The 8th law of leadership according to John Maxwell is the law of intuition. This says that leaders evaluate everything with a leadership bias. By intuition we mean an ability to read circumstances or people that goes beyond what is immediately obvious. That is more of an art form than a science or technical ability. It is hard to describe or articulate, but you know it when you see it or experience it.

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Not everyone is intuitive in the area of leadership, but everyone does possess intuition in their area of strength or giftedness. When we are intuitive we are able to come to accurate decisions or interpretations by seeing beyond the facts or circumstances as they are presented to us. It is more than being in the right place at the right time. There is the additional factor of having the right awareness, expressed through  a feeling in the gut or maybe as a strong hunch.


One person goes to a field and all he or she sees is a field with cows and grass. Another sees the same field and can see huge potential for farming or a building or a play area.

A dramatic example of this is given in Malcolm Galdwell’s book, “Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking.”  In the first chapter of the book he gives the example of a marble statue that was purchased by the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1983 for $10 million, purported to be from the 6th century BC. However, another group of art experts were in a single 2 second glance able to understand more about the essence of the statue than the team at the Getty Museum were able to understand after 14 months of painstaking research. Why did the experts from the museum not spot the fake? Gladwell’s reasoning is that for one reason or another, those experts thwarted and suppressed their intuitive feelings.

One humorous example of where I was not at all intuitive goes back to the early time of my marriage. We had invited friends over to our house for dinner. After the meal our guests asked if they could help with the washing up. Being a very what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person, I took what was said very much at face value and invited them to come right into the kitchen to help us! My wife who is much more intuitive about these things than me, cringed and had to later on tell me that I had got it all wrong. Just because people say something does not necessarily mean that they want to do what they say!

On one level intuition is mysterious, even mystical. It can also involve the subconscious mind that can rapidly process large volumes of data and information around us as well as from our past and things we have read and heard.

A personal development teacher has even stated that prayer is when we talk to God, while intuition is when God talks to us. Although I am not sure I entirely agree,  I would say that we all have had flashes of insight or revelation that have been so profound or dramatic that we find it hard to explain or rationally understand how they happened.

Without going into all the details, one dramatic example for me was shortly after meeting my future wife, I had a strong sense that I would marry her. It was not to be for another six years and in the intervening period, there were lots of times when it seemed it was the last thing in the world that would ever happen. But it came to pass!  On one level maybe the strong sense I had was the emotions of a young man’s wishful thinking, but the strong intuitive sense I had then is even to this day hard to explain.

I also talk about another experience where I had to rely on my intuition in the post entitled 7 Lessons from a Passport.

These are some of my intuitive (!) thoughts on intuition.

How about you? It would be great to have your thoughts and suggestions below