Leadership & Management

The six cardinal sins of leadership!

The six cardinal sins of leadership

Leadership and the cardinal sins

Generally, leaders are lavishly praised with superlative accolades. This seemingly unexplained attraction can be attributed to various reasons ranging from seeking direction and guidance to simple adulation, and some possibly even “brown nosing”, with an intent to curry favor from these leaders.

Most leaders with whom that I had the pleasure and privilege to work with, and to whom that I looked up to, had a good ounce of one or many of the traits that we all admire in people. These traits include

  • Charisma
  • Resolve and steadfastness
  • Humility
  • Relatively perceived higher intelligence
  • Pleasant disposition
  • Fair and balanced
  • Strategic, change and result-orientation
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There is a charm about the forbidden that is unspeakably desirable.”

john lincoln, author


I am sure that there are many other attributes and traits that attract us to leaders, so the list above is not mutually exclusive or completely exhaustive.

Despite the very positive traits that we see in leaders, what most folks don’t realize or don’t get is the fact that their leaders are mere mortals just like them.

People need to realize that leaders have their own insecurities, trepidations, idiosyncrasies, temptations and fallibilities and other challenges that every human possess. Some leaders are acutely aware or have disciplined themselves to mask these challenges into a façade of perfect blissful nirvana.

Whilst most leaders are good, decent and dedicated and committed beings, there are some who are just plain “sinful”. Some of these leaders try to mask their “evil” whilst others don’t even pretend.

Most of us blessed to be addressed as or considered, as leaders are just ordinary folks who worked hard and smart, and just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Most of us do have the frails and fallibilities that most mortals have.

However, there are 6 cardinal sins that any leader must avoid. These are venomous, cruel and a divider of teams that could bring a company or a majority of its employees down.

Here are the 6 cardinal sins of leadership that a leader and his follower must be aware of and watch out for. They are not so obvious to the naked eye and these traits and or leaders such are most often latent and camouflaged.

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1. Egomania – “Nothing is more important than my egomania”

Egomaniacal leaders have an obsessive preoccupation with themselves with delusions of their own grandeur. They are always right and have all the answers. They do not respect or leverage the different skills and capabilities of different team members to maximize an outcome. They have a dictum of “I am the greatest”.

Egomaniacal leakers can be can be identified through their constant ridicule and put down of others, often exacerbated when they are proven wrong, due to their own inferiority complex and insecurities.

2. Greed (or avarice) – When morality comes up against profit (greed), it is seldom that profit loses”

Every corporate leader worth his mettle expects outsized compensation, power and recognition. Unlike many, I believe these leaders deserve it for the enormous and insurmountable responsibilities they carry, and the incremental value that these leaders are expected generate to generate for their companies.

The cardinal sin in leadership relating to greed that I detest is the lack of consideration and awareness of the needs and welfare of the others. This pivotal to greed at the company’s or their employees expense is what that I abhor the most.

Some leaders do not care nor take any remedial actions to address the shortcomings and needs of their teams’ compensation, development, promotion, and others.

These same leaders spend extended efforts to ensure that the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed to ensure full and fair coverage of their own compensation documents and agreements.

These leaders will not lift a finger to address their teams’ needs. This utter lack of conscience reflects their ignorance as to the fact that their success is derived not from their exalted positions but rather only through the sweat and hard work of their teams.

These leaders often direct strategy or tactics to benefit and enhance their compensation packages at the expense of their employees.

3. Extreme wrath and revenge – “men often make up in wrath what they want in reason”

Anger and annoyance are sins that most mere mortals commit. But extreme wrath and vexation compounded with resentful and vengeful indignation is deadly sinful and rare. These leaders will not bat an eyelid to remove or fire some one for the most mundane of reasons just so that their vengeful goals are attained.

4. Apathy or sheer lack of empathy – “We may have found a cure for most evils; but we have found no remedy for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings”.

As humans, we are all expected to at least feel sympathy or concern for our fellow mankind in trouble or peril. This apathy or lack of empathy among leaders is sinful and shocking. The indifference, passivity and detachment of some leaders to their employees’ well being is remarkable and surprising. Leadership requires that a leader have traits of emotionally intelligence – a key integral of which is to put themselves in the frame of their teams.

Leaders are expected to respect other points of reference given all of us are diverse in our upbringing, cultural, financial, functional and educational backgrounds.

This empathy for putting ourselves in some one else’s shoes helps a leader to frame a situation or problem better. A leader with dispassion or utter lack of concern for others should not be addressed or considered a leader.

5. Characterless – “character not circumstances, make the person”

An invertebrate, namby-pamby limbless leader will never stand up for their company or their team. These limp wristed, flaccid and weak leaders will be taken advantage of and their teams made to suffer for their ineffectual leadership.

These weaklings who have been exalted to a position lf leadership do a lot of damage to their companies and teams by just not doing anything or not rectifying something that is wrong in the first place.

6. Tactical trivilist – “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”

Some leaders just do not have the mental faculty or the orientation to “separate the forest from the trees”. They get caught up in the mire of processes and irrelevant mundane details wherein they lose sight of their primary objective of creating incremental value for their stakeholders.

These leaders with their tedious, monotonous and prosaic attention for the mundane not just deplete their teams’ energies but also their shareholders funds by not focusing on what is right for the business.

Attention to detail is a necessity but a strategic understanding and view and incremental value creation orientation is a must for any business leader

In conclusion, avoid or run away or be wary of such leaders. The sooner you get away from them the better.


JohnLincoln.oneThe business growth hacker


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