Intuition and Instinct: Qualities That Can Help Make You a Better Manager

“Often you have to rely on intuition.” Bill Gates

Whether you call it a hunch, a gut reaction, or just a feeling, intuition is real and can be harnessed to increase your ability to influence and transmit charisma.

Intuition helps you read and understand people in an instant. Intuition is a combination of your feelings, your wisdom, and your experience. People who are able to distinguish between random thoughts and intuition are more successful in life and in business.

CEOs of large corporations, for example, have access to all the research they need to make sound, educated decisions. Yet the successful ones will admit that ultimately they have to follow their heart and use personal intuition.

When we pay attention to our instincts, we have the ability to read people from facial expressions, gestures, or tone of voice. This ability comes from our early programming as humans to be able to meet others and instantly decide whether they are friend or foe.

Intuition: a skill you can learn and master

Those with the ability to follow their intuition correctly were able to sense danger or make a new friend. Nowadays, when we meet someone, we usually have categorized them within the first 30 seconds. We have decided whether we like or dislike the person; this judgment comes from our intuition.

Of course, research is important. You should spend time gathering and analyzing information, but you can keep gathering information for the rest of your life. At some point you will have to make a decision, and you should let your intuition guide you. This will take a little faith and a little practice. Learn to stretch yourself. Don’t limit yourself to the facts or to the opinions of other people. You have to learn to follow your heart and tap into your priceless intuition.

Some of us are afraid to talk about intuition because it is so hard to explain. Let me assure you that successful people use it every day. They don’t always openly talk about it, but they are using it because intuition is more valuable than you realize.

They use it to enhance their creativity, charisma, and ability to connect with others. Sure, super analytical people tend to shoot down intuition as “woo-woo” concept or just a myth, but it is a skill you can learn and master. Not understanding how something works does not mean that it doesn’t work.

Intuition expands our ability to tap into our previous experience, our knowledge, and our stored memories. We might not remember what memories or experience we are drawing on, but something we already have learned is expressed as a gut feeling.

What blocks us from following our intuition?

The main obstacle that blocks us from following our intuition is convincing ourselves that it works and that it should be taken seriously. It might manifest as an impulse, an urge, or even an inner voice. We are always receiving information through our intuition. We just need to listen.

How does your intuition talk to you? What are you listening for? Start listening, and you will save yourself a lot of time, energy, and money.

Our instincts can evaluate our previous experiences, sense the emotions of the moment, and rely on past knowledge. As you practice using your intuition, new and inspiring ideas will instinctively arise on their own. You will be able to solve problems faster. Learn to focus and concentrate; this type of focus will nurture and augment your new found inner strength and instinct. Your logical mind will fight you on these new thoughts and ideas, but eventually your intuition will win.

Thoughts also diminish your ability to listen to your intuition. Part of harnessing your intuition is your ability to control your thoughts.

Highly influential and charismatic people have mastered the ability to control and direct their thoughts. They have the ability to focus more on positive thoughts than on negative ones. Finding your inner voice and your intuition gives you the courage, the confidence, and the insight to do or face anything.

A link between success and sound, quick decisions

Take a realistic look at your life right now. Are you where you want to be? Where you are is the sum total of your thoughts over the course of a lifetime. Your thoughts program your subconscious mind, which helps you use your intuition. Control of your thoughts might come in an instant, or it might take a few days, weeks, or even longer.

Nevertheless, your subconscious mind will continue working on a solution. Charismatic people work on this mental training every day, while most people ignore the great potential — thinking they’ve heard it all before.

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We have all heard about the power of intuition. There is a direct correlation between your ability to make sound quick decisions and your success. Our blind spot is that we second-guess ourselves or that we don’t even try to listen to our instincts.

The first challenge is that perhaps we have tried listening to our instincts a few times, but it did not work for us; so we become a little gun-shy. Because it didn’t work once, we think that it will never work. The second challenge is that intuition sounds a little hokey. We ask ourselves, “Can it really be that easy?” Or we think it works for other people, but not for us. Believe me, intuition works and is part of your core foundation of charisma.

4 steps to help tune into your instincts

Four steps will help you tune into your inner voice and your instincts:

  1. Take time to be alone with your thoughts. Clear your mind, and learn to focus on the moment so that external noise and internal dialog don’t drown out your inner voice.
  2. Watch your attitude. Attitude comes from your expectations. Learn to expect with confidence that your intuition will lead and guide you to the right decisions.
  3. Listen and comply. When you get that feeling, instinct, or impulse, act on it. You might not understand it, but follow the voice and learn how it communicates with you.
  4. Practice and perfect. Learning to master your intuition will take time, energy, and practice. Start with the small things and build up the use of your intuition.

Walt Disney’s instinct and intuition

Walt Disney had the insight and intuition to build Disneyland. He had a gut feeling that a unique amusement park based on his company’s creations would appeal to both children and adults. Along the way were thousands of reasons to quit and hundreds of people who told him to give up, but he followed his instinct and listened to his internal voice, not to the criticisms of others.

Disneyland was a resounding success and led to other Disney amusement parks, such as Disney World. Later on, Disney was driven and inspired to build EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), a park dedicated to international culture and technological innovation. Everyone told him not to do it, reciting the long list of reasons why it was not a good idea (just as people said about Disneyland).

But he had the dream, he felt it was the right thing to do, and he had the courage and willpower to pursue it. Disney could have taken the easy route and given in to his critics, but his intuition told him to keep going — and he did.

The easiest way to master intuition is to choose a time during the day (morning is usually the best) to think about and ponder your biggest challenges. Learn to listen to your thoughts, follow your instinct, and solve your challenge.

As you obtain more experience and learn to listen to your intuition and trust your instinct, the process will become easier and feel more natural to you. Keep an open mind and practice these skills. Find the process and techniques that work best for you. Learn from the simple answers for which you can receive immediate feedback and know how well the process is working.

Track your results, practice today, and fine-tune your ability to listen to your intuition.

Excerpted from The Laws of Charisma: How to Captivate, Inspire, and Influence for Maximum Success by Kurt Morternsen. Copyright © 2011 Kurt Morternsen. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Kurt W. Mortensen is one of America’s leading authorities on persuasion, motivation and influence. A highly sought after consultant, trainer, seminar leader and speaker, he is the author of "Maximum Influence" and "Persuasion IQ." Contact him through his website at