In the last post we introduced the concept of intuition.

John Maxwell describes 3 levels of leadership intuition:

finger ok on sunlight

1. Those who naturally understand leadership.
You can see it in them from a very young age in the way that they are instinctively able to draw other children to them in the playground or on the sports pitch. With this natural ability they have enormous potential to become high calibre leaders.

2. Those who can be nurtured to understand leadership.
This is the case for the vast majority of us. We have some degree of people skills to get on with others. The key is how much we are willing and motivated to learn and grow. Leadership can be learned and our level of intuition increased – if we really want to. The alternative is that our leadership ability reaches a certain lid and we are unable to progress further.

3. Those who will never understand leadership.

There are those who do not have leadership ability and also have no inclination or motivation to develop. This is unlikely to be you, because you have had enough inclination to read this far!

In terms of leadership, one piece of wisdom that I have found enormously helpful relates to something said by Ken Blanchard. When I first heard his advice, I initially was repulsed by it and everything within me wanted to disagree. Only after having gotten it wrong on a number of occasions and being hurt in the process, can I say I agree with him. Blanchard’s advice is to never allow anyone into your inner circle who does not give you a positive emotional feeling in the first 90 seconds of meeting them!

Does that surprise you? As I said it was enormously surprising to me as well. The key is the inner circle. If I am going to work closely with others there has to be a strong sense of collaboration and chemistry between us if we are going to work at our optimum level. I do not want to be walking on egg shells or having to second guess what the other person is thinking before I share what is on my mind. In the past I was much more optimistic about human nature, believing that if I was reasonable and cooperative enough, the other person would change. Now, because of mistakes I have made in the past, I am very careful about this.

An example of a highly intuitive leader is the late Steve Jobs (for a previous post and video about him, see here).

Jobs created Apple Computers in 1976 with Steve Wozniak, reportedly in a garage. After just 4 years it had become a multi-million dollar company. However, it has not been all plain sailing. In 1985 Jobs was forced to leave Apple after an a battle with John Sculley, whom Jobs had recruited as CEO from Pepsi in 1983. After this Apple’s fortunes plummeted and it appeared to be losing its direction. It was at this point in 1997 that Apple turned back to Jobs for leadership.

Jobs made drastic and far-reaching changes to the senior team at Apple and then made a radical decision to form a strategic alliance with the man whom Apple employees considered to be their main enemy – Bill Gates of Microsoft!  Only someone with as high a level of intuition could have the courage to make such a bold step. It certainly paid off as Apple’s fortunes began to turn.

Then in 2001 Jobs made another intuitive leadership decision that took Apple to a whole new level. While other computer manufacturers were looking at personal digital assistants, Jobs chose to focus on technological innovations with music.  So when Jobs was approached by Tony Fadell with an idea for an MP3 player and a music sales company he grabbed it even though several other companies could see no future in it. This project eventually led to the development of the iPod. Jobs was able to intuitively see the potential for the iPod years before anyone else could and gave its development a huge amount of time and attention. Such decisions in turn led to the iPhone and went on to make Apple at the time of Jobs death in October 2011 the most successful company in the world.

In many ways Jobs illustrates qualities of level 5 leadership that we have talked about here.

I conclude with John Maxwell’s summary of this:

“Jobs story is a reminder that leadership is really more art than science. The principles of leadership are constant, but the application changes with every leader and every situation. That’s why it requires intuition. Without it leaders are blindsided, and that’s one of the worst things that can happen to a leader. If you want to lead long, lead well, and stay ahead of others, you’ve got to obey the Law of Intuition.”

So how about you?

What do these examples and thoughts say to you about the Law of intuition? It would be great to have your comments and thoughts below.