There is often a debate between the logical and intuitive sides of our brain. And more pointedly, the question of which is the best place to make strategic decisions from? I say both!
The following is the second of a four-part series on the topic of intuition and leadership, and more specifically the importance of setting a plan, as well as knowing when to veer from it. Part two focuses on striking the right balance.
If you read part one, you’ve just written down your business vision for 2018 and even broken it down into priorities and action steps. You even went so far as to assign accountabilities to appropriate staff, deadlines, and feedback loops so that you can be assured your plan will be executed on.
Perfect. Now you can sit back and watch the movie play out, right? Well, we all know the answer to that one. As the famous quote from General Dwight D. Eisenhower goes, “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
In other words, once you are in the heat of the battle, with all of the unexpected variables you didn’t know you would have to face, you need to know when to trust your gut and follow the script, or abandon the plan on paper, in order to be an adaptive and effective leader.
Imagine you just reviewed your budget for the year and already invested in two new salespeople, but a week later, lost a key client that you were way too dependent on. Or you approved your new website and SEO strategy, and then Google just changed their algorithms.
If we stick to our plan to the “T”—even when real-time data is telling us a different story—we need to be able to adapt. Sometimes this take swallowing our ego and pride, and be willing to pivot with new information. This is why developing a relationship with your intuition is so critical, as you can make adjustments on the fly as you are more in-tune with present-time feedback.
And the other side of Eisenhower’s quote is also essential: planning is indispensable. You can’t just go with your gut and not do your homework. Sometimes what we think is our intuition can actually be unconscious biases or assumptions that we want to believe in so much, that we get swept away by the moment.
I’ve seen business leaders dream incredibly big and inspire the whole boardroom with audacious targets for the coming year, and truly believing it was doable. Yet, moments of dissolution would occur due in part to not making the time for getting critical feedback from other key stakeholders, or breaking their vision down into bitesize action steps.
So, how do you find the balance of creating and committing to a plan, and then allowing yourself the flexibility and freedom to veer from it?
In part three next week, we’ll explore how to get in-touch with your intuition to sharpen your own judgment calls.