Leaders - Look out for Yellow Lights
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Leaders – Look out for Yellow Lights

- Venkataraman Subramanyan

The past 24 months has been a wonderful journey of coaching scores of leaders – in reflecting on these engagements, and the challenges and opportunities that these leaders face, there is one insight that I wanted to share: These are the Yellow Lights that leaders see, but race past.

Allow me to clarify on what Yellow Lights mean – these are signals that provide you crucial information on your current state of Leadership, and merit us to slow down, rather than ignore and rush forward. 

Let me share a few instances of these Yellow Lights, and you can then provide me feedback on whether you have seen them on your Leadership journey: 

  1. That strange emptiness within you – You are a successful leader, and have worked hard to get to where you are now. Now that you are in this high, respectable position, you realize that the drive and enthusiasm no longer exists. This is the Yellow Light that highlights the lack of alignment to your purpose. Leaders sometimes make the mistake of switching jobs or roles to fill this vacuum, only to discover that it does not go away. The best advice in these situations is to set aside 20 minutes every day to meditate to discover the compass with you and the direction that you were born to set. 
  2. Your peers are getting promoted at every cycle: It is amazing that leaders sometimes take three years to accept that this is happening – until then, they have been rationalizing these moves as just organizational adjustments. In this age of increased automation, irrelevance stalks us every day. Increasing your awareness of your knowledge, skill and behaviour gaps is only one side of the story. It is your ability to “sharpen your saw” every week and your ability to make sense of this VUCA/ SMACA world that is going to help you navigate and build the skills to stay relevant.
  3. Your next move is 24 – 36 months away: This is the classic “faraway carrot” yellow light. Your career discussions are robust – however, you next move is a position that has a chance of opening up in 24 to 36 months. In this day and age, who know what is going to happen in 2- 3 years? Please confront this yellow light, else leaders run the risk of leading life in a “false reality”
  4. People get down to emails when you start talking in meetings: Most leaders who have confronted this either try to use authority to gain compliance, or ignore it as bad attitude. This Yellow Light is only an indication that there is no proactive insight or value in your presentation. When others are distracted, it becomes your responsibility to dial up the value and connection of the discussion. Like I always say, every powerful meeting is 3 parts preparation and 1 part execution.
  5. You are given a respectable position with no authority: This is called the parking slot. In fact, it is the handicapped person slot. This is a yellow Light that says that you are quickly on your path to irrelevancy. The parking slot is only to get the juices left in you and is a one way street to oblivion. This is also a sign that reads “Get out while you still can – respectfully”

Please feel free to share other Yellow Lights that you are observing within your organizations. The key takeaway is the need to slow down, contemplate, and then take action to get your Leadership to the Next Level – slow down to speed up!!


Venkataraman Subramanyan is a Global Leadership Development Expert & Sales Coach. He is the Founder and CEO of Tripura Multinational. Venkat’s mission is to touch and transform a hundred million lives by 2025, and a billion lives by 2030. With over 30 years of experience, Venkat is passionate about 2 things – Leadership Transformation and Sales Acceleration. His trademarked deal qualification framework is licensed worldwide by organizations and filters over $3Billion in deals annually. He is an accredited member of the Forbes Coaches Council.

Tripura Multinational is a dynamic sales organization dedicated to empowering sales professionals and organizations to achieve unparalleled success. Originally established as a platform to address skill gaps in the sales industry, Tripura has evolved into a multi-faceted entity that offers comprehensive engagements for Sales Managers and Sales Leaders. Through the transformative power of Sales Coaching, Tripura enables sales organizations to elevate their performance from good to great and ultimately reach a world-class level. Our approach focuses on optimizing sales skills, management expertise, and leadership capabilities, helping clients plan more effectively, qualify leads better, orchestrate sales processes seamlessly, and expand their business with confidence. 

Our organisation is the trusted choice of market leaders across various industries and segments, relying on our expertise to elevate their performance to new heights. Recognized for our ability to enhance excellence, we are entrusted with the task of making the client’s best even better.

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