Red flags of an untrustworthy manager

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Hey there! It’s Lindsay Lyman, and I’m back with another episode to help you navigate your career without losing your sanity. After almost 12 years at Amazon, I’ve seen countless brilliant, successful overachievers burn out and leave their jobs because of stress and anxiety. But guess what? You don’t have to sacrifice your mental health for your career. There’s an easier way, and I’m here to show you how.


Today, I want to remind you that if you’re feeling stuck, unmotivated, and constantly worried about your job, there are solutions out there. I’ve helped many people in your situation, and I genuinely believe that with more confidence and self-assurance, things will get better. We need emotionally intelligent leaders like you out there, making a positive impact.


So, if you’re struggling and want to feel in control of your career, handle difficult people, and stop working so much, I can help. The first step? Let’s have a coffee chat. It’s a free, no-obligation call where we dive into what’s going on with you and come up with actionable steps to get you on the right track. Head over to or click the link in the show notes to book your spot.


In this episode, we’re diving into a topic that came up during a fun discussion in my coaching program: red flags that your manager may not be trustworthy. We’ll talk about some not-so-obvious signs, potential yellow flags, and even some green flags to look for in a good manager. Trust me, these insights are going to be game-changers.


Here are a few key points we’ll cover:

– Red flags like inconsistent one-on-ones, managers who don’t bring their own team members, and leaders who gossip or dominate meetings.

– Yellow flags that might indicate potential issues, such as managers who never turn on their cameras or always go first in group discussions.

– Green flags that signal a great leader, like caring about you as a person, taking feedback seriously, and being transparent about changes.


As you listen, think about how these flags apply to your situation and how you can use this knowledge to ask better questions during interviews. And remember, you’re not alone. You don’t have to navigate this on your own. There are solutions, and I’m here to help you find them.


If you’re finding value in this podcast, let’s take it a step further. Book a coffee chat with me, and we’ll talk one-on-one about your specific challenges and come up with a plan to get you unstuck. These chats are free but limited, so grab your spot now. Click the link in the show notes or go to to sign up.


You got this. Let’s make your career work for you, not the other way around. Talk soon!


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Episode Transcript

Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman. I worked almost 12 years at Amazon and saw so many brilliant and successful overachievers burn themselves out and leave their jobs because they’re so stressed and anxious. But guess what? Having a successful career does not have to be at the expense of your mental sanity and personal time. There’s an easier way, and I can show you how. Let’s do this!


Okay, I want to remind you if you are really struggling in your job, if you feel stuck, you’re not motivated, you’re dragging yourself through the day, you don’t feel confident and secure that you’re going to be able to keep your job, so you feel like you can’t push back or speak up, you’re worried about retaliation, there are solutions out there. I can help. This is what I do. I want to help you. I genuinely believe the more confident, the more self-assured, the more trusting each of you feels, the better it’s going to get. We need emotionally intelligent leaders like you out there.


So, if you’re struggling and feeling stuck, and you want to feel in charge of your career, you want to deal with those hard people, you want to have hard conversations, you want to stop working too much, you want to start doing those things you know you should be doing, I can help. The very first step is to get on a call with just you and me. We’re going to have a coffee chat. There’s no cost, zero strings attached, or obligation. All we’re going to do is dive into what’s going on with you, and you’re going to leave this call with a clear plan of the things you can work on. You’re going to get some actionable things you can implement right away, and you’re going to know the root cause of some of this frustration and the path to get where you want to go. That’s it. You’ve got nothing to lose but everything to gain. Go to or click the link in the show notes. Grab some time on my calendar.


I will also warn you, if there isn’t any availability showing, check back often because it’s summer. I’m not doing as many of these, and my spots are filling up really fast. But you guys, you don’t have to do this alone. It’s not supposed to be this hard. There are solutions. Okay, let’s just you and I connect.


So, today I want to talk about what are some red flags to look out for that your manager may not be trustworthy. This came up as a topic, and we had some fun discussion on it in my coaching program. I do one-on-one coaching with people. It’s just you and I privately on the phone, but we also do a call every month where we pick a different topic, dive into it, ask questions, and have a great group discussion. This came up as we were talking about what do you do when you don’t trust your manager? How do you realistically do that? It’s not an option to just quit your job. Some of us are stuck in the job for various reasons. So what do you do? That’s what we are diving into.


But today, I want to talk about what are some of the red flags you should watch out for. By no means is this a comprehensive list, and I want to try to talk about some of the ones that I feel maybe aren’t so obvious. I also want to talk about what are some yellow flags, some things that might potentially be an indicator that your manager isn’t very trustworthy. And we’re going to talk about what are some green flags. What are the things you should look for if you are shopping around for a new job? What are some things you should dive into to make sure that they’re there? If you see those, that’s a green flag. That’s a go.


