Good Intentions? Avoid The Road To Hell — Leadership Red Flags That Mean Trouble For The Team

Rowan Blair Colver
4 min readOct 25, 2021


Lucid Leadership by Rowan B. Colver

Other People’s Opinions Matter

Reputation is everything, it’s what makes your brand mean something to your customers. When we work for a brand, we are awarded the same reputation as the brand. People associate us with the company and treat us as one and the same. There are good reasons people want to be part of a big organisation. Some brands have huge implications that are extremely beneficial to be part of. Think of the BBC or John Lewis Plc. These famous British brands are synonymous with excellence and so working for them means you are also synonymous with excellence. This is why the behaviour and the culture of the company have to be green flags. Everything has to feel good and proper, to be synonymous with something highly desirable you must project that quality every time. Red flags will make your company reputation fail and for those who do not work for the brand, it’s easy to forward on unhelpful knowledge and opinion.

It can sometimes be difficult to recognise a red flag if you’re in the middle of the situation. When the leadership is applying pressure to achieve results and you’re made to feel responsible for the positive outcome then the behaviour being asked of you may not be immediately understood. We can look at some examples of red flags that, for struggling businesses especially, might seem like a good idea at the time but ultimately damage the brand.

Wasting Time For Profit

People expect prompt and efficient service. They don’t want you to make money from their time waiting for the end result. This can be delaying payments for extra interest or taking an extra day or two for the hours or any other sneaky method. Yes, we do need to watch the pounds, successful businesses don’t throw money away but they also provide a brilliant service. This can’t be done if we waste other people’s time and money. It is your reputation on the line, pay your people today. You’re getting a decent wage to show up every day, if you work slowly you will get a reputation for being slow and bad news talks.

Blatant Bias

Of course, you love your brand and you want to project it in the best light possible. You naturally are paid to support your brand and not the competitor brand. This being said, there is a difference between promoting your brand and making untrue claims. Bending the truth to sweeten the deal will backfire when your customer discovers the reality. Sometimes we want to be protective of the company we work for and naturally jump in with an instinctual desire to stand up for ourselves when the brand is under question. We need to control this as it’s at these times we’re most likely to say things we don’t know for certain.

Poor Ethics

Sometimes it’s easy to point at poor ethical decisions. Perpetuating misery or deliberately working to harm another individual or organisation is clearly unethical. Different communities have varying lines for what constitutes ethical or not. If we work internationally or online and are therefore accessible internationally, then it’s important to gauge the potential to break particular cultural taboos and avoid this risk. It may not directly implicate you either, but imagine if a person in a strict country was found looking at your website or wearing your t-shirt. Would they be persecuted for it? This must be avoided. Sometimes brands use taboos and unethical imagery as part of their style. If you look at many album covers, for example, the depictions often do not represent an ethical modern society. Art, because it’s only interpreted, has special rules that mean it can find a niche in areas other businesses cannot.

Breaking the Law

Rules and regulations might be a pain but they’re important to adhere to. There are a number of ways you could be asked to break the law, and some of them are really subtle. It’s easy to point out fraud and negligence leading to harm but when it’s a small job that doesn’t look important, we can sometimes be encouraged to cut corners. If we cut corners we end up with loose ends in the fabric and people will notice. It’s your freedom on the line if you break the law and if you’re the one who got the company in trouble it’s you who’ll be made responsible, even if you were doing what you were told. Everything from expenditures to health and safety has to be followed.

Recommended reading:

Reputation Management: The Key to Successful Public Relations and Corporate Communication

Strategic Reputation Management: Towards A Company of Good

Character Assassination and Reputation Management: Theory and Applications



Rowan Blair Colver

Music writer and humanities educator from Sheffield in England. Democracy of philosophy, comments are welcome.