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Moral Complexity in Leadership: Hubris and Humility Antigone, by Sophocles


The "Moral Complexity in Leadership" series of cases and teaching notes help business instructors harness the power of fiction to prepare students for the moral and ethical dilemmas they will face throughout their careers. Meaningful fiction challenges students intellectually and emotionally; it reveals the inner worlds of human players and enables learning that can be difficult to access through case studies, commentary, or reporting. Through literature, students will wrestle with the kinds of problems they will face as leaders looking to make courageous decisions aligned with their moral codes.

The works in this series represent a wide range of settings, viewpoints, and cultural frameworks; the characters are complex and contradictory, and the systems within which they operate (whether family, organizational, or cultural) influence them in varied ways. They have been taught to executive, full- and part-time MBA student audiences for many years.

The series aims to increase students' understanding of moral frameworks and enhance their skills in facilitating and participating in healthy and productive dialogue about complex and provocative issues.

This installment of the series, "Hubris and Humility," examines the great ancient Greek tragedian Sophocles's play Antigone, about a young Theban princess's defiance of the state--personified in her uncle, Creon, the King of Thebes--in her struggle to bury with honor her brother who was slain in a civil war. Antigone is loyal to her brother and shows courage in speaking up for him; Creon cannot understand why anyone would make such an emotional decision. Antigone's story warns organizational leaders that hubris can drive them to simplistic solutions when situations demand an appreciation of complexity, moral humility, and thoughtfulness. From Creon, leaders witness the--in this instance, dire--consequences of ignoring input from multiple points of view, especially when others' perspectives are uncomfortable or inconvenient.




Brooke Vuckovic, Rebecca Talbot

Date Published



General Management

Key Concepts

Business ethics, Conflict resolution, Difficult conversations, Interpersonal skills, Leadership, Leadership development, Leadership qualities, Listening skills, Managing conflicts, Moral leadership


Vuckovic, Brooke, and Rebecca Talbot. Moral Complexity in Leadership: Hubris and Humility Antigone, by Sophocles. Case 5-223-250 (KE1266).


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