Tall Poppy Syndrome is what we call it when a person becomes successful and that success is visible to others, who become jealous of what that person has achieved and begins to discredit and undermine them. It happens all the time, and you’ve no doubt seen it on social media, where so many public figures are the subject of criticism from the public and the media alike, who decide (often for no real reason) that their success is undeserved and cut them down at any opportunity.

This unfortunately happens in the business world too, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any successful person who hasn’t been the victim of Tall Poppy System at least once in their career. So, what do you do when your colleagues are trying to undermine your success, instead of supporting and celebrating your achievements?

I’ve gathered three tips to help you combat and cope with Tall Poppy Syndrome in the workplace, without compromising your professionalism or stooping to their level.

Understand that it’s their problem, not yours

People who cut down those more successful than they are, are dealing with a lack of self-belief and self-worth that has nothing to do with you and your work, and it’s important to realise this.

They are frustrated at not achieving their own success, and taking it out on you because of their own issues.

The best way to deal with this is to brush off the critics, otherwise if you listen to them you’ll just be delaying your own achievements. Repeat your empowering mantras and keep in mind that you’re not here to please them; you have a purpose and a mission already, and you aren’t their employee, so leave them to be miserable while you get on with rocking it!

Surround yourself with those who support you (your tribe) - and find one if you don’t already have one!

Even the most resilient person can still find it draining after a day at work listening to nasty, critical remarks, and if you don’t have any sort of outlet then you’re going to find your performance and outcomes being affected.

If any of the people you associate with are always talking down to you, discouraging you and criticising you, then why keep them around? This is why finding your tribe is something I talk about a lot - being around people who uplift, encourage and support you, as well as celebrate your achievements, is fantastic motivation and makes it easier to shake off the doubters and the negative things they say.

Rise above it - don’t retaliate

It can be hard not to ‘fight back’ when someone is disparaging you, but if you stoop to their level then you’re wasting valuable energy and attention that should be going towards your work.

Remind yourself that you’re better than that, and while defending yourself may make you feel better temporarily, you’re really only hurting yourself in the long run. Focus on doing what you do best, and leave the naysayers to sabotage their professional development by focusing on your achievements instead of their own (or lack thereof).

Be true to yourself and work hard; by focusing on your goals, remembering that the doubters’ issues are not your own, never stooping to their level, and surrounding yourself with a fantastic and supportive tribe, you’ll be able to overcome being the victim of Tall Poppy Syndrome. Leave the jealous people behind as you achieve your goals and continue to be successful, while they stagnate and waste energy on being negative! Just rock it, and it all falls into place.

Want to be Courageous? Find our more about my courageous leadership coaching and keynotes today HERE

About Sonia

Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organizations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.

For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realize what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognized as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.

She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.

Keynote Topics

Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”. Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity, and humor will enhance any event she appears.

  1. Leadership Attitude
  2. Just Rock It
  3. Leadership for Small Business
  4. Leading the Next Generations
  5. Courageous Leadership
  6. Future Leaders of Leadership
  7. New Kindness of Leadership

Phone 1300 719 665 or +61 424 447 616



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