Our lives are an odd mixture of different moments. For some people, ‘today’ is a benchmark, a new
beginning. It is a milestone for some and a momentous day for others, a challenge for some and a
hardship for others. It is a pain for some and pleasure for others. The ‘now’ has a different significance
for different people and as we pass through it, we learn to better embrace it, in its full view and value.
Throughout life, a person undergoes many physical and emotional upheavals that shape them.
This transition starts right from birth and continues until death. The person you are today did not
happen by chance. You are a result of a confluence of millions of actions and inactions. Individuals
certainly have a genuine build-up over a period of time and a clear pathway that has led to this moment.
Similarly, the transition theory can be applied to organizations, governments, and even nations.
Moments of signals are constant throughout a person’s life, particularly on the ‘leadership journey’,
which is our main focus. We all can recall such signal moments in our lives—those moments which
shaped the way we view ourselves, our jobs, and our world. Like I had mine when I finished high
school, it could be a strong feeling about a successful interview. Maybe you are sensing a promotion at work. Maybe you are sensing someone’s love or sensing a favourable agreement. Even when sensing an unsuccessful attempt or sensing some unfavourable trade conditions you are sensing the signals around you. It’s even possible to sense the body’s breakdown due to poor health. Similarly, in business you need the ability to see clearly what’s going on in a constantly changing and complex environment.
MoS then refers to the capacity to be conscious of yourself, others, and the environment. It helps you
understand your strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and challenges. Signals help you know where you
need to change and what to learn. They give you the ability to tactfully change gears and to know at
what velocity you ought to do so. In short, what to do, what not to do, and when exactly to do it comes
more easily as you begin to become skilled in the art of catching signals.
Some react adequately enough and keep making those needed changes with the goal not only
to survive but also to shape the future. Some react to those signals but not adequately enough.
Sometimes, in the act of denial, we completely snub and ignore them. Acknowledging the need to
become better at anything is only the beginning, and it is often the most difficult step in the whole
process. In some instances, we aren’t exposed to the environment enough to sense those preparatory
signals. Preparatory signals mostly alert us to be swift at aligning with the need of the hour or face the
consequence of losing the ground. At the same time, we do not always trust the resources working
with us. For instance, a leader taking over a new company in a new region. This leader may either
choose to be a ‘know it all’ and start to push the operations from day one, or to stay alert for every
possible signal with the goal of creating a fertile environment for growth in the desired direction.
In such an environment, people come forward willingly to take responsibilities. Without being fully
conscious and understanding MoS, leaders can easily foster misalignment with their desired goals for
The more we rise in the ranks, the more we are exposed to dealing with organizational development
and relationship issues due to the increasing size of our team. Successful potential CEOs possess a strong sense of self-awareness that enables them to understand the signals that may sometimes be glaring and at other times, blocked by their own poor judgment.
The problem arises when MoS is used only occasionally rather than as a daily routine which ignites
powerful listening and observation skills that allow them to easily address the root causes of potential problems as they appear.
The acts of denial and poor decision-making are absolutely interlinked. Such a myopic approach
is the direct result of lack of understanding of the impact of MoS. Most of the time, we can see both
sides of the story in the same leader. Examples include Alexander the Great’s rise and fall, Hitler’s rise
and fall, and Nokia’s success and failure.
Examples of longevity, endurance, and prime-time leadership include DuPont, GE, Ford Motors,
Unilever, Panasonic, Abraham Lincoln, Jack Welsh, Warren Buffet, and other such top-class names.