5 Characteristics of Intuitive Leaders

I recently re-read Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman and reflected on the many decisions I make as a school leader that are based on intuition. Don’t misunderstand me. I use reliable “evidence” for most critical decisions, and in a few instances,have been reluctantly stuck in the “paralysis by analysis” mode. I trust my intuition and am continuing to learn and grow with it.

Intuitive Leaders have a greater awareness of their surroundings, circumstances, events and other peoples ideas. Leadership intuition is a developed skill. Intuition is a gathering of information and experience. Many people might view this as a “feeling” or a “hunch”. I believe it’s–experience reapplied. This is especially important with our experiences with people. We are taught to believe that if we can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. In most cases, human behavior cannot be measured, even though it IS real. Our leadership intuition grows when we observe people’s behavior, synthesize it and reapply it!

  1. Intuitive leaders risk trusting their hunches. They value their experiences.
  2. Intuitive leaders use holistic thinking. Their experiences have taught them to see past an isolated case, but the Big Picture.
  3. Intuitive leaders are most successful in dealing with the unexpected and the unpredictable. The unexpected happens on a weekly basis with school leaders.
  4. Intuitive leaders often ask themselves, “Does it feel right”. They assess, synthesize and apply. Isn’t this what we want our students to learn?
  5. Intuitive leaders understand that intuition is natural AND learnable.
What are your thoughts?

4 thoughts on “5 Characteristics of Intuitive Leaders

  1. Sorry I’m a bit late; although I’ve just come across this post, I still have to comment on it because I appreciate it very much. I publish children’s books that teach academic vocabulary, and I think we can all agree on how important it is to have an expansive lexicon with which to be able to communicate; however, I recently had a conversation about how limiting it can be to rely solely on words as a means of expression. We transmit messages all the time, whether we want to or not, and it’s those who are most gifted in their abilities for intuition (which literally means “learning from within,” as I recently learned) who are best situated to receive these messages. Not only is it important as leaders to have this ability, it’s also important leaders (and educators) to recognize this ability in others, and to nurture it as we would a child’s creativity, mathematical reasoning, or – yes – his/her vocabulary.


  2. I was particularly drawn to your question, “Isn’t this what we want students to learn?” To me, that forces me to look at the hidden curriculum, and ask myself if I want the students to learn to behave the way the school staff is behaving. That really makes me stop and reflect. Is the behavior of the staff at my school the behavior we want the children to imitate? If we want the students to treat each other fairly and respectfully, we should be modeling this behavior, even when students are misbehaving. As a former and hopefully future administrator (I moved….long story) I want the students to learn that, even in the face of a disrespectful person, they can and should conduct themselves with dignity and civility. That’s a life lesson that we can teach them 8 hours a day for 180 days a year that will benefit them no matter what they choose to become as adults!!!! Some of it has to stick!


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