THE most frequently quoted section of John Myburgh’s report on African Bank is the description of former CEO Leon Kirkinis’s personality. Kirkinis is hubristic, says the report. Making sure to avoid uncertainty, Myburgh goes on to explain: “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 is in a position of power.” Just in case there was still some doubt about this, Myburgh adds that Kirkinis believed he was right; everyone else was wrong.Hands up anyone who thinks the description of Kirkinis could be applied to any one of a dozen CEOs. Is an overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments and capabilities not a prerequisite for clawing one’s way to the top of the corporate heap? And doesn’t it go a long way to explaining why CEOs, after looking deep into their hearts, truly believe their competence, accomplishments and capabilities are what make the...

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