Elliot Spitzer, Hubris, and Leading Change

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

“Driven by hubris, we become blind to our own fallibility and make terrible mistakes.” This was spoken by New York Governor Elliot Spitzer in a speech he gave last August. As Attorney General of NY, he went after prostitution rings and encouraged banks to enact the technological capabilities that eventually alerted FBI to his rather expensive hobby.

His take-no-prisoners approach to doggedly pursuing his goals, has left him with few political friends. It seems like everyone is calling for his resignation.

Hubris is a human condition. As entertaining or appalling his story might be, depending on your tastes, hubris lives in our organizations and in us. And when it rears its head; for example: we act as if we are above the law, rules, and procedures, people’s trust in us goes down. We don’t even have to get caught doing something wrong. People pick up the signals that we play by different rules, and they get angry and suspicious. And we see our ability to get things accomplished diminish.