Gut Instinct or Structure – Which is Better?

We have all seen leaders from both sides of this debate…

Type 1 leaders go with gut instinct. They have a knack for “feeling” when something is right and when it is wrong. They can’t quite put a finger on how to describe what exactly they are looking for, but they sure know when they see it.

Type 2 leaders go with structure. They have a checklist which tells them exactly what they are looking for, and they follow that list to the letter. They can tell you precisely what they are looking for; they just aren’t sure exactly when they see it.

Which is better? Are you compelled to follow the “gut instinct” leader who manages by emotion even if it’s not entirely clear to where you are being led? Or are you compelled to follow the “structured” leader who displays plenty of logic but doesn’t always make the emotional connection? If you are looking to hire a leader for your organization, which type of leader do you prefer to bring on board?

Gut instinct is really the product of all experiences one has had and the lessons one has learned. Those experiences and lessons are all wrapped up in our brains in a mesh of inter-connected synapses. Some connections are clear, but many are not. They exist in our minds in some subconcsious way that we can’t easily explain. For example, we may feel that a candidate for a job is just not right for some reason, but we can’t say for sure what that reason is. Perhaps our mind is connecting that the candidate’s lack of authenticity is similar to our experience of past employees who have failed terribly on the job. That would be our “gut instinct” correctly steering us away from a bad hiring decision. Or, it could be that our mind is connecting the candidate’s necktie to one that a hated ex-boss used to wear, and that is creating a negative impression. That would be our “gut instinct” tricking us with a form of cognitive bias, and we may be passing over a highly effective candidate.

The point is that gut instinct can be good, and it can be bad. What if gut instinct and structure were not mutually exclusive? What if, instead of being the opposite of gut instinct, structure was a tool to organize gut instinct? A definition of structure is…

“The organization of component parts of any larger, more complex thing which contains all of the parts.”

Without a doubt, a mind full of experiences is an incredibly complex thing that contains millions of parts. Structure can help to organize the huge mess of thoughts that swim around each other in our brains. When we organize those thoughts, we can make better use of them. And, more importantly for those we lead, we can more effectively communicate our thoughts to others. Structure can be seen as the perfect complement to good instinct. Either one on its own is less effective than both together.


Categories: Uncategorized |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *