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The danger of runaway leadership. (2017)

“Hubristic individuals are a threat to governance in all institutions.”

Lord David Owen
Governance + Compliance, the online magazine of ICSA: The Governance Institute (UK), 16 May 2017

“For all the money and time business spends on risk management, building complex models and using quantitative statistical methods, it needs to devote at least as much money and effort to biological, chemical and human resources research on personality and behaviour.

Hubris is an occupational hazard for leaders in all fields… The very experience of holding office and acquiring power seems to develop into something that causes such holders to behave in ways which, on the face of it at least, seem symptomatic of a change in personality…

I now see Hubris Syndrome as an acquired personality trait … acquired in leaders when in power – and usually only after they have wielded power for some time – and which may well abate once power is lost. The key external factors seem to be these: holding substantial power, minimal constraint on the leader exercising such personal authority, and the length of time in power.

The best mechanism (for managing hubris) is that after five years any public company board should automatically have to consider, as part of company law, the record of the chief executive.

…We need to be far better at putting up boundaries against runaway leadership, improving selection, education, and evaluation by board members, and offering coaching and counselling to executives showing signs of hubris.

…There is also, in my view, an important role to be played by a mentor, trusted advisor or ‘toe-holder’, different from a coach.

Read the full article here: The danger of runaway leadership

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