Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Know when you can trust your gut

Go With Your Gut by lertsis
Go With Your Gut, a photo by lertsis on Flickr.
One of the behavioral habits that you demonstrate inside and outside of work is the speed at which you make decisions.  And a factor in the speed of your decision making (and ultimately the speed at which you take action toward a particular end result) is the extent to which you trust your gut, or intuition.

Going with your gut is not necessarily a repudiation of data.   You weren't born yesterday, and ever since you entered the workplace your brain has been storing experiences.  You already own a lot of data, and your processing speed is so fast that all of that data, all of that learning, can be at your beck and call when a situation calls for it.  

You do, however, have different mental capacities, different levels of awareness and discernment, in interpreting distinct types of data (new or stored):

  • Intrinsic - This is the people-related data, the heart, the sensing of other people's feelings and the taking of other people's interests and concerns into account.  Someone high in intrinsic talent is often known as a "people person" and is attracted to situations and roles where this talent can be expressed.
  • Extrinsic - This relates to action-taking, practical solutions that can be implemented.  The TV series MacGyver featured a main character who was able to extricate himself from intense threat situations by improvising solutions and tools from nearby resources and objects.  He ruled the day by making do, and by defaulting to action, even in the face of less-than-optimal solutions.
  • Systemic - This mental talent has to do with perceiving the concepts and the organizing principles surrounding a situation.  Highly systemic thinkers are aware of rules, seek to establish rules and criteria, and tend to prefer conformance to them.  
You possess all three of these types of mental talents, and the relative amount of each of them that you have determines the way that you interpret data.  If you are a master in Intrinsic perception, you will automatically notice the people impact in situations - if you are Systemic you will be likely to see the big picture of it without consciously taking your brain there.

You can trust your gut and speed up your decision making and action taking when you are dealing with data that engages your mental strengths.  If, for instance, you are highly Extrinsic you are likely to naturally be good at situations that call for quick action or an overall high activity level.

When you are in a situation that is not engaging your mental strength area it's best to slow down a bit, assess the situation consciously rather than going with your first reaction.  You might even want to consult someone for whom the situation IS in an area of cognitive strength.  If you are tone-deaf where people are concerned and you have a tough decision to communicate, consult your local people person to help you package the information.

There are a lot of ways in which many roles can be executed with a successful outcome.  A financial planner, for instance, might be successful because of his or her analytical (Systemic) talents.  An equally successful financial planner next door might leverage his or her ability to build deep client relationships (Intrinsic) to grow the book of business.  And a third financial planner might go gangbusters in new business development because of his or her willingness to pick up the phone and make cold calls like crazy (Extrinsic).

Summit uses a diagnostic called Attribute Index to identify mental talents.  The results are used to 
  1. Better match a job with a person's strengths
  2. Tailor a developmental plan to leverage those strengths
  3. Help an individual know better when they can trust their gut and speed up their decision making
  4. Assist employers in identifying whether a particular candidate is a good talent match for a job
For more information on how to access the Attribute Index, email

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