5 Deadly Sins of Business

Last updated 11th of July 2018

Author Martin Burgess-Moon

Confession Time: 5 Deadly Sins of Business

This past couple of years we’ve seen the collapse – or partial collapse – of some pretty big names in the world of business,  from High Street favourites such as BHS, Toys R Us and House of Fraser to the service provider, Carillion.  

The BBC recently published an article that wielded the title, “The Deadly Sins of Business”.  We’re not saying that the above-mentioned businesses were guilty of these “Sins” but the article was interesting timing.  It was also interesting reading for us, mainly because many of these “Sins” could be rectified by what we do at Fresh Air to assist businesses - communication.

We’ll take a look at these one by one.  There aren’t seven by the way.  This isn’t Biblical or anything to do with Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow and that actor that we’re not allowed to talk about these days.  There are in fact FIVE “Deadly Sins of Business”.

Update: we've recorded a Podcast about Seven Deadly Sins of Business. Click here to jump to the page.


The BBC article mentioned that budget airlines, in particular, were guilty of this one.  You know, providing cheap flights, doing well at it and then costs go up but they still offer the cheap flights and end up making a loss.

You could apply this to any form of success.  You discover a gap in the market or something you’re particularly good at and you go at it hell for leather.  But then markets change, customer tastes change and everyone moves on… except you.  Don’t get carried away or you could get left behind (if that’s not a contradiction in terms).  Always review the market and get customer feedback.

Sin Two: FEAR

Not your fear.  We’re talking about the fear that employees have for their managers in some businesses.  There’s a surprising amount of businesses that run on fear.  Colleagues desperately worried for their jobs, the company being run like a dictatorship and everyone keen to do and say anything that will please their boss.

This can result in colleagues going to crazy lengths to do exactly that, such as falsifying projections and figures, lying and burying bad news.  The result?  Your company could be in bad shape or heading that way and you know nothing about it.  Why?  Because everyone is scared to tell you the truth.

We can help your business communicate, and promote what you do... Click to get in touch.

Sin Three: GREED

Ah, this sin is definitely Biblical.  We could bang on about greed in its many forms for hours.  Instead, we’ll talk about those men (and yes, it’s usually men) at the top of businesses who spend so much time thinking about how much they can pay themselves and their other top execs that they neglect the workers and the rest of the business.

Are things going well?  Great.  Then share that wealth throughout the organisation and not just within the top brass.  Because when things are going badly and everyone finds out just how much you’ve been paying yourselves, you won’t be doing yourself any favours.  Just ask Philip Green.

Sin Four: HUBRIS

Otherwise known as “excessive pride or self-confidence”.  The BBC article retells the tale of the new Chief Exec joining Northern Rock after its collapse, finding palatial offices and luxurious new but incomplete headquarters and being somewhat gob-smacked.  Why?

You might think that if you’re the boss and you’ve worked hard to get there, you deserve a nice office and an equally nice building in which to stick it.  Well, possibly.  No-one begrudges you an office.  But if that office is way too plush, how is that going to look when times are hard?  If your HQ is so lofty that you’re cut off from the shop floor, how are you going to know what’s REALLY going on?  It’s difficult to have a “my door’s always open” policy if everyone is miles away from that door.

Don’t lose touch with the workforce.  You need to be seen, you need to know what’s going on and you need to be not just seen as being accessible… but actually BE accessible.  Once you’ve lost touch, you could end up losing a lot more.


Re-branding, embracing every new management fad or fashion and spending a king’s ransom on management consultants can mask a multitude of sins.  There can be so much happening on the surface that it’s distracting everyone from the problems the business is actually facing.

There’s also the risk that when consultants from outside the business are hired, there’s a certain amount of “outsourcing responsibility”, meaning that major decisions are being made by those that aren’t directly involved with the business.  If they don’t have all the facts, they shouldn’t be telling you what decisions to make.


Do you recognise any of these sins?  If so, it’s time to pop into the confessional box and have a chat with us here at Fresh Air Group.  We specialise in communication.  We help management teams and CEOs at some pretty top-notch businesses communicate with their colleagues.

We help business leaders communciate using internal podcasts... Click to get in touch.

This can be done as a podcast or as an interview.  Or even lots of people gathered together to sound like a radio programme.  Colleagues can listen in and are given the option to react to the programme with feedback or questions, which can be covered in future editions of the programme.

This makes the management team human, friendly, approachable and open.  This in turn puts colleagues at ease and helps them feel that they can be more honest and inquisitive about their roles, their work and the business as a whole.

Open and honest communication creates real teamwork.  That open door is now not just in your office.  It’s a virtual open door that can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Click to send us a message, or talk to our team on 020 7100 7986 to find out how you can be the star of your own show and communicate better with your team.

Oh… and the original BBC article is here if you fancy taking a look: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43374755

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