PoYee Poon Dorrian | Executive & Leadership Coach
545 Metro Pl S. Ste 100
Dublin, OH 43017
PoYee is a multicultural, multilingual executive coach and facilitator with over 25 years of professional experience and has a specific focus on bringing purposeful leadership to individuals and organizations. PoYee is part of the Forbes Coaches Council, and she was awarded the highest achievement by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) as a Master Certified Coach (MCC). PoYee is also a fully accredited and trained Mentor Coach and Coach Supervisor to work with fellow practitioners to deepen their craft in the coaching profession.
A global citizen, PoYee has lived and worked internationally. She has contributed her thought leadership to Marie Claire and South China Morning Post (SCMP) when she lived in Asia. PoYee coaches executives and senior leaders around the world from a variety of industries and companies.
PoYee has been described by her clients as having a balanced presence of heart and head -warm, compassionate, creative, insightful, and challenging at the same time. As a natural-born connector and relationship builder, she is passionate about systemic leadership transformation that inspires and nurtures a whole-being leadership mastery through thought-provoking conversations, radical self-inquiry, and practical experimentations.
PoYee believes conscious leadership is masterful leadership – a vital source for true authentic power where leaders connect profit, people, purpose, and planet to elevate the practice of sustainable business. She looks forward to partnering with you and guiding your practice of purposeful leadership in life.
“Thanks to big data, machines can now be programmed to do the next thing right. But only humans can do the next right thing.” – Dov Seidman, Founder and Chairman of LRN
In a jungle of fast-moving technology collecting and churning out an enormous amount of facts, figures, numbers, and data at an exponential rate, the capability to interpret information and turn them into insights has become one of the pillars to critical leadership success.
Top management consulting firms and business schools design simulations that offer a myriad of scenarios with rapidly changing data to challenge one’s decision-making ability, ranging from executing a brand strategy at an enterprise level to hiring potential talents from college.
Whether it be in a contrived experiential learning environment or a real-life boardroom showdown, an astute leader would exercise prudence to look at as much relevant and objective evidence as available to support their thinking process. At times, the use of a Decision Matrix may be the only way to analyze and debate rationally, logically, and reasonably.
Yet, we are in a time in history when the world is becoming more interdependent, volatile,
uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) than ever before. It is imperative to expand one’s
aperture and to synthesize broader perspectives – a practice of being radically inclusive to be
informed by a fully well-rounded picture. For such a view to emerge, let’s consider the
The term intuition may suggest instinct, sixth-sense – something elusive and even mystical. To explore intuitive decision-making, we need to come to understand what intuition is. While there is no one definition, Webster Dictionary describes intuition as the act or process of coming to direct knowledge or certainty without reasoning or inferring. Intuition gives us the ability to know something quickly – the kind of rapid thought happens outside of conscious awareness. In layman terms, intuition is commonly known as the “gut feeling” or “hunch” – what we know without knowing how we know. Intuitive decision-making in the context of the leadership management approach was dubbed as a “non-sequential information processing mode which comprises both cognitive and affective elements.”1. This perspective was grounded on the research that demonstrated the importance of a multidimensional approach to decision-making. When encompassing rationale, heuristics, insight, and intuition as data points, leaders have a better grasp of the changing dynamics in which they have to operate 2,3. As a result, an increased ability to make decisions effectively in a VUCA world of acceleration.
Intuition has long been perceived as a less validated, less effective, and even inferior approach to the merits of analytical thinking and critical reasoning. Yet, gathering from coaching conversations in recent years with my executive clients, I have noticed a trend in leaders starting to recognize the limitation of heavy reliance on the use of statistical data. They are becoming aware of the missed opportunities when overlooking valuable information that is stemmed from within themselves. Their intuition about intuition is, slowly but surely, gaining a deserving seat at the c-suites table. One CEO client shared,
“I should have been more adamant about this particular people solution and not be swayed by the CFO. He is a black-and-white “numbers guy” whose strength is not around dealing with interpersonal dynamics. I am a big-picture person. Reading people and the environment is what I do exceptionally well. Most of the time, we balance each other out. That is why we have been great partners! On this one, I knew I should have trusted myself and made an executive decision on the direction the company should take. Yes, his numbers made sense, but something inside me just told me I was right. Had I been more confident in trusting my inner voice, we could have had avoided this unnecessary battle we have been in for the last eight months.”
