Hubris & History (#239)

When the history books are written, the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States will be viewed as one of the most tragic leadership failures in modern history. Leaders at all levels of American government have failed dramatically, a reality made obvious with one glaring statistic: the US has only four percent of the world’s population, but 25 percent of its COVID-19 cases.

Intelligence and talent are more domain-specific than we believe. Just because someone is brilliant at one thing—such as giving a stirring speech, or running an effective campaign—does not assure they are brilliant at another. In fact, having success in one area often creates overconfidence in areas beyond our expertise—creating risky blind spots. You wouldn’t want your surgeon to manage your money, or let a financial advisor take out your appendix.

For all their strengths in other areas, our leaders have failed in their pivotal responsibility to manage this pandemic. Here are four critical mistakes: