bransonThis is Part One of a multi-part series on Ethical Leadership.

“I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.” – Richard Branson

I thought I would start with the most apparent way to lead ethically – by your gut. Why? Because I feel that most people are good and try to live their lives from a position of doing good for others. I know — there are some horrible people out there — but overall, I believe that the majority of executives are guided by good rather than evil. Unfortunately, some are pulled to the dark side by a number of different reasons (found in my last post).

Leading with Gut Instinct means that you listen to an inner voice — what scientists call ‘your intuition’. Intuition is a feeling within your body that something is right or just not right. Did you catch that I said “within your body” and not just “within your mind”? We’ve all had moments of intuition – a certain colleague or a business deal. Sometimes we listen and sometimes we don’t —intuition is the signpost pointing us to the right way — unfortunately, we sometimes take the wrong way.

“Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.” – Dr. Joyce Brothers
This is why I believe my gut. Our brain is made up of billions of neurons firing many times during the day. Thoughts, emotions, facts, knowledge, etc. all are accessible at one time or another. If you have a highly structured and organized mind, you probably don’t use your intuition as much as the next person. You just go to the library, choose your book from the shelves, and access the info that you need.

Everyone else’s brain uses a more complex system — intuition — to unconsciously make their way through that ball of wire we call the brain and access that one (or more) tidbit of information needed to make the right decision.

The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself. – Alan Alda
“Be yourself” — (how I love that term) — intuition allows you to make decisions from where you stand, not from anyone else’s perspective. This is a sign of a true leader – one that makes the hard decisions, efficiently and effectively.

So next time you need to make the right decision — use your gut. It will keep you on the right track.