In the UK, we have recently witnessed the proceedings of the Leveson enquiry, which is investigating the links between politicians and the media barons at the highest level. The demonstration of extreme forms of hubris during the proceedings is quite alarming. We have seen conflicting stories, lies and accusations of perjury aimed at the highest levels of politics and industry. The true colour of the personalities involved seems to be being exposed and there is certainly more to come as the truth unfolds in this unfortunate scenario.
Unfortunately, as each layer of the onion is peeled away, more and more revelations seem to emerge and the true character of people who were originally considered to be world-class business and political leaders is being exposed.
The level of hubris being revealed doing this enquiry is quite astounding. Accusations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, perjury, lack of integrity, corruption, pervade the whole proceedings.
Although the enquiry is still ongoing, and has not reached a conclusion, it is quite clear that the inquiry chair is being lied to on oath. It is not clear at the present time who is telling the truth and who is fabricating stories to suit their own ends. The intrigue continues.
So how did these people, who were previously regarding as models of excellence in their field, arrive at this position?
This scenario is not untypical. We only have to look at the global events which are unfolding day after day in many countries across the world. From war to oppression to economic chaos, all caused by a failure of leadership.
So why is this? The old saying that power corrupts is not sufficient to explain the extent of the problems which are being experienced.
Some researchers are now turning to medicine to explain the phenomenon and some believe that power is a driver in an acquired personality disorder. There is a belief that extreme hubristic behaviour is a syndrome constituting a cluster of features (symptoms) evoked by a specific trigger (power). Hubris syndrome is seen as an acquired disorder which makes it different from other personality disorders which are traditionally seen as being persistent through adulthood. Hubris syndrome appears to be a transient disorder, and usually subsides when power disappears.
Medical research on this continues and will have significant impact on leadership selection and development for the future as indicators are identified which would predict the level of predisposition of individuals to acquiring this syndrome.