Definition: What is Intuitive Intelligence?

How many times do we see a business leader make a decision without a lot of data, seemingly without deliberation, and make the right call?

Not very often, in the “western” world.

But every so often we encounter that rare leader who makes impossible decisions and, time and again, gets it right. This is not an accident, we tell ourselves, as we look for clues to try to understand this phenomenon we are witnessing.

What we are experiencing is Intuitive Intelligence in action.

Intuitive Intelligence lies beyond the boundaries of science and analytics. It bridges the realms of reality and imagination, reason and instinct, material and spiritual dimensions of human existence. Intuitive Intelligence is non-linear, a key skill for success in the new economy, an economy driven by constant disruption and chaos.

Intuitive Intelligence
is defined as the combination of 4 abilities:

–  The ability to think holistically

–  The ability to think paradoxically

–  The ability to listen and connect to oneself and others

–  The ability to lead by influence rather than design


Business is not about money. It’s not even about shareholder value (ask Jack Welch!).

Business is about servicing our communities and allowing people to express their talents and genius for the betterment of our society.

Money is one very necessary component of business and it keeps the human engine going but it is not the engine.

Business success is achieved through the power of human creativity and organization and depends on individuals – people – complex beings in relationship with an unpredictable environment called nature. No human experience can be fully represented by a mathematical equation (ask artificial intelligence experts!) and the unpredictability of nature cannot be comprehended, let alone mastered.

Yet we realized only recently that besides the financial bottom line there should be other criteria to set business goals and measure the results of human organizations. The business impact on the surrounding ecosystems and its influence on humans are factors rarely placed at the center of corporate strategy.  Intuitive Intelligence™ helps us move from a conservative fragmented business approach that focuses on financial results as the ultimate goal, to a wholesome business view where people, society and natural ecosystems are all part of the  picture, with money seen as only simply a resource, a means to an end. All aspects of business are inseparably taken into account as a whole for maximum efficiency and sustainability.


As much as business can be taught, it is still a rather random process similar in this to the creative process of life. Many leaders focus on economic results believing that it is the shortest way to achieve their goals. The paradox is that empowering people and relationships are the key to better financial results. In 2004 neuroscience was finally able to establish a fact known for millennia by ancient civilizations: the human mind is more unconscious than it is conscious. For that matter, engaging the unconscious in people is more effective than focusing on the conscious part of their mind. This is the paradoxical thought process.  As psychologist David G. Myer puts it: “under the surface lies a lot of intelligence above a lot of delusion.”


In order to be in touch with the unconscious aspect of our lives we need to pay attention to subtle details and to our emotions, which are indicative of our perceptions, whether conscious or unconscious. Our emotions fashion our thoughts, which lead to our actions; our actions turn into habits that finally shape our character. And as we know, character is essential to leadership. A charismatic leader will communicate without necessarily taking in the other person’s emotions, perceptions and environment and will attract dedicated followers; a leader who demonstrates self-awareness and manifests empathy will empower and inspire people with character who are more likely to take risk and think autonomously – two attitudes well needed to succeed in times of radical change.

This kind of sensitivity operates at a fundamental level of equality between individuals and induces trust, respect, and interdependence three necessary factors to foster creativity and lead a culture of high performance. Moreover when a leader is able to listen to others and oneself with such a sensitivity he or she takes in all sorts of creative information about consumers and their environment, about an industry and its trends.


Innovation is one of the most critical factors for success in today global economy. It relies on systems and processes, yet it depends even more on the creativity of people and corporate cultures.  Creativity finds its inspiration beyond the motivation of financial gain or economic achievement. It stems from dreams and ideals and pertains more to utopia than pragmatism.

Organizations seeking innovation cannot rely only on a pragmatic leadership model rooted in a purely economic approach (leadership by design).  Such a leadership model sets goals and objectives, covers budgets and schedules and relies on the alignment of teams to execute the corporate vision. Leadership by influence, however, is on the opposite side of the spectrum. It perceives any human organization as a living interconnected web and the relationship with consumers as a dynamic collaborative system. And for that matter it focuses on facilitating and guiding the natural emergence of creativity to reach innovative business solutions. It puts the emphasis on engaging and influencing teams and consumers rather than motivating and controlling them. It conveys a strong sense of meaning within visions and goals to reach that place in each one of us where creativity thrives and can be awakened.  In practical terms, a leader guided by intuitive intelligence ensures that all systems and processes are in the service of the human factor and its ecosystem rather than an isolated attempt to rationalize business and reach financial goals. He or she inspires uniquely magnetic organizations fired up with enthusiasm and a strong sense of possibility. In this way, leading with intuitive intelligence creates virtuous circles and enables teams to believe, manifest autonomy, and succeed.

Intuitive Intelligence is a powerful leadership attribute. It is not a tool to devise the future, but an instrument that points our attention towards the invisible. Intuitive Intelligence brings us closer to understand the transformative and creative nature of our organizations as well as their interdependence with their environments. It is a means to take in unexpected information or paradoxical data and to feed our analytical and rational thinking with subtle creative perceptions. In this way intuitive intelligence bridges the rational and the irrational realms, the conscious and unconscious dimensions, the inner and the outer, the material and immaterial aspects of any business and allows for truly evolutionary leadership.

In our next post we’ll introduce a new tool to help foster Intuitive Intelligence, both in organizations and individuals: The Intuitive Compass™.

4 thoughts on “Definition: What is Intuitive Intelligence?

  1. Colin Anderberg

    Just wow. First time visiting the site and I honestly just enjoyed and appriciated the information at hand. Late night reading and considering the fact I’ll be studying business administration in a few months and having always had as a desire to have the knowledge, confidence to one day be a leader of some sort- reading about the difference psychological elements that form leaders as well as visions for corporations to live by was indeed fascinating! I’ll definelty be coming back for more knowledge. Cheers Guys

  2. Frank Barkman

    Good concise discussion of intuitive intelligence, but I think there is more to say about intuitive thought that has not yet been documented. What level of intelligence must lie just below our conscious mind? Has anyone out there been working on ways to measure the sub-conscious mind’s intelligence? Is it different than the conscious, it seems like it must be. But how to test, identify, use or measure this level of IQ? And how to best use, recruit, and reap benefits from this mind?


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