What is Intuitive Intelligence?

What is Intuitive Intelligence?

Hulan Hagen Hulan Hagen
16 minute read

In today’s fast-paced and information-rich world, the concept of intuitive intelligence has emerged as a crucial skill set for navigating the complexities of life and business. But what exactly does intuitive intelligence mean? At its core, intuitive intelligence combines the power of intuition with the analytical prowess of intelligence, enabling individuals to make decisions quickly and effectively, often without relying on conscious reasoning. This blend of instinct and intellect allows for an understanding and insight that goes beyond the conventional data-driven decision-making processes. In this article, we will explore the concept of intuitive intelligence, delving into its definition, importance, and benefits in business, and we will provide practical advice on developing an intuitive skillset, with real-world examples and guidance on how to test your own intuitive capabilities.

Intuitive Intelligence Definition

Intuitive Intelligence is the ability to understand or know something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning. It's a form of insight that goes beyond analytical thinking to include more subconscious, instinctual, and often non-verbal processes. Intuitive intelligence encompasses a deep inner knowing that arises without explicit reasoning or direct evidence. It involves tapping into one's inner wisdom, experiences, and emotional insights to make decisions, solve problems, or generate creative ideas. This type of intelligence is often associated with gut feelings, hunches, or flashes of insight that guide individuals in making choices or understanding situations in ways that logic alone cannot explain.

Intuitive intelligence is a valuable complement to rational thinking, especially in complex decision-making processes in which data and evidence may be incomplete or ambiguous. It plays a significant role in various domains, including business, where it can enhance leadership, innovation, and adaptability by allowing leaders to navigate uncertain environments effectively.

intuitive intelligence definition

What Is Intuitive Intelligence in Business?

In business, intuitive intelligence plays a pivotal role in strategic decision-making and innovation. Intelligence suggests reasoning while intuition suggests perception. Intuitive intelligence means using intuition reasonably, balancing perception with skepticism and logic. There are four levels of intuitive intelligence for business: business instinct, intuitive leadership, intuitive entrepreneurship or vision, and enactive intuition. Each of these levels of intuitive intelligence is a competency or skill that can be learned through practice.  

As with any skill, some people are naturally better at intuitive thinking in business, some worse, but regardless of natural ability, everyone can build their skill. The same is true of leadership: Historic generals like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Hannibal, Genghis Khan, or Napoleon suggest that intuition in leadership is a natural trait, for only a few can reach their level. Nevertheless, all of us can learn from such leaders, no matter our starting point.    

Why Intuitive Intelligence Is Important?

Intuitive intelligence in business is crucial for several reasons, each contributing to effective decision-making, innovation, and leadership. Here's why it holds significant importance:

Strategic Vision: Intuitive leaders often have a strong sense of vision for the future of their businesses. Their intuition helps them to envision potential outcomes and guide their companies towards long-term success, even when the path is not clearly defined by data alone.

Enhanced Problem-Solving: Intuitive intelligence helps in recognizing patterns and connections that are not immediately obvious. This ability can lead to innovative solutions and creative problem-solving, as individuals are able to draw on their subconscious knowledge and experiences.

Strong Leadership: Leaders with strong intuitive intelligence can sense the needs and dynamics of their team, making such leaders better equipped to guide and motivate the team. This intuition helps in making more empathic and effective decisions that consider the well-being and morale of the team.

Risk Management: While data analysis is critical for assessing risks, intuition plays a key role in evaluating uncertain situations in which data may be incomplete or ambiguous. Intuitive intelligence allows leaders to gauge risks more holistically, combining empirical evidence with instinct to make balanced decisions.

Personal Development: On a personal level, developing intuitive intelligence can lead to greater self-awareness, self-trust, and confidence. These qualities are essential for personal growth and development, enabling individuals to lead with conviction and authenticity.

intuitive intelligence importance

Intuitive Intelligence Examples

Entrepreneurs like Warren Buffett and Elon Musk demonstrate how intuitive intelligence, when combined with expertise and a willingness to take calculated risks, can lead to groundbreaking achievements. Their ability to "read" the market, anticipate future trends, and act decisively is a testament to the power of intuitive intelligence in shaping visionary success.

Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is renowned for his long-term investment strategy, which heavily relies on his intuitive understanding of a company's leadership and market potential. Buffett's approach goes beyond the numbers; he looks for companies with strong leadership, a solid business model, and a competitive edge or “moat” in the market—qualities that aren't always quantifiable. His intuition about the intrinsic value of businesses, coupled with a disciplined approach to investing, has led to unparalleled success.

Elon Musk's decisions to found SpaceX and lead Tesla were driven by his belief in the potential of space exploration and sustainable energy, despite widespread skepticism. Musk's intuition that society would rally around these ideas—coupled with his vision for making them a reality—has not only proven successful but has also propelled advancements in electric vehicles and space travel. His ability to foresee and act on these emerging trends, based on a deep understanding of technology's potential to address global challenges, showcases his intuitive grasp of future possibilities.

Benefits of Intuitive Intelligence in Business

Integrating intuitive intelligence into business practices offers numerous benefits. Here are three key benefits: 

  • Rapid Decision-making 
  • Boosts in innovation and creativity
  • Greater empathy and emotional intelligence

Rapid Decision-Making: In the fast-paced business world, leaders often face situations where they must make decisions quickly, with limited information. Intuitive intelligence enables them to use their gut feelings or instincts to make informed decisions swiftly, which is vital for seizing opportunities and addressing challenges in a timely manner.

Boosts in Innovation and Creativity: By harnessing intuitive insights, individuals and teams can break free from conventional thinking patterns, leading to groundbreaking ideas and solutions. This form of intelligence empowers businesses to predict market movements and consumer preferences more effectively, ensuring they stay ahead of the curve.

Greater Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: Intuitive intelligence fosters a deeper understanding of and connection with others, enhancing interpersonal relationships and facilitating a more harmonious workplace.

intuitive intelligence coach Hulan Hagen

Reasoning and intuition are interdependent. The ability to intuit the big picture or hidden interconnections within the big picture is as important as reasoning. Reason and intuition can be viewed as compound mechanisms, two mechanisms which are tools of each other. To be advantageous, business intuition needs to work in tandem with business analysis, but it gives direction.  Intuition directs reason while reason modulates intuition. As Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, said, “Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” 

The cultures of business schools and global finance emphasize quantitative analysis at the expense of business instinct even though intuitive thinking in business is fundamental.  In his book The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam recounts how Robert McNamara’s overemphasis on reason at the expense of intuitive leadership contributed to the USA’s failures in the Vietnam War. 

As well, we need to check intuition with reason and skepticism. As Jonathan Haidt points out in The Righteous Mind, we arrive at our fundamental position intuitively and then use reasoning to refine and defend the intuition. In emotional fields like politics and religion, we rarely discard our intuitions, which we may carry with us from childhood, but intuitive business skill involves questioning intuition, in effect establishing a stop loss for intuition.  

Intuitive Intelligence Approach

The intuitive intelligence approach involves leveraging both the analytical mind and the intuitive sense to make decisions. This approach recognizes intuition as a critical component of human cognition, capable of accessing deep insights and understanding that are not readily available to the conscious mind. Here’s an exploration of how the intuitive intelligence approach works:

Listening to Your Inner Voice: The core of intuitive intelligence is about valuing our gut feelings, immediate instincts and hunches, as trustworthy advice.

Understanding the Big Picture: This approach encourages us to look at situations in ways that combine our analytical thinking with our intuitive feelings. It suggests that our intuition can help us see beyond basic facts and details, giving us a deeper understanding of the entire scenario.

Emotions and Subconscious Thoughts: Intuitive intelligence involves tapping into our emotional intelligence and the thoughts that occur beneath our conscious awareness. It acknowledges that a lot of our thought processes happen without us realizing it and that our emotions can be a significant indicator of deeper truths.

