Mary Shirley, co-author of “Sending the Elevator Back Down” and co-host of the Great Women in Compliance Podcast, contrasts “Tall Poppy Syndrome” with the concept of using one’s success and platform to raise others up.
When co-author Lisa Fine, Sarah Hadden, owner of publishing company CCI Press; and I were tossing around ideas for the title of our book, “Sending the Elevator Back Down: What we Learned from Great Women in Compliance” (CCI Press, 2020), I was instantly struck when Sarah proposed one of my favorite themes of sending the elevator back down as our title.
As I’ve written about before, it’s a critical element for Great Women in Compliance, because it’s one of the most commonly noted features in the outstanding women we meet and interview for the podcast.
But there’s another reason I value the spirit of the theme: Implicit in the idea of sending the elevator back down is that of raising someone else up. Many of us – particularly women – spend years getting ourselves to the point of self-acceptance and then loving and embracing who we are, knowing that we are enough. This is an internal battle that can take even decades.
Yet there are people in the workplace and community who seek to bring others down. In New Zealand and Australia, we have the concept of “Tall Poppy Syndrome,” which is the idea that anyone who is making strides to achieve their goals and standing out in some way needs to be cut down to size.
And so begin the efforts to undermine, unduly criticize, ridicule and ostracize others. Unlike Queen Bee Syndrome, it’s not limited to women; any gender can be the villain when it comes to Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Sending the elevator back down rails against such toxic thinking and encourages space for everyone. It symbolizes the coming together of women to propel each other forward and establish a sense of support and community.
If you’re thinking you don’t have much time to send the elevator back down with intensive community service work, think about easy ways in which you can lift someone else up and counter the effects of self-doubt or Tall Poppy Syndrome. A kind word of encouragement is all it takes to make a start.