The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “When making a tough business decision, how do you know when to trust your gut?” is written by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.
Intuition may be the biggest buzzword in leadership today. It is the mark of great entrepreneurs—the un–coachable quality of leadership. When should leaders trust their guts, and when should they step back and investigate more facts?
In my work helping churches and faith-based companies find great staff, I have learned a few key concepts worth considering:
Never trust your gut if it takes you away from your core cause
Boldness and optimism are hallmarks of the entrepreneur’s spirit. Letting these qualities take precedence, however, may deviate from the mission. Many times as a young leader I would have a great idea or see an opportunity, “feel it,” and take the leap. But I finally realized that my instinct had a strong tendency to lead with a “yes” attitude, even when it pulled me away from focus. And when the opportunity pulled me outside of the cause, I always regretted the decision later. Working with mission-driven organizations taught me that cause is the secret to success.
Your gut instinct will always have some good options that could lead to a win. But, as Jim Collins titles the first chapter of Good to Great, “Good is the enemy of great.” Stay focused on your mission, even when the shiny object that leads away from your cause catches your eye.
Always trust your gut when it comes to firing someone
I am an eternal optimist and a big believer in people, which is a gift that has served me well over the years. Many entrepreneurs have the same quality. The downside of this optimism causes many leaders to believe they can rehabilitate an employee who no longer fits the organization. Every time I hesitated to let someone go, I regretted it. I have also come to believe that because of leaders’ fierce optimism, they are usually the last on the team to realize it is time to let someone go. Delaying the decision will eventually erode your leadership credibility with the rest of the team.
If there is one axiom in hiring more valuable than any other, it’s this: Hire slowly and fire quickly. When it comes to parting ways with a team member, trust your gut—quickly.
When it comes to hiring, trust your gut, but verify
This famous adage by Ronald Reagan could not be truer regarding the idea of hiring from the gut. Leaders are usually able to have a feeling about someone they are interviewing in a very short time. I recently read about a CEO who was boasting about her ability to hire using seven-minute interviews. When I was a pastor, I would take pride in the belief that I could tell immediately whether or not someone would be a fit for our company or church.
I was so wrong.
I wrote people off who I should have further investigated. I hired people without looking deep into their histories, personalities, or spouses, among many other factors after performing hundreds of searches.
People are wonderfully complex. They are terribly messy. While good leaders will be able to get an initial impression from their guts, hiring is an anxiety-ridden process. Even the best leader’s gut can be influenced by fear, pain, charisma, and a slew of other characteristics. As mentioned earlier, when you hire, do it slowly. The most expensive hire you will ever make is hiring the wrong person.
Leaders with a good guts are good leaders. Leaders who learn when and how to listen to their guts become exceptional.
Read all responses to the Entrepreneur Insider question: When making a tough business decision, how do you know when to trust your gut?
The Best Way to Make Fast Decisions by Vijay Ramani, cofounder and CEO of Totspot.
What Every Leader Can Learn From Alfred P. Sloan About Tough Decisions by Frank Fabela, Vistage CEO peer advisory board chair.
Proof Data Can’t Always Help You Make Decisions by Morgan Hermand-Waiche, founder and CEO of Adore Me.
Doing This Will Help You Make Tough Decisions by Suneera Madhani, founder and CEO of Fattmerchant.
Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Trust Your Gut by Gesche Haas, founder of Dreamers//Doers.
Here’s What You Should Do When You Have to Make a Tough Decision by Alexander Goldstein, founder and CEO of Eligo Energy.
Never Make a Big Decision Without Doing This First by Feris Rifai, cofounder and CEO of Bay Dynamics.
Here’s How Questioning Decisions Can Ruin a Business by Pat Peterson, founder and CEO of Agari.