Take a quick mental inventory of your leadership strengths for a minute. What would you say is that one human "superpower" that gives you that edge when dealing with people?

Is it emotional intelligence?  Is it your uncanny ability to actively listen? Perhaps you've been told the ability to persuade is your best people skill.  

Whatever it may be, I'm taking bets right now that none of you thought of this natural superpower as a core leadership strength: intuition.

Here's the textbook definition: "Intuition is a natural ability that makes it possible to know something without any proof or evidence; a feeling that guides a person to act a certain way without fully understanding why."

How intuition is best used

First of all, the research is clear: Intuition has links to high emotional intelligence. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio of the University of Iowa College of Medicine found that "hunches" provide extremely valuable information, and emotional Intelligence helps enhance this ability.

If you possess it, I tip my cap and acknowledge in you a supreme edge. It's a power that recognizes that funny feeling that something ain't right

Intuition Is really your internal compass. It's that "inner voice" -- that gut feeling from deep down inside -- that clues you in to thoughts and feelings under the layers of logic and rationale that keeps you moving in the right direction.

Intuition is what Peter Cancro has used for years in determining who makes a good culture fit to work for his billion-dollar company, Jersey Mike's Subs, which has more than 1,500 locations in 45 states.

As the CEO, he is known for having an "eye" for career potential with a history of recruiting waiters, cashiers, receptionists, caddies, and bus boys -- typically after one encounter -- and making them successful senior level executives for his company.

In my inspiring interview with him, I asked him how he knows they'll be a fit after one encounter? His response? "[I] look for energy, enthusiasm and trying to discern if they understand and are compatible with our giving culture as a company. The interaction of questions and general talking one-on-one with the prospective franchisee/employee helps us make the decision using our intuition."

Cancro says he can line up 15 people in a room, look at each person and say "that one and that one." He adds, "It's difficult to describe what I'm looking for. I've seen what works and what doesn't; it's a gut feeling I have."

His psychic-like intuitiveness informs him of who's a good match just by the way they walk and how they slice meat and cheese. 

How to trust your intuition

So how can you trust that what your intuition is telling you is really the direction you should go? I'll leave you with eight clues your inner-voice may one day be dropping on your noggin. The question is, are you willing to listen, process, trust, and act on your intuition? 

  1. A feeling that something doesn't feel quite right.
  2. A feeling that you don't really feel comfortable doing or agreeing to something.
  3. A small voice that says, "This is not what I really want," or "I don't like what I am agreeing to, or part of me doesn't."
  4. A feeling that something may be violating an important value or belief.
  5. I small voice that says, "I am going to resent this later," or "I resent this now."
  6. A feeling that you're tempted to do something, but deep down you know you shouldn't.
  7. A small voice that says, "I wish this were not happening."
  8. A feeling that something feels the same as the last time.