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Faculty & Research


Are you Prone to Hubris?

Working Paper
Since ancient times, leaders have been plagued by the destructive nature of hubris. This article sheds light on the inner workings of hubris from a psychodynamic-systemic perspective, discussing first its origins in ancient Greece. It follows with a detailed definition applicable to contemporary leaders, pointing out that hubristic people tend to inflate their sense of importance, possess an unrealistic assessment of their capabilities, and are intoxicated with power. It notes that while hubris often accompanies narcissism, the two have notable and important differences—narcissism is a disorder of the person with much earlier origins, while hubris is a malady that manifests itself once someone is in a leadership position and should be viewed as an adjustment disorder. The article goes on to discuss under what conditions hubris is likely to develop among leaders and offers specific suggestions for preventing the development of hubristic behavior in business.

Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change