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.