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Hubris is often depicted as indisputably a bad thing, however hubris also has a 'bright side' according to research published recently in the Journal of Management Studies. A qualitative study led by Janina Sundermeier (Freie Universitat Berlin) of hubristic leader behaviours in business start-ups found that whilst hubristic start-up founders are more likely to 'fail overall' they excel in 'creating and communicating visionary scenarios', 'steering employees through critical situations', and 'extracting commitment from third parties'. The researchers concluded that it's important to look at the positive, and not just the negative, manifestations of hubris in leadership behaviours.

Hubris causes us to over-estimate what can go right and under-estimate what can go wrong. In this article in Time magazine the medical historian Mark Honigsbaum reminds us that perhaps the biggest lesson from the recent run of epidemics is that while scientific knowledge is always advancing it can also be a hubris trap: we become blind to the unexpected epidemic just around the corner and forget the lessons of previous pandemics at our peril.

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