Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony – they're the vices that would see any repeat offender struggling to scale the stairway to heaven, according to early Christian teachings.
While a little Gordon Gecko-style greed may be considered more virtue than vice in the corporate arena, the modern world of work has its own set of cardinal sins.
Executive Style asked workplace experts to name the seven they consider deadliest to any career. Here is their pick of the vices that will put the kybosh on your chances of career advancement and send you to the corporate sin-bin.
Think you know it all already and burning to share a few pearls of your wisdom with colleagues who aren't as on the ball? Go for it – if you're happy to remain the smartest person who never got promoted.
“The best people in business know that you can learn something from everyone,” executive coach and Sparks Elite founder Andrew Sparks says.
“Doing your best to imply your intelligence will backfire on you fast. You'll be ousted by the other members of staff and find yourself searching the careers section of the paper faster than you can say, 'who wants to get the coffees today'?”
Are you first to endorse whatever suggestion someone more senior puts on the table, however lame or impractical? Praising the bosses' pet projects to the skies may help you curry favour in the short term but it won't position you as leadership material, career coach Sally-anne Blanshard cautions.
“We have all worked with one of these [people], who appear to approve of everything and anything,” Blanshard says.
“Sometimes you have to learn to say no. You may be challenging a senior executive or a process that is being implemented. But saying no, and doing so with good reason and evidence, is courageous.”
All for one and one for all … The Three Mus-keteers' seventeenth century manifesto of solidarity is also applicable in the workplace, where selfish, non-join-in types rarely prosper, Workplace Research Associates principal Julie West says.
Stand out in a good way by showing you're interested in everything going on, West advises.
“Do things like willingly helping others, show you're prepared to go the extra mile … volunteer when things need doing, both work and social, like organising the office Christmas party,” she says.
People who collaborate readily and support their peers or team are bound to succeed. Blanshard adds: 'They will be noticed for the right reasons.”
Think being a winner in the workplace means making losers of your co-workers? It will only get you so far, West cautions.
“If you have to climb on others to get to where you need to be, it can work for a limited time but if that's the main strategy you'll alienate too many people along the way – alienate those who you're trying to lead,” she says. “It's counter-productive.”
Positive Leadership executive coach Barbara Heilemann agrees. Those who don't help others will end up without allies down the track, she warns.
“You might get the job, but no one likes you,” she says.
“Everyone hates you and you don't have any mates. Having colleagues at work who you can trust is really important.”
The world has never been short of those who can talk a good game. If this is all you can do, you'll be found out soon enough, former HR director and industry consultant Alan Anderson says.
Keep up your professional knowledge and learning, so your opinions and presentations are not just slick, but accurate and well informed, he advises.
Like doing things this way because that's the way you've always done them?
Present as a stick-in-the-mud at your peril, West says – workplaces change constantly and so should the people in them.
“People who are successful in their career embrace change,” she says. “It doesn't mean you have to like everything, but don't be someone who's set in your ways, which is common when people have been in one job for a while.”
If you want to get on, go a step further and become someone who suggests changes or improvements, she adds.
“Thinking of better ways to do things shows you're actively involved. It's very important to those with ambitions.”
Like to give it a good nudge at work functions when the alcohol is flowing and the boss is picking up the tab? Drink up if you're prepared to swallow the potential consequences, Sparks says. They may not be pretty.
“Nothing says, 'fire me now' like a passed-out member of staff before dinner, or openly hitting on your boss in front of the whole team,” Sparks says.
“What people walk past is what they accept. If they were to let this slide, they'd be telling other members of staff that this sort of behaviour is acceptable. Don't do it.”