So, red flags that your manager isn’t trustworthy. The first one: if they’re not very consistent with one-on-ones. Now, I get it. The more senior you get, the crazier our schedules get. But you should have a regular cadence set for how often you and your manager are going to meet. If they’re very inconsistent with that, not rescheduling it, and not actually showing up to it, that is definitely a red flag. Something’s going on, and you’re kind of being put to the side. Now, it’s different when you’re very capable and highly functioning, and things are chaotic, and your manager says, “Hey, you’re good. I need to step back and deal with this thing. If you need something, come to me.” That’s totally different. Your manager should have communicated that ahead of time. But if they’re inconsistent with their one-on-ones, this is a red flag that they may not be trustworthy. This is something you can kind of sniff out through the interview process by asking to talk to some people that this manager manages. It’s a great thing to look into.


One of my biggest red flags when new managers or new leaders come to my team is if they don’t come with other people. So let me tell you what I mean by that. At Amazon, literally almost to the calendar day, every six months we would reorg. That usually means there’s some shift in leadership. Some leaders rotate, move on to other things, and new leaders come in. When the good ones come in, when the good leaders come along, there are good people that follow them wherever they go. Now, I’m not saying a good leader is going to come in and eliminate some of the people that are already on the team to make room for their people. Not at all. But a good leader, as new positions become available, they have great people that want to come and work for them. Because, as you know, it’s hard to find a good leader that you like, connect with, and trust. When we find that, we stick with them. There were multiple leaders I followed through two or three different rotations at Amazon because I liked working for them. So as new managers or new leaders come into your org, if they’ve been at your company or in this industry for a while and they don’t have a handful of people that want to come work with them again, that’s kind of a red flag in my book.


Here’s another red flag I see a lot: when your leader is complaining about other people or other teams after an encounter with them, but to their face, they’re very nice, cordial, and happy. To me, this just tells me they’re extremely immature and they love to play in the drama. And I’ll admit, I’m a human. We all gossip. We all get into that. But if your manager is putting on a face in front of these people and then talking crap about them behind their back, I promise you they have no problem doing the same for you. I always say, if you’re not willing to say it to my face, don’t say it behind my back. I can handle a lot. You can say a lot to my face, I really can. But if your manager tends to throw teams or people under the bus in private but won’t have those hard conversations in person, definitely a red flag. They are playing the game.


Here’s another red flag I see a lot: when your leader is dominating the meeting and won’t let their team members speak up and answer questions to other leaders. This just shows that it’s a very emotionally immature leader. They’re making it all about them, they’re not comfortable with what their team members are going to say, and they’re trying to take credit for the work and own the narrative and the conversation. This is a major red flag to me. I hate being micromanaged, and this is one way that leaders do it, by trying to keep their team quiet in front of their senior leaders to control the narrative. I’m like, no. Your job is to lead. It’s not to dictate. Let your people speak up, let them speak for themselves, and it’s okay if they say something you disagree with. You handle that appropriately. But if your manager won’t let the team speak up to their managers, that’s definitely a red flag.


And here’s kind of the last red flag I see a lot, kind of common: if they’re messaging you off hours and they expect you to respond. I’m not talking about the leader that says, “Hey, I might email you or ping you at all hours of the day. You are not responsible for replying to me.” Good leaders set that expectation. Or if you’re on call, or I’ve had managers say, “Hey, heads up, we’ve got this thing happening this weekend with this executive. I might need to ping you.” Totally different. Go back and listen to that episode of how do you have trust. That’s being transparent and being clear and consistent in expectations. But if they don’t respect your hours when you’re not working, 100% a red flag. You do not want to get yourself in a situation where it’s not okay for you to take a break.


So, let’s talk a minute about what are some possible yellow flags that your manager may not be very trustworthy. One of them I see is if your manager won’t turn on their camera when you have calls. If you’re working in a remote setting, and it’s pretty typical for us to dial in, I get that. Sometimes I’m like, I just can’t today. I’m not turning on my video call for various reasons. There are some meetings I have where I would always take them while I was on a walk. Awesome. But I’m talking about if they don’t ever turn on their camera. To me, that’s just odd and weird. Something’s going on. Now again, I say this as a yellow flag because there could be legitimate reasons why. I used to work with a lot of introverts as well, and being on camera was emotionally exhausting for them. You may have a manager that’s an introvert. That’s okay. So, I say this isn’t a total red flag in my book, but if they’re never willing to go on camera, maybe even sometimes during your one-on-one, that’s when I was like, “This maybe could turn into a red flag, maybe a green flag.” It could go either way.


