HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Alan L. Gleitsman Professor of Social Innovation, HKS; Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration, HBS


Although power is essential to taking charge and driving change, it makes leaders vulnerable to two traps that can not only erode their own effectiveness but also undermine their team’s. Hubris—the excessive pride and self-confidence that can come with power—causes people to greatly overestimate their own abilities, while self-focus makes them less attentive to subordinates, diminishing their ability to lead successfully. The authors offer strategies for recognizing and avoiding these pitfalls. They outline how to cultivate humility and empathy as antidotes to hubris and self-focus, through actions such as establishing channels for honest input, creating visible reminders that success is fleeting, immersing oneself in other people’s jobs and experiences, and embedding interdependence in organizational systems. A balanced relationship with power can seldom be developed overnight, but in time, leaders who follow this advice will boost their own effectiveness and facilitate exceptional performance from their teams.


Battilana, Julie and Tiziana Casciaro. "Don’t Let Power Corrupt You." Harvard Business Review. September-October 2021.