Seven deadly sins of leadership
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - August 18, 2019 - 12:00am

Peter Drucker, the greatest management guru, never wrote a book dedicated to leadership; but, his thoughts on the topic are scattered through 40 books. William Cohen gathered his thoughts in a single book Drucker on Leadership. One of the most valuable lessons for today’s political and business leaders are the Seven Deadly Sins of Leadership. 

Sin of Pride. This sin is usually considered the most serious of the seven deadly sins. Feeling proud of what one has accomplished or is accomplishing is perfectly acceptable. The problem comes when leaders believe themselves so special that ordinary rules no longer apply. Generalized pride – as being opposed to being proud of specific things – is the most serious leadership sin because it can lead to the other six. 

Sin of Lust. There is unfortunately a feeling among some leaders sex is seen as some sort of fringe leadership benefit. The problems created for leaders because of this deadly sin seem almost without limit. A leader, for better or worse, is a role model for the organization he or she leads. Leaders often do not pay attention to avoiding this deadly leadership sin that affects their ability to lead.

Sin of Greed. The sin of greed is a sin of excess. It frequently starts with power.  Unfortunately having power has a tendency to lead to corruption if the leader isn’t careful. This may start with the acceptance of small favors and grow into accumulating vacations, bribes, and worse. 

Usually a leader sees others with more possessions, more power, more privileges and wonder why others have so much more, when, in the leader’s mind they are far less deserving. Cohen says: “Maybe a small bribe is accepted. The leader may not even see it as a bribe, just a favour between friends. If the leader allows seduction to take place, greed can take over.” 

Sin of Sloth. Cohen writes: “For the leader, the sin of sloth is associated with an unwillingness to act. Sometimes this is laziness. More often, it is an unwillingness to do work the leader considers beneath the dignity of the office. I have many times seen leaders watching critical work they could do as well as anyone – standing around ‘ supervising’ when they could have given real help to their subordinates and to the mission for which they were responsible.

Leaders are responsible for everything that their organization does or fails to do, and nothing can absolve a leader of this responsibility. Leaders do not sit around when they are needed. They don’t ignore their responsibilities... Leaders are proactive and they take action.”

Sin of Wrath. This sin has to do with uncontrolled anger. There is a time for anger in leadership when it serves a definite and useful purpose. Anger can mobilize an organization; but, leaders need to avoid repeated and uncontrolled anger because it can damage their leadership and destroy the organization’s morale. When in a state of anger, the leader loses the capacity to self monitor and ability to observe objectively. Drucker said that anger prevents leaders from making good decisions and perhaps from taking the appropriate action.  Actions taken in anger are almost invariably wrong and require additional work to undo the consequences later.

Sin of Envy. The leader is envious with what is accomplished and enjoyed by someone else. This sin usually leads the leader to make decisions and to take actions that will harm the object of envy. An envious leader may deny a well deserved promotion to a subordinate, destroy someone’s reputation, or try to lower the status of another. This is not only harmful to the object of envy; but, also hurts the organization and ultimately will harm the leader and the organization.

Sin of Gluttony.  Of all the deadly sins, gluttony is one that most frustrated Drucker. He spoke of executive salaries that were too high. Once awarded, an excessive benefit like this is hard to give up. It’s easy to rationalize – a status issue. He felt that executive hypercompensation was an accurate example of the sin of gluttony and was to be avoided for good leadership.

Cohen wrote that the heart of leadership were eight principles to which Drucker responded.

Integrity First.  “ [Followers] may forgive a man a great deal: incompetence, ignorance, insecurity, or bad manners. But they will never forgive him for lack of integrity.”

Know Your Stuff. “Leadership rests on being able to do something others cannot do at all or find difficult to do.”

Declare Your Expectations. “Each manager, from the big boss down to the production foreman or the chief clerk, needs clearly spelled out objectives.”

Show Uncommon Commitment. “The failure of many is because they show no commitment or commitment to wrong goals...Commitment comes from a worthy mission and then strong commitment.”

Expect Positive Results. “ One cannot be negative and succeed in anything.”

Take Care of Your People: “A leader has responsibilities to his subordinates, to his associates.”

Duty Before Self. “This should be the basis of all leadership. The leader cannot act in personal interests. It must be in the interest of the customer and worker. This is the great weakness of management today.”

Get Out in Front. “ junior leader or as CEO the leader must be where the work is most challenging.”

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on Sept. 7 and 21 (1:30 pm-3 pm; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC. Adult class on writing poetry with Gemino Abad on Sept. 28, 1:30-4:30 pm. For details and registration,  email

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