Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Hubristic leadership: Understanding the hazard and mitigating the risks

Sadler-Smith, E., Robinson, G., Akstinaite, V.ORCID: 0000-0003-0313-7187 and Wray, T. (2019) Hubristic leadership: Understanding the hazard and mitigating the risks. Organizational Dynamics, 48 (2). pp. 8-18.

Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


Hubristic leaders are powerful and successful individuals who become excessively confident and ambitious in their strategic decision choices. In doing so they show contempt for the advice and criticism of others. As a result, they often end-up over-reaching themselves and inflicting damage, both financial and reputational, on themselves and their organizations. Perhaps the highest profile recent example of hubristic leadership in management is Richard J. Fuld who helped build Lehman Brothers into one of the most formidable Wall Street trading businesses. His hubris contributed not only to his own and the company's demise but also to the 2007/2008 financial crisis, the effects of which are still being felt a decade on. Business is replete with examples of organizational failures which were linked to hubristic leadership. These include Long-Term Capital Management (which went into liquidation following its crash in 1998) and BP's Deepwater Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico (the costs of which are estimated at the time of writing to be $65billion). Hubristic leadership's damaging effects are not limited to business. In politics, George W Bush exhibited hubris in his decision to invade Iraq in 2003. President Trump shows many of the hallmarks of hubris.

Given the scale of its destructive effects, it is surprising that compared to leadership topics such as narcissism and charisma, hubris has received comparatively little attention in management research. In this article we bring hubristic leadership to the attention of management scholars, practitioners and students by explaining its characteristics and causes and suggesting how its potentially destructive consequences might be combatted.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2018 Elsevier Inc.
Item Control Page Item Control Page