Leaders Beware of the Tall Poppy Syndrome

In this episode, we attack something known as the Tall Poppy Syndrome. It is a cultural phenomenon that has been talked about for centuries. My guest Dr. Doug Garland, MD explains his research into the amazing and misunderstood aspects of what it means to become a tall poppy.

A Tall Poppy, in Australian terms, is someone noticeably successful as defined by wealth, prestige, prowess, rank, or even birth that may attract hostility, envious attention, or malevolence. Some people holding this Tall Poppy person in contempt may attempt to cause failure or disgrace by “cutting” him or her “down to size”; thus causing their target to be “tall-poppied” as a victim of the “Tall Poppy Syndrome” (TPS). Awareness of TPS is rarely noted in the United States despite being documented in most countries using various metaphors, words, or phrases.

No doubt you’ve seen the Tall Poppy in the workplace. You know, the person who rises above all others to take a role of leadership, only to be cut down or undermined by the ones he/she beat out for the position. It happens everywhere.

Leaders at all levels should become aware of this syndrome and guard against letting the “cutters” run loose.

Doug Garland practiced orthopedic surgery in Southern California for 37 years. He was a Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at USC and published > 110 peer-reviewed scientific articles. He published The Tall Poppy Syndrome – The Joy of Cutting Others Down earlier this year.

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Doug Thorpe
Doug Thorpehttps://dougthorpe.com/
With 25+ years in executive leadership, Doug is a been-there-done-that kind of leader. He has senior management experience in all major sectors; the military, Fortune 500, entrepreneurial, and non-profit. He has also enjoyed success as an entrepreneur, building several companies and non-profits. Doug’s clients realized significant cost savings, more effective operations, and higher profitability by using his business expertise. Doug provides executive coaching and business consulting services for executives and owners seeking fresh ideas for development of C-suite talent, high potential leaders, and team development. His firm is Headway Executive Coaching. Doug is the author of The Uncommon Commodity.