One of the most frequent questions I get asked when business owners or their managers are looking at my executive coaching program is: “How will I know what my strengths and weaknesses are?” or “Will you be able to tell me how I can improve my sales, bottom line, profitability?”

That question, often asked in a number of ways, infers that the owner or manager I am speaking with would really like to know, either by verifying what they already know to be true, or identifying what they are concerned may be the reasons for their less than stellar performance – and sometimes their motivations are the same – they need data to help them make a decision.  Let’s review some research and data for this purpose.

Only Your Gut Knows

Our gut has a lot in it – intuition, snap decisions, subconscious perspectives – and it’s all below the conscious or thinking surface.  Not to be coy, but think about this – research in the decision-making of consumers shows that as much as 95% of the decision to purchase something is subconscious (Harvard-Zaltman, 2003). Research on Naval Commanders showed that 95% of decisions were based on intuition and “gut” rather than actually analyzing and comparing options (Klein et all, 1996).[1]  Intuition – our gut – has a substantial role to play in how we make decisions.

When Does The Gut Decide?

Interestingly research further shows (Eisenhardt 1993) that in a “high-velocity” setting, decisions must be swift, and made without much data or precedence, and stress is higher, whereas in “low-velocity” settings, time is plentiful, stress is low, familiarity and experience are high and there is more data available to make the decision (we can think about thinking).  Further research into decisions made in high-velocity situations (Judge, Miller 1991 & Mintzberg 1994) indicate that when decisions are more hurried, snap decision-making plays a greater role, and when less formal data is available, snap decision making also plays a greater role.  As noted above, it’s safe to say that 80% of the decisions owners and managers make every day rely on our gut.

So How Do I Know What My Gut Looks Like?

I don’t want to paint this answer with any level or thought of surgical precision, so let’s just look at the ways you make decisions in your world.  How often do you have a hunch that something needs to be done, that something needs analysis, or someone is going to be affected by a course of action.  The higher your levels of ability and preference are in a given dimension of thought the more intuitive you are about that dimension.   Do you get those funny feelings often that you should do something?  Or do you just act on the hunch?  Put another way, do others regularly rely on you for “caring about others,” “getting things done,” “or always thinking things through?”

Is My Gut Right All The Time?

As noted above, we are in high velocity situations about 80% of our day.  We don’t have time to think about thinking.  So we go with our gut.  When I talk with a business owner or manager about making more money and growing their company they’ll ask me if I can help them do so with less effort and better results.

When a business owner or manager is willing to understand more about their behavioral preferences, values, and thinking patterns, if they’re willing to begin a discovery process to identify their strengths, it’s as easy as taking this executive coaching program assessment, Are you ready?

[1] Summation of research from The Innermetrix Product Orientation Manual, Revised April 2007.