Are Tall People Better Managers?


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We all have biases; things that we believe are true, that drive our decisions and actions.

But those biases can be blind spots, so they may drive the wrong decisions and actions.

The worst thing about biases is that we don’t realise that we have them, they are part of who we are. As the old adage goes:

A fish is the last to see water.

Let me give you an example

Do tall people make better managers?

Is there any link between height and management ability. What do you think, yes or no?

I vote for the “no” camp, being taller is unlikely to:

  • Bestow intelligence
  • Instill strategic prowess
  • Make you more politically astute
  • Turn you into a whirlwind of innovation.

Nobody in their right mind would claim being taller makes you a better manager.

But taller people do better in business

Here are a couple of facts for you:

  • In the US the proportion of men over 6 feet tall is 15%
  • Of fortune 500 companies the proportion of CEO’s over 6 feet tall is 58%

So it is true, being tall makes you a better manager.

Or we are all duping ourselves?

Tall people are not just better managers

A study by Timothy Judge and Daniel Cable showed that an inch in height is worth on average $789 a year in salary. So:

  • either being tall makes you a better lawyer, doctor, shopkeeper and undertaker
  • or the US and UK populations are biased to favour the tall

I’m jumping to the latter conclusion, how about you?

Biases, beliefs and assumptions are not so different

They are all hidden, and they are all capable of biting us. We will never be without them, but trying to list them out before we start an improvement project wouldn’t be a bad thing to do.

It is very difficult to out smart an enemy that you can’t see.

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Image by Anders Adermark

Republished with author's permission from original post.

James Lawther
James Lawther is a middle-aged middle manager. To reach this highly elevated position he has worked for many organisations, from supermarkets to tax collectors and has had multiple roles from running a night shift to doing operational research. He gets upset by operations that don't work and mildly apoplectic about poor customer service.


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