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Friday, 18 March 2011

Friday Guest Blog: Why intuition is more smart skill than soft, in today’s business climate

By Nick Kettles, Marketing Director, CTI (The Coaches Training Institute), UK

Even today when the idea of Emotional Intelligence is common parlance, the default setting for business is that decisions must be based on hard facts, derived from clearly set research criteria and benchmarks.

At best the role of gut feeling, or intuition, and other so-called soft skills, will be an auxiliary one, and only accepted as a starting point for collecting the evidence required to underwrite the decision making process.

After all this is how things have always been done, haven’t they? Moving forward by making incremental improvements that follow either the industry standard or the course set by a business’ founder?

But what is available to businesses when intuition is honoured and acted on, without delay? Perhaps in a pressing situation which doesn’t allow for comprehensive research, and where incremental improvement just won’t do? Like a financial crash and recession which few foresaw, or at least, failed to make provision for?

Sadly, the use of the term ‘soft skill’ to describe less linear, deductive processes, suggest that the skill in question, is not as robust or as reliable, as other business skills. Yet, for businesses facing the difficulty of recession, we must be willing to look to a wider set of variables, than hard analysis alone, if we are to not just weather the storm, but powerfully respond in creating new markets and innovating products that meet the current needs of society.

As any artist or inventor will tell you, the creative process begins with a hunch, a certain curiosity, or gut feeling – a willingness to feel and listen to our inner compass - which when acted on, reveals new avenues and pathways of inquiry and discovery.

Successful, business people know this well and perhaps are happy to let it be their secret, competitive edge. For example, in his book “Losing My Virginity” Richard Branson, explains his Midas touch as such: “Some of the best ideas come out of the blue,’ he says. ‘You (just) have to keep an open mind to see their virtue.”

The first step in leveraging intuition in the business place is a shift in perspective about how we view employees as more than information processors.
Instead we need to be willing to see them as whole people, with a unique perspective to offer: where intellectual capacity and emotional intelligence are given equal standing as a legitimate source of ‘business information’ which potentially can increase visibility and inform new direction.

Such a culture shift is unlikely to happen overnight, especially in larger organisations, in which business processes have reduced employees to the role they play in the system, and only that, and yet the acquisition of soft (smart) skills, by middle managers, themselves can begin to seed a new awareness in their cohorts.

Amongst many models which encourage improved emotional intelligence, Co-active Coaching is perhaps unique in placing intuition at the heart of our ability to both have more creative conversations, and, visualise a better, more fulfilling future.
What’s more, once acquired, intuition is a renewable resource: it’s cheap (we only have to learn how to empower it); and potentially, can yield greater results in a shorter period of time.

Soft skill or smart skill? What’s your intuition tell you?

CTI offers Co-active Coaching training courses for executives, managers and new career seekers, in Manchester and London, throughout the year. For their forthcoming 2.5 day Introduction to Co-Active Coaching at Salford Quays, Manchester, (March 11-13, or May 13-15), CTI UK are offering the course at £275 (+VAT) which represents £100 off the normal price of £375 (+VAT).

For more information call Judy Rich on 0845 299 8199, or, or visit

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