For entrepreneurs and executives looking to learn more about the approach, intuitive business coaching offers a pathway to developing these intuitive skills. You can book your complimentary brainstorming call at https://www.business-intuition-institute.com/calender

Best Practices for Intuitive Intelligence in Business

There is an extensive literature on intuitive intelligence in business, finance, and entrepreneurship. It suggests that business intuition can be a personal trait or a skill and that it can be short-term or long-term. Intuition in business and leadership comes into play through:

1. Business instinct in the short term,

2. Leadership and organization structuring in the medium term,

3. Vision or breakthrough entrepreneurship in the long term, and 

4. The enactment of our life’s vision and our spirituality in the longest term. 

Let's look into each of those practices:

1. Business Instinct in the Short Term

Short-term business instinct comes to play in negotiation, in assessment of character, and in assessment of stock market trends. In financial and commodity markets, for example, technical analysis can tell us where a trend is going, but it cannot tell us where the top or bottom of the trend is. Intuition is necessary for that. 

Many have discussed the conceptual principles of Benjamin Graham and Warren Buffett’s value-investing style, but the intuitive aspects of Buffett’s approach are difficult to pin down. They are just as important as security analysis. Because Buffett’s business instincts are spectacular, purely analytical imitation of his value-investing approach takes imitators just so far.

For example, in 1983 Buffett met an 89-year-old, illiterate refugee turned businesswoman named Rose Blumkin, and according to Inc. Magazine, he trusted her so completely that he handed her a $55 million check for her Nebraska Furniture Mart without so much as checking her inventory or verifying her accounts receivable. The contract was a page-and-a-quarter long. Buffett’s intuition was right, for the following year Buffett wrote in his annual report, “I’d rather wrestle grizzlies than compete with Mrs. B and her progeny.”   

2. Leadership and Organization Structuring in the Medium Term

Great leadership requires intuition, but because the markets, technology, and the global economy are continually disrupted, organizations must foster intuition at all levels.  One way to accomplish this is by transforming organizations that encourage and are based on linear thinking into organizations that encourage instinct and playfulness.  

One difference between instinctual and traditional business thinking is that instinctual problem solving is specific to given conditions while analytical decision making is more rigid. Transforming linear into intuitive organizations means making processes more flexible and empowering employees to invent.  

In his book Intuitive Compass, Francis Cholle argues that there are four tenets of intuitive intelligence at the organizational level: thinking holistically, noticing the unusual, thinking paradoxically, and leading by influence.  The firm’s leadership, work culture, marketing, business model, and innovation evolve by emphasizing playfulness and instinct and allowing these to complement reason and results. 

3. Vision or Breakthrough Entrepreneurship in the Long Term

Every entrepreneur has a vision, and every vision depends on instinct.  There are, of course, times when entrepreneurial instinct and vision are blocked. Among the reasons for blocks to intuition are distrust of the nonrational, excessive emphasis on short-term results, overcommitment to hierarchical structures, and commitment to stereotyped solution sets. 

Overcoming blocks to entrepreneurship requires introducing playfulness and creativity into the entrepreneurial process. Putting ourselves into new conditions, traveling, attending art museums, and reframing problems playfully are ways to overcome blocks to entrepreneurial vision. 

All great entrepreneurs have a great vision.  Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s vision was a computer on every desk.  Steve Jobs envisioned a smartphone that  integrated apps, computer applications, and telephony in a hand-held device.  Ray Kroc envisioned the golden arches of McDonald’s in every American small town. Walt Disney, who had served with Ray Kroc as an ambulance trainee during World War I, envisioned a theme park that housed his magical cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Snow White. Disney tried to convince investors to invest in Disneyland for five years, but their analysis showed that a theme park could not work. Disney later said, “Sometimes I wonder if ‘common sense’ is another way of saying ‘fear.’” 

4. Our Intuition Is the Basis of the Lives We Choose to Lead and the Spiritual Values We Choose to Enact

Each of us enacts a vision and set of values that we intuitively understand.  Jung argued that the collective unconscious or objective psyche is our inherited, deep unconscious mind common to all human beings.  Jung believed that instincts spring from the collective unconscious. 