In the whirl-wind spin of a complex business environment, intuition drives decisions. Decades of research have shown that analytical decision-making is excellent for deconstructing problems into smaller chunks, similar to solving a math challenge. On the contrary, intuition involves spotting patterns and wholes, which is necessary when making quick decisions about whether something is right or wrong, real or fake. Gerd Gigerenzer, a psychologist and former professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and now the Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, has been dedicating his career to focus on the ways we can learn to get things right. In his book Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions, Gerd remarked that “top executives are buried under a mountain of information that there is no algorithm to calculate the best decision… and the data don’t tell them what they should do.” 4. Gigerenzer said, “Intuition, in the form of feeling, is the unconscious intelligence that is needed as conscious intelligence.” Such a view is suggesting the rising need for an integrated approach where both analytical reasoning and intuition are used in tandem when contextually relevant to compliment each other in a decision-making process.
Studies have provided empirical evidence that leaders are more likely to used intuition when challenges are ill-defined, ambiguous, and poorly structured. Intuition is particularly useful when leaders are faced with conflicting facts or inadequate information 5, 6, 7. Other factors that influence the efficacy and use of intuition include the perceived importance of the decision, its potential impact, and job position. “We found that people trust their gut and rely on intuition when making a broad evaluation in an area where they have in-depth knowledge of the subject as the domain experts.” Explained Michael Pratt, an expert in organizational psychology and the O’Connor Family Professor of Management and Organization at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. 8
Pratt and his colleagues conducted a series of research on intuitive decision-making effectiveness relative to domain-expertise. The hope from their findings is that it should support organizations to gain a better understanding of the use of ‘gut’ in making decisions by employees and CEOs alike. “As people move up in organizations, they are often required to make judgments that may not be readily solved by rational analysis. However, emerging leaders have to be careful in making such intuitive judgments”. 8
Companies are running leaner and faster than ever before. Talents are spread thin and often groomed to be well-versed leaders, and they do not spend enough time in one domain. For example, high-potentials graduating from colleges may become part of a ‘leadership immersion program’ in an organization where they are encouraged to have broad exposure to the business. They are moved from finance to marketing, to IT, to R&D. The result of it may be well-rounded employees. However, they may not gain the experience needed for intuitive decision-making.
Pratt noted the following as the key learning to remember 8 :
(1) Intuition is best used only in certain circumstances.
(2) Be careful when to use your ‘gut’.
(3) If you are working in an industry where you have risen through the ranks, your domain expertise will likely better serve an intuitive approach.
(4) If you gained your expertise in a different field, you may not have the background to rely as strongly on your intuition.
Intuition can be cultivated and improved with deliberate and consistent practice. Here are some suggestions to sharpen your sensitivity to listen to your inner wisdom:
(1). Pause for Breath and Reflect – Busyness, exhaustion, and stress seem to be the most claimed trophies for executives to have a successful life. To train our intuitive expertise over time, we need to create a space to allow focused thinking to take place. This notion was articulated well by Dov Seidman, the Chairmen and CEO of LRN – a company dedicated to principled performance relating to ethics and compliance. Seidman shared, “With a machine, hitting the pause button stops the action. But if you’re a human being, that’s when you start. You pause to make sense of your situation and to reconnect with your deepest beliefs.” 9 . In my executive coaching practice, I coach my clients to increase their somatic awareness and be more conscious of inviting intuitions in the moment. I also use a future-back thinking approach, premortem, to elicit intuition to make pain points real. Also, analogies or other creative means often help clients bring out the inner smart at the start. Knowledge is only useful if we can reflect on it.
(2). Turn Off Inner Criticism – Often, we are our most unforgiving critics, and we let those inner voices of judgment high jack our access to intuition. Practice allowing those internal dialogues to take place without ridicule and listening to them openly with curiosity. This exercise conditions the muscles of receptiveness to the wisdom that can only be heard when we are quiet within.
(3). Keep a Journal – Clear feedback helps us hone our intuitive decisions. As leaders, being disciplined in keeping track of your thinking patterns, behavioral tendencies, and emotional experience can open up the non-conscious mind. If insight is seeing, intuition is sensing. Journaling creates the opportunity for a deeper connection and trust with your own sense of who you are as leaders and what matters most.
I hope this article and these suggestions have provoked new thoughts and fresh views on playing the chip of intuition in business decision-making. Let your intuition speak. Leaders of tomorrow and future generations need leaders of today to bring in their whole selves to create positive, sustainable change to the world.
Sinclair, M. and Ashkanasy, N. M. (2005) ‘Intuition: Myth or a Decision-making Tool?’,
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Eisenhardt, K. M. (1999) ‘Strategy as strategic decision making’. Sloan Management Review,
Gigerenzer, G. (2015) Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decision. New York, NY: Penguin Books
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