Intuitive Insight

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The third level of insight is intuitive. Intuition is the ability to detect

dynamics and information that lie just below the surface of a

Defining the Space for Coaching 23

situation.We use our intuition when we follow our hunches, detect

patterns, and make decisions without having all of the information

that we might like. As the complexity and speed of our world

increases, intuition becomes an increasingly important component

of our decision making.More and more, leaders are making choices

based on an integration of logical, linear information and their best

intuitive interpretation of a situation.

For example, on the surface, Linda’s leadership team seemed to

be moving forward with reorganizing the department. Few overt

disagreements took place in team meetings and progress was being

made, although it seemed to slow down as some of the bigger decisions

needed to be made. Linda had a feeling that something was

off, and she decided to talk with her coach about this in their next

coaching session.

Linda’s coach asked her to describe what she had noticed about

how the team was working. Linda recounted that John and Ellen had

become quiet, rarely participating fully in the team discussions, even

when Linda invited their comments. They were both fairly quiet

people, but this was more than just being quiet.Her coach asked her

what her intuition suggested about this dynamic. Linda had a hunch

that John and Ellen were withdrawing from the team because they

felt threatened by the changes being made. Linda decided to have

open conversations with all of her team members in their biweekly

one-on-one meetings to better understand how her direct reports

felt about the changes being made. Through these conversations,

Linda learned that Ellen and John felt that they were getting railroaded

by Linda and other team members into making changes that

they believed were not always in the best interest of their people.

As a result of these conversations, Linda was able to construct a

more inclusive change management process, and she continued to

monitor the team using tangible measures and intuitively observing

on several levels how the team was working together.

Linda had some evidence that her team was not operating at top

form, but her intuition, her sense that something was off, led her to

dig deeper to better understand what was happening with her team.

The more leaders trust their own intuitive knowing, the sooner they

are able to take action when situations are just beginning to derail,

rather than waiting for a full-blown catastrophe.

Inspirational Insight

Intuition leads naturally to inspiration. Inspirational insight occurs

when all the pieces come together and something is seen in an

entirely new light. The person who has the inspiration experiences

a kind of aha moment when a new possibility is realized. Intuition

tends to show up in pieces, such as knowing that an approach isn’t

likely to work or someone is capable of something, even if they have

never done it before. For some people inspirational insight shows

up like a seed of an idea of that grows over time, for others it arrives

more fully formed. However it happens, inspiration takes the leader

in a new direction, expanding the leader and the organization in

some material way.

Jeff was an executive with a large health care organization. Several

experiences had plunged Jeff somewhat unexpectedly into the world

of alternative medicine. His sister had been unable to find satisfactory

traditional medical care for a chronic condition and had been

successfully working with a homeopathic doctor to manage her

health. At first, Jeff was somewhat uncomfortable with his sister’s

choice; however, as her condition improved, he became convinced

of the benefit of this alternative form of care. At his coach’s suggestion,

Jeff began to practice yoga and meditation as a way of getting

back into shape and helping to manage his stress. He was surprised

at the benefits he received from these practices. Through conversations

with people he met in his yoga class, he became aware of other

healing methodologies with which he had no experience.

While taking a walk one day, Jeff was mulling these ideas over

in his mind and found himself wondering about the possibility of

adding an alternative care clinic to his health care organization. Jeff

brought his idea into his coaching sessions and worked with his

coach to create a path forward. He began to research different

possibilities and began talking with some of his peers about what he

was learning. It was a long row to hoe, but eventually Jeff built a

coalition of supporters in his organization and the community.With

guidance from his coach, Jeff used his experience to hone his

leadership and influencing skills and move the project forward.

If someone had told Jeff before all of this happened that he would

be championing an alternative health care clinic, he never would

have believed them. Inspiration is often the culmination of insights

gained from a wide variety of experiences. Inspirational insight

creates a real step change for the leaders with the courage to put their

ideas into action and the organizations in which they work.