The subject of decision making among business leaders and the use of intuition versus facts and figures has been debated and researched for years. Albert Einstein, physicist and Nobel Laureate, once said “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Daniel Tammet, one of the world’s renowned savants noted, “Logic obviously is important. You need to be able to figure things out, to go to the end of a particular problem. But intuition is very important because it references things that logic alone cannot.”
So which path is best? We posed this question to a handful of executives.
Royce Cornelison, owner, P&C Construction
There’s no doubt that when making decisions on the daily operation of your business, there should always be consideration as to how circumstances will affect the future well-being of your company and each individual involved. However, many times through the course of time, opportunities arose that seemed to offer potential growth and strength for our company that just didn’t feel right for us. Almost every time, when we looked back and saw what could have been, we were thankful we followed our hearts, not our heads.
David Brock, owner, Sports Barn
I try and listen to our customers with my heart and act with my head. Customers usually have the best ideas, but it’s not always possible to act on those ideas at a moment’s notice. If I’m listening to them and seeing what’s happening in the marketplace, I can sometimes anticipate and provide what they want quickly, and sometimes not. The result I go for is to try and give the customers what they want in a way that makes sense for the entire company. For me it’s a two-step process—listen with my heart and act with my head.
C. Dennis Blanton, CPA, Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain, PC
When making a business decision I will typically start with my heart, but end up making the decision based on what my head says. Going with your heart can let emotions overshadow sound reasoning, and result in unintended harm to others affected by your decision. When dealing with my wife and kids it usually works just the opposite!
Renee Ford, Shareholder, Elliot Davis Decosimo
I’m a terribly impatient person, so I tend to make decisions quickly. Because of this, I have learned to listen to my head. While I can see the value in analyzing every angle, I’m more concerned with the opportunity cost of waiting. My heart usually weighs in later, after the decision is made, but the heart is complex and indecisive. I don’t have time for that. The heart can also have me second-guessing myself at every turn, but I have a policy of being committed to the decisions I make. I believe this increases my rate of achieving desired outcomes.
Jeff Averbeck, CEO, Airnet Group Inc.
We are created with both a head and a heart for a reason—to use both. It’s easy to make rash decisions based on what you think is logical or what you feel is compelling, but time has taught me wisdom comes from leading with your head and finishing with your heart.