The definition of counterintuitive is “contrary to intuition or to common-sense expectation (but often nevertheless true)”.  Nevertheless true.  During these unprecedented times, we may be relying on our intuition to navigate uncharted waters.  But our intuition was honed on situations very different from what we are experiencing.  Celebrated leaders develop and sharpen their leadership skills during times of crisis.  Perhaps practicing the ability to think counterintuitively is what this situation is calling leaders to do.  Here are some suggestions to sharpen this skill.

Think long term

You and your team may be running around like first responders, putting out fires everywhere.  That’s natural when everything feels like an emergency.  But now more than ever is a time when business leaders should be thinking about how their short-term responses are going to impact their long-term strategy. The choices you make now will be with you for a long time. So take a breath, focus on the long term, and choose wisely.


Even when you don’t want to.  Even when it doesn’t feel right.  You may be hesitating to communicate because the news seems to change moment by moment.  Statements made yesterday are already obsolete.  But, now is the perfect time to practice the skill of communicating when you don’t know everything. Great leaders have perfected it.  It’s a skill worth cultivating.

Coach and be coached

Don’t have time to think about your career right now?  Careers have been made (or broken) during times of crisis.  World class leaders distinguish themselves in the most difficult of circumstances.  Spend some time with your coach talking about the impact the crisis is having on you in the workplace.  While you’re at it, spend some time talking about how this is making you feel.

Practice thinking counterintutively and see if you can add a new leadership skill to your tool kit. 

Lorraine Bell, Principal Consultant LBell HR Consulting