I was talking strategy with a female colleague recently, and she gave me a piece of advice that struck me as being something that could only come from a woman.
“I think the important thing is to enjoy yourself,” she said, “because that’s when your intuition comes out.”
We weren’t talking about relationships. We weren’t talking about office politics or how to treat people in the workplace. We were talking about money and business strategy and things that could be profitable vs. things that may not be.
Things that have not, at least in my professional experience, always been associated with intuition.
The word intuition comes up a lot in my personal conversations with female friends. We talk about needing to listen to it more or lament the times we have not listened to it enough, or perhaps were misdirected by it. We are, as women, very familiar with the concept of a gut feeling acting as a guide - in our personal lives.
But the idea of intuition being a tool in business is new to me.
I’ve spent the bulk of my career working almost exclusively with men. I have had a female boss for only a handful of months in the last ten years, and I can count the number of female co-workers I’ve had using only the fingers on my hands. The men I’ve worked with do not use the word intuition. Not personally, and absolutely not professionally. Occasionally they will mention “killer instincts”, but that isn’t exactly the same. Intuition is a gut feeling that nudges you in one direction or another, whereas “killer instincts” usually refer to the ability to be decisive and aggressive and quick all at once. These men haven’t been guided by intuition, but rather by experience and logic and reasoning.
Of course, the few women I’ve worked with - and even this woman I spoke with recently - use experience and logic and reasoning in their professional decision making as well. And some women I’ve worked with have undoubtedly possessed “killer instincts”. But it’s this addition of intuition as a reliable resource that intrigues me. i think that it’s new to me because I haven’t worked with women, but perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the men I’ve worked with in the past aren’t big on the idea.
What do you think?
Are women more likely to rely on their intuition in their professional lives than men are? Is that a good thing?