Green flags. Yellow flags. Red flags. Our careers and full of them!

Green flags make life easy

We would love our career to be full of green flags. This is when things flow easily, things are clicking, our team is rowing in the same direction, and work is progressing in alignment with our values.

Hopefully this happens often for you.

At different points in your career and leadership, you can probably point to green flag time periods. Unlike yellow and red flags, these are moments that produce energy and fulfillment.

Yellow may make you pause

Then there are the times when yellow flags pop up. This might be when you take a promotion to lead a team but you aren’t sure if the right players are in place. Or it might be when you agree to taking on a new project without vetting it as much as you had hoped.

The yellow flags should give us pause. We should use it as an opportunity to process the situation before making a conscious choice to move forward or away from it. They aren’t always as easy to recognize as green flags, but you will always be sure they aren’t a red flag!

Red stops you hard in your tracks

The red flags are tricky. I’ve been talking to some clients about this lately.

We think they would be easy to spot. It’s the toxic work culture that we overlook because the job sounds so great, or the company is a dream company. The “opportunity” to take a promotion under a bad leader with the promise that the leader is on his way out soon. The cross-functional project you are chosen to lead with peers who feel threatened by your role.

We often ask, who can’t see those red flags?

As an outsider we can see them. But why can’t people see them when they are in the midst of it? It’s hard. We try and logic our way around the red flags. We rationalize how we can overcome the obstacles, and how we have the resilience to wait out a bad situation, or how the positives will definitely outweigh any negatives we encounter.

All of those things might be true. Though, we don’t often look at the other side. What could it cost us? What could be the negative implications or ignoring red flags be? How is this moving us toward our goals, toward our purpose? Are there other ways of achieving those goals or moving toward that purpose that wouldn’t be as painful? 

Acknowledging the red flag for what it is

The important thing is to recognize the red flag: to see it for what it is and not to ignore it.

Don’t just close your eyes and hope it’s not there. Stop looking to the right or left of it, but truly stop and recognize it.

Then it’s time to explore the decision. Don’t simply stick to the logic though. We are smart. Our brain can find many ways to make a situation seem bearable. Seriously, I am sure you can find some examples in your life. I know I can!

Conquering red flags with your gut, heart, and head

Also, review your values. Is this decision in alignment with your values, the things that are most important to you? What is your intuition or inner wisdom telling you? What does your body say? We need to be in alignment with our decisions, in our gut (wisdom), heart (values), head (logic). Does this decision feel in alignment? If not, what feels off?

In the end, you may choose the red flag opportunity. It all comes back to conscious choice. I encourage you to make sure that you are consciously choosing to move in that direction after you have reviewed the choice through the lens of full alignment.

Do you need help conquering the red flags? Learn more about our executive coaching program!