That is the thing about bullies: they hold so much power and instil such fear - until they don't. And when that day comes, it is hard to credit how they continued for so long in wreaking havoc on a country or a company. Take the swift demise of Robert Mugabe in the past two weeks, the collapse in 2014 of African Bank, headed by Leon Kirkinis, or the downfall of Lehman Brothers (one of the triggers of the 2008 global financial crisis), led by Dick Fuld. Mugabe's decades-long rule destroyed the country's economy, and its citizens lived in fear as opponents were eliminated. In his report on African Bank, Advocate John Myburgh said Kirkinis was the dominant personality in management and believed "he was right and everyone else wrong". He said the word "hubris" came to mind when describing Kirkinis's personality - "hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence, accomplishments or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it ...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.