The Every Day Leader: Rising Above

In 1931 a gentleman name J.T. Lang gave the term “tall poppy” to those on government salaries that earned a high amount.  A tall poppy is referred to someone who is successful in their field.  From that, folks from Australia have coined a new phrase over the years called “the tall poppy syndrome”.

It is a term referred to one pulling another down that is more successful – especially if they show the slightest bit of imperfection.

It somehow makes us feel better about ourselves.

I didn’t know the term until many years ago – but I have known people to do this, known what it feels like to have it done to me and also know how easy it is to get pulled into being a part of it.

The tall poppy syndrome shows it face when someone appears better at something than you…we become jealous.  When we can find a flaw in that person, it becomes an instant way to bring them down a notch…maybe even down to the level we are at.


Sometimes, all that is needed is awareness that we are capable of doing this.

Can you think of someone now that you are just a little jealous of?  Their skills?  Their looks?  Their position?  How do you handle that?  Are you the one that points out something negative about them or do you celebrate with them?

Ever since I have heard of the term, I have been more conscious of thinking of the tall poppy.  Someone may be a better communicator, a better leader, a better dresser…a better anything.  I am instantly reminded of the tall poppy.

Leaders intentionally celebrate the gifts of others.  They congratulate, they encourage and they look up to them, rather than bringing them down to their level.  We know the importance of not only our words, but our thoughts. Thoughts lead to actions.

When we are intentional even in our thought life, we are better people.  We have new opportunities to influence another. 

We know to celebrate the tall flowers that come up, knowing that God has made us all unique.  It’s what we do…celebrate others success.

Next time, when you are tempted to critique the tall poppy that is doing something better than you…may you be reminded of the beauty they bring, as well as the beauty you bring. 

Every day leaders share successes, knowing that we make a difference when we celebrate together.

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