The Seven Deadly Sins of Leadership

Posted on July 13, 2015 in: Articles

Recently I came across an article called The Seven Deadline Sins of Leadership by Mike Figliuolo. Of course I found the title provocative, so I checked it out and found lots of good food for thought. To see Figliuolo’s complete essay, click on the link above. A quick summary of it from yours truly follows.

1. Lust — Dress nice but don’t try to be too “sexy” or even charismatic. Appearances are obvious — but also pretty transparent. Instead on trying to exploit any of your physical attributes, rely on your behaviors and solid achievements to draw people to your team and to motivate them. Better to build your own brand of leadership than to rely on fashion brands and fleeting fads.

2. Gluttony — Resources are scarce, but if you have them, resist the temptation to hoard them. Instead, do your best to see they are deployed in the most effective way possible. When you’re offered resources, never take more than you need. Resource hogs don’t get the cooperation they’ll eventually need to be effective on a larger scale.

3. Greed — Let me quote Figliuolo here: “If you’re in leadership role for the money, you’ve got it all wrong. You’re responsible for the care and feeding of the people around you. Doing it for cold, hard cash is the antithesis of being a servant leader. .. Keep your priorities straight – if you lead well, the compensation will naturally follow.”

4. Sloth — Being lazy is a recipe for disaster — because it’s contagious. Your team members will mimic your behavior. So while you’re getting very little done personally, they’re making sure your entire team effort is anemic. Meanwhile, highly-motivated people on your team will be looking for winning opportunities elsewhere. 

5. Wrath — Figliuolo quotes Ice Cube, a rapper: “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” If you get a reputation as a hot head, you’ll get no good feedback because everyone else is busy avoiding you. When you’re tempted to lash out in anger, take a day before taking any action — especially if you plan to put it in writing. As my dad frequently reminded: “He who angers me conquers me.”

6. Envy — Focus on your team members and your mission. Forget about obsessing on the roles, possessions and achievements of others. When we get trapped in a comparison paradigm, we lose twice. First, we lose in the comparison we chose to dwell on. And second, we lose our focus on what really matters. Going lose-lose is not the way to win.

7. Pride — This gets special treatment in our focus on EGO as Edging God Out. When we put ourselves first, we are inviting disaster. Remember that singing your praises is always someone else’s job — your boss or your clients or customers. Your job is to do the best you can to serve and foster growth in all your constituencies. And when you do hear their praise, don’t listen to closely. As an actor once noted, “We’re only as good as our last performance.” Focus on performance and that won’t be a problem for you.

Finally, if these “seven deadly sins of leadership” appear to be familiar, they should be. They are, in fact, the seven classic deadly sins, identified in Christian tradition centuries ago. They’re so deadly because they’re dangerous in every context — at home, at work, in our all our roles and relationships. Avoid them everywhere and your life will be both much easer and vastly more rewarding. 

Owen Phelps, Ph.D.
Director, Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute

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