THE BLOG

The 7 Modern Deadly Sins of Digital Leadership

18/08/2015 17:10 BST | Updated 17/08/2016 10:59 BST

How do we create and nurture a leadership style that will be good for people, the planet and the society we live in?

I've been inspired by medical consultant Stefan Einhorn, a Swedish author and Professor of Molecular Oncology, who's written a book about the modern seven deadly sins.

The 'old' deadly sins, wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony, are more than 1,500 years old. In his research Einhorn surveyed and interviewed over 1,000 people in Sweden to learn what they thought were the seven modern deadly sins.

I've adapted these modern deadly sins and applied them to my digital leadership philosophy - which in this case can also be seen as leadership based on modern values.

All human beings have a range of traits and you need to recognise that you might have some of the bad ones to actually do something about them. One of the top features of great leadership is self-awareness.

7) Greed

This is the only one of the old deadly sins that made it to the new top seven. Greed in the modern world shows itself when we only think about ourselves. A whole organisational culture can be built on greed and destroy the organic system we live in. Short-term goals and investments can be made because of decisions motivated by greed. Many of the people involved in the FIFA scandal were driven by greed. Not very popular!

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We need to make investments that are good for the future and not just for individuals and small groups. Greed in the digital world is also about not sharing. The new economy is about sharing knowledge, resources, insights and many other things. We need leaders who know that sharing matters.

6) Xenophobia

The world is global and connected; people have different backgrounds and experiences. We organise ourselves into different groups, which can be anything really: by country, language, gender, favourite football team, school, the way we dress and so on. We differentiate ourselves by saying 'I'm not like them'. It's quick and simple. We blame problems on groups that are different from us. This is a critical and global issue. Every way in which we can develop our understanding of each other's differences and learn to accept them needs to be explored. Most importantly, learn about yourself and when you need to control your xenophobic impulses.

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5) Bigotry

Intolerance of other people's ideas, opinions and beliefs is poison to the world. Narrow thinking and having a narrow worldview doesn't create space for understanding and great leadership to develop. In the digital world leaders who are technophobes and against innovation and creativity are guilty of this modern sin.

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4) Bullying

Great leadership involves taking bullying and angry behaviour seriously. It needs to be on every leader's agenda to never tolerate any kind of repeatedly blunt and brash behaviour. In the dark corners of the web there are many trolls hiding; this cowardly behaviour needs to be prevented. Leaders in all organisations need to genuinely look into this problem.

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3) Ruthlessness

This trait is nothing to be proud of. Ruthless leaders, just stop it now. The world doesn't need this behaviour and if you are acting in this way you need to change now. It might have been good in the past when conquering new lands, but today? No, don't think so.

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2) Hatred

We can hate things and situations, but don't let your decisions be based on hate. Strive to understand the world around you. Decisions made when you are driven by hate will often be dangerous for others. Lots of madness in the world has been created because of frenzy and hate.

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1) Falsehood

There is nothing worse than people lying to us. We appreciate authentic people who are true to themselves and others. One thing that often comes up and seriously annoys people is people who steal credit and ideas from others. Hypocrisy and falsehood was voted the worst deadly sin by most people in Einhorn's research. Sincerity and good intentions are traits that we all appreciate.

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We need more leaders who are keen to explore their leadership style and behaviour. Nobody is totally evil, nor is anyone a saint. We all have different traits in varying degrees. Humans are complex creatures that are hard to fully understand. There is no single person who is perfect, but we can all work on our tolerance and acceptance of others. We live in this world together, not alone.

In some situations we care about our closest friends and family members, and in others we don't care about others at all. Maybe you have experienced a similar situation?

Thank you Stefan Einhorn for your inspiring research.

Images fotolia.com. Contributors: pathdoc, waldemarus, tostphoto, 1dbrf10, Francesco De Paoli, Krasimira Nevenova and momius