps I’m just proposing that you trust your gut, and then try to verify what it is telling you. Intuition, like many other things, can send you the wrong signal if you read it the wrong way.