Over the holidays I had the opportunity to catch up with some old friends and colleagues.  We talked about everything and anything from retirement travel plans to pursuing a second career.  A comment, made by a friend who is now embracing that new career challenge, stuck with me, “You have to go with your instinct. You will feel what is right for you!” 

When was the last time you went with your instinct or intuition?  Kouzes (Learning Leadership)  tells us that leadership is learned and that authentic leadership flows from the inside out.  It is guided by a process of self-discovery and  knowledge of who you truly are.  It would seem then, that it is only after we understand our genuine (authentic ?) selves, can we use our “ instincts” to guide our decisions and many of the everyday behaviors we pursue.

I read two pieces that are reflective of these ideas.  Connson Chou Locke writing in the HBR encourages us to be cautious when using intuition as the basis for judgement, When its Safe to Rely on Intuition (and When it’s Not). Sometimes the abundance of data and information available, combined with the need to make decisions quickly and accurately prohibit a long detailed analysis of every possibility.  Here, intuition can be helpful,  but only under certain conditions.

A second article considered what appears to be the, “instinctive behaviors” pursued by many leaders. The author, Jeff Haden, makes an important point that reflects Jim Kouzes’ thoughts, “While some are born with an aptitude for leadership, truly outstanding leaders are made……they learn how to make quick decisions. They learn to work with different personalities. They learn to nurture, motivate, and inspire.” His piece, “The 8 Instinctive Habits of Remarkable Leaders” shares behaviors in which we can each engage daily with those on our team.