For leaders only: Gut or intuition

For leaders only: Gut or intuition

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I want to thank one of the readers of this column, Mrs Titilayo Sulaimon from London who gave me a detailed expository on poor parenting as the foundation for the lousy behaviour of some leaders in the workplace and in our society. I will write on leadership at home in one of the future editions.

Another response was on my position that leaders should always reward gut. I love people who show gut. Leaders who trained more leaders start by identifying people with the gut for doing the right thing devoid of self-seeking. Bashir Mohammed, want to know the difference between gut and intuition. My answer is from leadership perspective. I see everything with the eyes of leadership; that is why I coach and train people to think, act, be and behave like leaders in their lives and engagement with business organisations.

Gut is courage and fortitude. I have defined conformity as the opposite of courage. Real leaders see people who exude gut as a diamond among many because most people will instead behave in a way that conforms to expectations. I would mentor a person with gut than go for millions of people that conform to the norms for fear of criticism or losing out of favour or seen as rebels. The journey to leadership requires thinking out of the box and with the gut to make the difference.

Intuition is direct perception or quick insight independent of the reasoning process. It sees things in new ways given unavailable information or unexpected scenario which make the existing reasoning process inaccurate.

In world-class organisations and learning environment, leaders exhibit intuition while subordinates show gut. It is expected that sustainable institutions have processes and procedures which are expected to be followed. Gut is the courage to push or do things within the limit of the established framework without the authority to change the laid down process or procedure. Intuition, on the other hand, is the ability of decision makers to use the power and the position of office to do things to correct the flaws within an established process or procedure. In summary, gut is shown by people with no status or power to invoke change while intuition, on the other hand, is for people with the authority to make changes. Gut is more commonly than intuition. Let me fortify my explanation with the story of Adetayo, one of the most cerebral personalities I know.

 

Daniel Adetayo was an assistant manager in one of the banks. He is knowledgeable with relevant professional qualifications but restless and unsatisfied with his career progression. He took the lane less travelled by opting to join a federal university teaching hospital as the chief accountant. He changed his employment for an offer with a 60% reduction in his annual salary. His thinking was to be in a leadership position with influence and power to guide people better than the opportunity at the bank and rise to the position of director of finance in the teaching hospital.

Four months after his resumption at the teaching hospital, Daniel is out looking for a return to the banking industry. Aside the financial loss, he couldn’t cope with the environment where things are done with less regard to the ethics of his profession. He was made the chief accountant as promised but not the number one person in the department. The previous chief accountant who was indicted and suspended for fraudulent dealings lobbied and was recalled back as the head of the department. Daniel was left wondering how to make the changes he planned with a leader who has the penchant for fraud.

He attended interviews with two banks. At one of the banks, the head of the audit, Adanma told him he would be considered if he can take the level of a banking officer considering his current salary at the federal hospital. She was following a norm that you cannot employ someone to a grade with a massive difference in salary. So, Adetayo was offered the post of a banking officer which was two levels lower than the level of an assistant manager he was four months earlier. Adanma used the current salary as the only basis to qualify Tayo’s quest to return to the banking industry. She was a leader with no intuition in the given case. Intuition would have been to consider Daniel’s last salary in his previous bank and make a judgement based on his level of experience and what he can offer as a new hire. Daniel rejected her offer on the spot.

At the second interview, the bank had a long process for employing people. Adetayo met five officers of the bank during the interview including two executive directors. He was recommended for the level of an assistant manager, the same level he was four months ago and scheduled to meet the managing director of the bank. At the brief chat, the bank’s chief executive officer found him intelligent and approved the grade of a deputy manager for him. His reason was that he quit the industry just for four months to take a political appointment and possesses the relevant requirement to be a deputy manager in any bank.

What the brilliant CEO did was the use of intuition to correct the flaws of the established norm that people should be employed at a lower grade when they are making a return based on their current salary without given consideration to their level of experience or perceived competence at the interview session. On the assumption that was using pay alone as the basis is the industry standard, the officers in the second bank, exude gut by recommending Tayo for the grade of an assistant manager in the first place and got the ratification of the CEO. When the fact says otherwise, intuition is the tool of the game-changing leaders to make impact on the system and the people.

The difference between gut and intuition is that gut is the foundation for intuition. Gut is shown by people who feel the need to correct a flaw in the current pattern of reasoning but are not in the position to evoke a change. Leadership intuition is the use of position and power to advance gut feeling in the interest of the organisation by invoking positive changes to the existing process and procedure.

A classic example of the combination of leadership gut and intuition was the creation of new thirty-seven Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 2003. There were twenty recognized local governments in Lagos state before the creation of the new LCDAs for active development and administration using the same resources given to the existing twenty local governments. The decision which led to the withholding of the state’s revenue allocation and the associated pains prompted the thinking behind the drive for the increase in the Internally Generated Revenue of the state.  Lagos as a state is benefitting from the gut and intuition of one of the former governors who laid the foundation for others to thrive.

Conclusively, the essence of leadership intuition is to benefit the system, not the leaders. In a system where leaders benefit and the followers do not, showing gut is an assault on leadership. The leaders who never want to forfeit what they are benefitting will resist any gut leading to changes that could affect their privileges. Intuition is, therefore, a leadership tool for correcting what is outdated in the system for the benefit of the people.

 

Babs Olugbemi

 

Babs Olugbemi FCCA, the Chief Responsibility Officer at Mentoras Leadership Limited and Founder, the Positive Growth Africa. He can be reached on [email protected] or 08025489396.

 



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