Three Yellow Flags

Karl Bimshas
4 min readOct 26, 2022
Three Yellow Flags by Karl Bimshas

Here are three common leadership occurrences that are yellow flags you will want to check for in your company.

  1. The need to tell others you have an open-door policy. Think about it, do you feel compelled to inform people that you have an open-door policy? What is going on in your culture that a leader, no matter how well-intentioned, has to voice an unofficial “policy” that states, “I’m available to talk to you.” Are you working with leaders who are not available to talk with their team members? If so, they are miscast.
  2. An anonymous suggestion box. Why do you need a suggestion box? It implies there isn’t an existing avenue of transparent communication that employees can have with other decision-makers within the organization. Is transparent communication not something the leaders in your organization value? Have you found that employees prefer to have the option for anonymous suggestions? Why is that? Are you worried about receiving recommendations or requests that others may not want to hear or that you cannot deliver? Why?
  3. Anytime there are surprises in a written performance review, someone goofed. A formal performance review is not the time to share the organization’s heartfelt “disappointment” in somebody’s performance. Did they not know that as soon as the infraction occurred? As the leader, have you not worked with them to help remedy missteps? When poor performance first comes up in a written document — you’re too late. What were you waiting for?

Culture leaves clues, and these three clues reveal symptoms of a leadership team with suboptimal performance. What yellow flags would you add?

2-Week Notice

You can tell a lot about the quality of a leader based on how they treat someone who gives their two-week notice.

Lousy leaders tend to feel betrayed and think you owe them more than the ample courtesy you provided. They recite long monologues on how the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

The weakest among them act like a frat boy jilted at the bar. They pretend you are the most amazing person in the world, but when it becomes clear that you’re not interested, they flip a switch and treat you like dirt. They feel rejected and instinctively begin gaslighting.

“You were never really that good at the job anyway.”

“Your heart wasn’t into it.”

“You never seemed like a team player,” or any other made-up nonsense that protects their ego, so they don’t look like a failure. But they fail at this too.

It can be jarring and upsetting if you are surprised by this weak and lousy leader. Take solace in knowing that you made the right choice to escape the clutches of that abusive environment.

For effective leaders who pay attention, two-week notices don’t typically come as a surprise. Good leaders often help plan the exit. It’s not unusual for the employee who has chosen to leave to apologize to their “good boss” for their decision.

Good leaders though perhaps disappointed in the loss of a talented colleague, are quick with their support and praise. They do not get blindsided because they have succession plans in place. They celebrate their time together and wish you success in your next endeavor.

Lousy leaders are good with camouflage, but effective leaders can suss them out. Be an effective leader.

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Karl Bimshas

Boston-bred and California-chilled Leadership Adviser | Writer | Podcast Host who helps busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.