Menu Search
About Hubris

Impact & spread

From Napoleon’s fateful march on Moscow to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the global financial crisis that resonates still, Hubris Syndrome could be at the heart of some of history’s most disastrous outcomes.

‘Underneath the radar’, in everyday life, Hubris Syndrome manifests itself in countless other hurtful and damaging ways.

Just consider some of the real-life events we’ve seen recently that increasingly seem to be explained by the concept of Hubris Syndrome:

The proof of the old axiom is plain to see – “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely”. While we need risk takers, the question is what level of risk?

Spread of Hubris Syndrome

Back to the top

Hubris Syndrome is common but to what extent we do not yet know. Very few people in their lives have not had some contact in a dangerous and damaging way with a leader whose judgement has been affected by Hubris Syndrome.

While most of the research and thinking to date has focused on high profile individuals in very prominent positions where they can do major damage to many people, the effects of Hubris Syndrome are probably felt in all walks for life – in small and medium sized enterprises, schools, the health system, everywhere.

Ways power corrupts

Back to the top

As mentioned, the examples of Hubris Syndrome quoted in most published works focus on the relatively small numbers of leaders at the highest levels. That is because their behaviour is so visible and the consequences affect so many people.

But even in such a tiny segment of the population, examples of narcissism, hubris and potential Hubris Syndrome abound:

Businesses and groups

Back to the top

In business too, many high profile people associated with disastrous outcomes have been discussed as possibly displaying Hubris Syndrome:

It’s not just an individual who can be afflicted. Hubris Syndrome can affect groups, too:

Just browse through the resources on this site and you’ll find plenty of examples. Consider your own experience, and you’re bound to find more.

*** Owen D (2006) Hubris and Nemesis in Heads of Government. J R Soc Med 99:548–51