In his book Intuition: The New Frontier of Management, Jagdish Parikh argues that by the 1990s there had been a paradigm shift from linear paradigms parallel to classical physics to holistic paradigms parallel to quantum physics. Corporations increasingly depend on shared visions that emanate from the collective unconscious because variables relating to technological and market forces are increasingly unpredictable and problems are increasingly unstructured.  

A study done in the 1960s found that 80% of executives believed in extra-sensory perception, ESP.  Clearly, they had tapped into deeper levels of the unconscious mind in the course of making executive decisions. We increasingly need to integrate deep values like sustainability into our decision making.  Tapping into deeper levels of spirituality means accessing unconscious processes on which entrepreneurial thinking depend.  

How to Develop Intuitive Intelligence?

Boosting your intuitive intelligence is crucial for business success. Beyond foundational techniques like meditation, visualization, and fostering creativity, here are key strategies to enhance your business intuition:

Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Routine: Regular mindfulness practices can heighten your awareness and sensitivity to intuitive insights. Implementing mindfulness exercises into your daily schedule can refine your ability to perceive and act on intuitive signals in business contexts.

Business Intuition Journal: Recording your intuitive insights and their outcomes can provide valuable lessons. Tracking decisions made on gut feelings and their results can help identify successful patterns and improve decision-making confidence.

Reflect on Your Decisions: Dedicate time to reflect on your business decisions and the role intuition played. This could involve reviewing past decisions, considering the intuition involved, and assessing the outcomes, thereby strengthening your intuitive judgment.

Broaden Your Expertise: Exposing yourself to diverse business strategies, markets, and innovations can enrich your intuitive thinking. Expanding your understanding of different business environments and trends can enhance your intuition by equipping it with a broader range of insights.

Develop Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: The ability to understand and manage your emotions and those of your colleagues and clients can significantly enhance your intuitive capabilities. Emotional intelligence in business settings improves your ability to navigate complex interpersonal dynamics and make intuitive decisions that consider the emotional landscape of your team and customers.

Act on Your Business Intuition: Trusting and acting on your gut feelings in business decisions, especially in uncertain or fast-paced situations, can strengthen your intuitive skills. Start with small decisions to build confidence in your intuitive insights, then gradually apply it to more significant business choices.

By applying these strategies, you can significantly boost your intuitive intelligence, leading to more effective, insightful, and agile decision-making in the business world. Book a free call to learn more how to develop your intuitive intelligence and supercharge your business.

How to Test Your Intuitive Intelligence?

Testing your intuitive intelligence involves exercises that help you recognize and trust your gut feelings. Here are three steps to get you started:

1. Practice Mindfulness and Reflection 

2. Set Up Intuition Tests 

3. Use Intuition in Decision-Making

Let's look into each of those steps:

1. Begin to practice mindfulness. This could involve meditation, journaling, or simply sitting quietly and tuning into your thoughts and feelings. The goal is to become more aware of your intuition. After deciding, take time to reflect on the role your intuition played. Did you have an initial gut feeling? Was it accurate? 

2. Create small, low-risk situations where you can test your intuition. For example, try to guess who is calling when your phone rings without looking, or predict the outcome of a coin toss. These simple tests can be fun and insightful, helping you to tune into and evaluate your intuitive abilities.

3. Trust your gut in business decisions. Start applying your gut feelings to smaller business decisions. Before deciding, see if one option naturally feels right. Note your instinct and the final decision, then observe the outcome. This practice helps you gauge how your instincts align with successful business choices.

By following these steps, you can begin to better understand and trust your intuitive intelligence, enhancing your ability to make decisions that align with both your logic and your instincts.


In summary, intuitive intelligence is a key skill in today's fast-moving business world. It combines gut feelings with logical thinking to make quick, accurate decisions, spark new ideas, and predict trends. This skill also helps us connect better with people by understanding their emotions. As we adapt to new challenges, learning to use intuitive intelligence can lead to success in both work and life. It's about trusting our instincts, being creative, and building stronger relationships. By exploring and developing our intuitive intelligence, we open doors to new possibilities and ways to succeed.

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