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Hubristic leadership, a review. (2016)

“…examines hubristic leadership … first in terms of over-confidence and its relationship to core self-evaluation and narcissism; then as an acquired disorder (Hubris Syndrome)

Eugene Sadler-Smith, Vita Akstinaite, Graham Robinson and Tim Wray; Surrey Business School, University of Surrey, UK
Leadership. 2 December 2016.

“Hubris is a potentially dangerous cocktail of over-confidence, over-ambition, arrogance and pride. It is a malaise of the powerful and successful which, when allied to contempt for the advice and criticism of others, causes leaders to over-reach themselves significantly. As a consequence, hubris has the potential to destroy careers, wreck organisations and wreak havoc on entire industries; if left unchecked, hubristic leadership can undermine institutions, threaten societal well-being and destabilise global security

“… stakeholders in organisations, institutions and civil society – managers, educators, researchers, as well as leaders themselves – need to be able not only to understand and recognise signs of emergent and extant hubris, but also be able and prepared to take the necessary steps to prevent its potentially dire consequences from materialising.”

In contributing to this endeavour, the authors review conceptual, theoretical and methodological aspects of hubristic leadership research.

“We examine hubristic leadership from two standpoints: first, from a psychological and behavioural perspective, we review hubris in terms of over-confidence and its relationship to core self-evaluation and narcissism; second, from a psychiatric perspective, we review hubris as an acquired disorder with a distinctive set of symptoms (Hubris Syndrome), the onset of which is associated with the acquisition of significant power. In doing so, we draw distinctions between hubris and several related constructs, such as over-confidence, narcissism, core self-evaluation and pride.

“Methodologically, we review how hubris and Hubris Syndrome can be recognised, diagnosed and researched, and we explore some of the unique challenges and opportunities hubris research presents.”

The authors conclude by offering some directions for future inquiry, noting that “most hubris research to date has been conceptualised at the individual level of analysis and the vast majority of hubrists who have been studied happen to be male. This raises three further areas for future research: relationality, corporate-level hubris and gender.”

Access the full article here: Hubristic leadership, a review.

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