In decades of work with business leaders I’ve learned that the majority of professional people wildly overvalue their cognitive capabilities — rational thought, logic, fact-gathering and analysis — over their other innate talents.
Cognitive skill is invaluable, but it is simply one form of human intelligence. It has its limits: It is not well-suited to innovating new products, engaging employees or implementing a business plan. You need your intuition, emotion and willpower, too.
Over the past few weeks in these columns I’ve introduced our inner players, what I call The Big Four — The Dreamer, The Thinker, The Lover and The Warrior — that reside in all of us.
Each member of this inner C-Suite delivers a different skill set to enable four approaches to leading and living: inspirational, analytical, relational and practical. Each one is animated by its own intelligence.
The best leaders draw on every intelligence available to them. Not always. Not all at the same time. But recognizing each one, exercising them and learning how and when to apply them enables you to access the strength of every member of your inner team at the right time for the right purpose.
Tap More of Your Inner Intelligence
The Dreamer draws its strength from intuition. It’s the voice that imagines the future unconstrained by rules or expectations. It’s our gut instinct that tells us to take a chance on an opportunity before we have data to prove it. Intuition gives us the sinking sensation that something isn’t right although we cannot pinpoint why.
The Thinker powers up through reason. That’s the voice that gathers the facts, does the math and looks for the right answer. It rejects theories when a reasoned argument can’t explain them. The Thinker analyzes our budgets to show us how to reduce cost. It monitors regulations to ensure we operate within the law. It objectively assesses projects based on accepted benchmarks.
The Lover energizes with emotion and empathy. It’s the voice that connects us with the people around us, builds our relationships and repairs them when things go wrong. It takes emotional intelligence to recruit, hire and develop people to their highest potential. The Lover’s emotional radar fosters trust on a team, recognizes happiness or dissatisfaction of our customers, and builds a company culture where employees thrive.
The Warrior gets its energy from willpower. It’s the voice that emboldens us to push forward to achieve our goals, that seals the deal and delivers on promises. It harbors the competitive spirit that seeks the win and works to beat our best record. The Warrior fuels our determination to hit targets and our resolve to find new clients. Its force of will gives us firmness to stand for our values or speak up for employees.
As you read through these descriptions and examples, you may find one that sounds like you most of the time, but brain science tells us that relying only on one source of intelligence can undermine our performance.
Your True Genius Combines Intuition, Reason, Emotion and Willpower
Thinker intelligence is powerful, but it doesn’t tap the breadth of deeper wisdom at our center of well-being where our ‘still, small voice’ resides.
Non-doing, which includes non-thinking, can help us tap more of our inner genius. Staring out your window – “spacing out” – gives your mind time to slow its calculations and ease into a more relaxed brain state. As our Thinker quiets, answers and ideas bubble up from beneath the surface as if coming out of nowhere.
Indeed, they come from somewhere. They come from your center of well-being, where your deeper capacity for knowing exists.
Our well-honed Thinker may distrust these solutions. We hesitate to follow them because they strike us as “irrational.” And they are. That’s the point. In moments like these, you’re tapping an intelligence source other than reasoning. An inner genius comes to the fore, drawing its power from our emotional intelligence or our creative intuitive core.
Whatever your default is — Dreamer, Thinker, Lover or Warrior — to grow as a leader, you have to recognize the other intelligences and allow them to have their say. We need The Dreamer to imagine possibilities, The Lover to communicate effectively and The Warrior to take action. The Thinker can guide our decision-making best by tapping the wisdom of our full inner team.
Next week: We explore the first transformational player, The Lookout.
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