Here’s another yellow flag I see. In a group meeting, if they’re always the one to go first and kind of dominate the conversation. Again, I say this is a yellow flag because there are certain times and areas where we need strong strategic leadership, and it’s a waste of time to let everyone else hem and haw and give their opinion when, at the end of the day, the leader knows the direction we should be going. Just state it. But if they’re always going first, if they’re always dominating the conversation, this is just another way that they’re micromanaging. Good leaders will purposely let their team give comments and feedback and will make a point not to give their opinion first because they know it will bias the opinion of others in the room. But again, yellow flag. There’s a time and a place and a time and a place.


Okay, and the last yellow flag I see is when your leader doesn’t understand what you do. I work with a handful of clients that are very frustrated with their managers because they manage them, and they have no idea how to help them in their space. Now, I say this as a yellow flag because sometimes what you need out of your manager isn’t like the tactical help. So, I’ve done a lot of advertising, I’ve done a lot of marketing, I’ve done a lot of account management. I’m like, “Yeah, I could do that.” I’ve also managed engineers, I’ve managed research analysts, I’ve managed business intelligence leaders, data analysts, like all these people that I have no business managing because that is not my area of expertise at all. But again, it depends on what you need from your manager. To me, I’m like, “Are they setting you up for success? Are they helping you get the resources you need to learn and grow at the tactical skills of your job? Are they blocking escalations and allowing you the focus time you need to deliver and do your work right?” This may not be a bad thing. However, if you need someone with those technical skills and technical understanding because they can’t effectively manage you, it might turn into a red flag. Okay, so again, to me, this is kind of a yellow flag. It really depends on the situation.


So, here’s some green flags that I’m like, “Yes, this is my kind of leader.” Now, this may not be your kind of leader. You should know what are your green flags when looking for a good manager, looking for a good leader. You should have a list just as long of green flags as you have of red flags. For me, a huge green flag, and one I always try to operate from, is I want to work for a leader that cares about me as a person before they care about me as an employee. Right? I want to know they are in it for me and all of me. I am not just an employee. I am a human that is an employee, that is a parent, that has a lot of different labels of a lot of different parts of my life that are all important to me. I want to work for a leader that acknowledges that and supports me in that as best as they can.


A green flag for me in a manager is someone that can not only hear feedback, right, they can take it, they can hear it, they ask for it, they encourage it, but they also try to find ways to actually apply it. The opposite of that would be a red flag for me. I’m like, “Shame on you,” because now you know and you’re choosing not to do anything about it. But managers that can hear feedback and try things to apply it—I’m not saying they’re perfect, I’m not saying it actually works, but they’re trying—that’s a green flag to me. They are coachable, they are agile, they are here to just get better and make it work for everyone. They’re not here for their ego and some alternative agenda.


Another green flag is a manager that asks your opinion and lets you take the chance and lead things, that gives you opportunities to fail but supports you through it and tries to set you up for success. They care about you and your opinion. Again, they’re not in it for their ego and think they’re the only ones that know the answer.


Another green flag for a good leader is one that can cover all the crap that falls from the leaders above them. In my time at Amazon, I had some amazing leaders that did a great job at this. As I became more senior and was more exposed to that, I learned to appreciate this even more. But there’s a lot of churn and back and forth and drama and politics and all sorts of things that my good managers did a great job of keeping from me when I didn’t need to be in the churn of it and then would be transparent and let us know as a team what the update was once they had finally come to a decision.


Here’s another green flag I see in good leaders. More often than not, they say, “I don’t know,” and they don’t say it apologetically. They don’t say it to get empathy. They don’t say it to be the victim. But they are very confident when they need to say, “I don’t know,” because they’re also confident in their ability to lead the right people through, including themselves, to figure it out. It’s a great green flag in my book.


And the last green flag I want to talk about is a good manager tells you why you’re making some changes and they give you the time or a plan needed to make that change. Even if the answer is, “You know, I’m not sure why, but this is what we’re being asked to do,” they explain why we’re making changes, and they set you up for success with the right tools or the right timing or the right implementation needed to make those changes.


So, if you don’t already have a list of red flags, yellow flags, and green flags, I would encourage you to have one and think, “How do these apply to you and what you’re doing and how you’re showing up? And as you’re looking for other opportunities, how are you kind of using this as a filter to ask better questions through the interview process to suss out these types of things?”


All right, y’all. You got this. We’ll talk soon. If what you’re learning from this podcast is helping, this is just the beginning. Each week, I offer a limited number of coffee chats so that you and I can connect one-on-one and talk specifically about what’s going on for you. You’ll leave this call feeling more hopeful and motivated, but I’m also going to teach you a few things to try right away to get unstuck. Space is very limited, and these are free, so grab your spot before they’re gone. Click the link in the show notes or go to and sign up today. You got this.

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Hey, I’m Lindsay Lyman

I spent the last ~12 years growing my career at Amazon. I’ve built teams, launched new products, and created my own jobs. As a certified coach, I teach people how to manage the noise in their head to feel motivated and valued at work again.

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