Chapter 8 Hubris, bad judgement and practical wisdom in politics and business
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Hubris is a grandiose sense of self, characterised by over-confidence, arrogance, contempt toward the advice and criticism of others. Hubris is considered to be an acquired condition triggered by power, amplified by prior success and praise, and facilitated by lack of constraints regarding how a leader exercises power. Hubristic leaders' unproductive behaviours create conditions for, and increase the likelihood of, the emergence of negative unintended consequences. In this chapter the characteristics, causes and consequences of hubris are discussed and illustrated with the examples of the Iraq invasion of 2003, the financial crash of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. It is argued that hubris ultimately entails a failure of practical wisdom, and on the basis that 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' the chapter argues that the 'hubris hazard' be treated as an important source of risk to be managed and mitigated. Humility is offered as a potential source of mitigation on the basis that leaders of good character are humble in the face of their achievements and are cognizant of the fact that knowledge and ignorance are paradoxical elements of being 'practically wise'.

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Editors: Anna B. Kayes and D. C. Kayes
Monograph Book