Why do Australians have a problem with those that are achieving? Why do we feel the need to cut them down? Is it jealousy, cynicism, a lack of understanding, or a fear of failure? The sad thing is that tall poppy syndrome isn’t just a fleeting problem, it’s an actual barrier to innovation in this country.
On International Women’s Day, it’s a good time to consider what this means for women. For women, the stakes of tall poppy syndrome are much higher. Partly because there are less women rising to the top ranks – for example women fill only 26.2 per cent of board positions – which makes women more obvious targets, and partly because of unconscious bias which means people question whether women should be in the top ranks in the first place. Women face greater scrutiny all round.
So, how can Australian women overcome tall poppy syndrome?
Nurture our ambitions
Rather than devalue our own goals and ambitions – or let others do that for us – we should nurture them. Yes, it may be hard. Yes, you may face scrutiny. But the only person who loses out by you not chasing your dreams is you. Perhaps the true measure of whether we are doing something great is by the size of the backlash. Maybe it’s time we lean into it, rather than avoid it.
Ignore the haters (including the voice in your head)
There is zero value in listening to those that are trying to drag you down. And that includes the nagging voice in your head that may be holding you back. If you’re telling yourself you’re too big for your boots, that your ambitions are silly, or that you appear ostentatious or egotistical – take a moment to really pay attention to whether or not that is a valid concern or whether you are simply succumbing to tall poppy syndrome. Often the voice in our head is just plain wrong.
Committing to nurturing our ambitions must include letting our goals be known. The more we talk about what we want to achieve – and indeed what we are achieving – the more normalised this will become and the less awkward it will feel.
So, let me start things off: My goal for this year is for my business, Green Door Co, to exceed $1 million in revenue. I recently discovered that only two per cent of female business owners exceed this milestone and it lit a serious fire under me to make it happen.
So, in the spirit of squashing tall poppy syndrome, what are you hoping to achieve this year?
About Heather Marano
Heather Marano is the Founder and Director of Specialist SME marketing consultancy, Green Door Co, based in Sydney, Australia. Over the last decade she has worked with over 60 small and medium sized businesses on their PR and marketing programs. She even picked up a B&T 30 Under 30 award in the PR & Marketing category in 2015. Dedicated to supporting SMEs who are often excluded from marketing opportunities due to cost, Heather has recently launched a DIY PR course called PR 4 SMEs.