8: The Law of Intuition
The author suggests that the law of intuition is "probably the mot difficult to understand," (EN: A sign that he is struggling to find a way to explain it) and speaks in vague terms about "instinct and other intangible factors."
Great leaders can see things others can't, make changes, and move forward before others know what's happening. It's the ability to read a situation and react very quickly, which comes from natural ability and learned skills.
The Intangibles of Leadership
A list of intangibles is provided:
- Situations - Leaders notice things that seem to elude others. At times, they can "just feel" that something is going wrong, and identify what the cause is and what to do about it.
- Trends - One of the details that leaders notice is when things are headed in a given direction, giving them the sense of where they will be in future unless action is taken; they also notice when something that's going well starts to take a turn for the worse.
- Resources - Leaders see beyond their own abilities, particularly to the abilities of others under their command, and assess possibilities based on more than just their personal power.
- People - aside of those people who are the most important of a leader's resources, a leader can sense the intentions of others: what competitors, allies, etc. want to achieve and what they fear.
- Yourself - Good leaders develop the ability to assess themselves: skills, strengths, weaknesses, and state of mind. They do so objectively and realistically.
The value of these intangibles is that leaders who grasp them ar better leaders than those who do not: they accomplish results, avoid obstacles, and garner a level of faith than other leaders.
Knowledge and training can help, but consider this: every year, over a thousand new cadets graduate from West Point military academy, and in its history, there have been over 50,000 leaders trained at that institution. They receive identical preparation, but not all of them have distinguished military careers, and a very few have become legendary generals.
Types of Leadership Intuition
The author asserts that "just about everyone is capable of developing a degree of leadership intuition" - and then contrasts nature and nurture:
"Some people are born with exceptional leadership gifts," the author writers. Their intuition is an instinctive ability, and even as children you can see that they act as leader: on they playground, they direct and others follow; in the classroom, they speak and others listen.
Others must nurture and develop their leadership ability: they learn the ability to think like a leader, even though they are not naturally inclined to do so, and eventually, leadership thinking becomes their mode.
However, the author does admit that he has occasionally run across people who don't seem to have any natural inclination to lead, and do not show interest in developing leadership skills. Such people doom themselves to being followers.
(EN: The qualification that they "do not show interest" is important. What makes me most uncomfortable with this chapter is the author's inability to explain the idea of intuition, or suggest how it can be learned, leading to the conclusion of "you got it or you don't," with which I'm not inclined to agree.)
Ultimately, "leadership is really more art than science": while the principles and practices of the leader are known, they are applied in situations where the facts are not known or knowable, obstacles arise, and the landscape changes. As such, a leader must rely heavily on his intuition.