The Power of Intuition

By Eyal Ben-Shir on July 25, 2016


On a daily basis, we all need to make decisions about complex, vague and fuzzy issues. Such ambiguous matters may be related to our personal lives, careers, new opportunities and innovative options or interpersonal relationships, where clear facts and rules are simply not available. The challenges we face thus cannot always be approached by logically figuring things out. We have to take a leap of faith by relying on our gut feel or intuition.

Intuition comes from the Latin word intueri which means “to look inside” or “to contemplate”. Some say intuition is the catalyst for change in human culture, industry and civilisation. Intuition can be used to screen out clutter, identify the dynamics of situations and clarify vagueness when tackling new situations. It can also assist one in recognising and predicting others’ behaviours and intentions.

Intuition versus assumption

The only real valuable thing is intuition” Albert Einstein

Intuition is crucial in helping us navigate through the complexities in our lives. Pioneers and great leaders have thus frequently emphasised the value of trusting one’s intuition.

However, those who actively practice intuition, know that intuition and assumption are poles apart. Deliberate practice is required to learn to effectively discern between the two. The differences seem subtle but have vastly different outcomes. One needs to develop a feel for when an insight merely results from (a) quick closure perhaps driven by an emotional need for certainty, or whether an insight has (b) quietly emerged from a synthesis of potentialities or possibilities at a subconscious level. The latter refers to intuition, and it requires depth of interest, a sense of being in flow, as well as stillness.

Leadership and intuition

It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover” Henri Poincare

A 2015 article in Forbes Magazine reported that the amount and need for intuition required by leaders seem to depend on the amount of ambiguity they are dealing with, in other words, complex and rapidly changing decision-making environments. It was found that professionals such as accountants and engineers, who initially apply themselves in a very analytical manner, tend to become more intuitive as they progress into leadership roles.

Most educational disciplines thus encourage learners to rely on logic as opposed to gut feel. However, once a certain degree of logical rigour has been mastered, the emphasis should ideally shift towards an awareness of subtle intuitive insights. If not, a person may stagnate in terms of cognitive and consciousness development. Rationality and logic are best suited to the tangible issues of our physical world. To deal with ambiguous, nonconsequential, intangible and metaphysical issues, we need to develop more advanced intuitive capabilities.

Within the leadership domain, intuition can equip the decision maker to spot opportunities and pick up on emerging patterns and trends that elude others. It allows one to pick up on complex dynamics of a subtle nature such as collective needs and attitudes. Intuition can thus be regarded as an essential leadership skill, the development of which warrants focus and attention.

How do we measure intuition?

All human knowledge thus begins with intuitions, proceeds thence to concepts, and ends with ideas.” Immanuel Kant

Realising the importance of cognition and consciousness, Cognadev has over the past three decades invested in the development of assessment tools to access, measure and develop cognitive, or intuitive, capabilities. Included are the Cognitive Process Profile (CPP) which measures the judgement capability and intuitive insight of adults in the work environment. The Learning Orientation Index (LOI) has been developed to assess various aspects of cognitive functioning of school and university leavers or Millennials and Generation Y. These cognitive assessment tools are not merely IQ tests aimed at analytical thinking in structured environments. The CPP and LOI are simulation exercises that present test candidates with unfamiliar tasks and which externalise and track thinking processes according to thousands of measurement points. The way in which a person deals with complex and vague information is therefore measured.

In addition, Cognadev offers the Value Orientations (VO) tool which assesses a person’s level of consciousness or awareness, otherwise referred to as worldview, perceptual orientation or decision-making framework.

Should you be interested in understanding and harnessing the cognitive and intuitive capabilities of yourself and the people you are managing, please contact Cognadev to find out more about our assessment and development solutions.

Call us on +27 11 884 0878