Napoleon was right to have a complex: We like our leaders tall. People prefer bosses and political leaders to be physically imposing, which is one reason why tall people push for leadership positions more often than their shorter counterparts, according to a pair of studies in Social Science Quarterly.
The two studies interviewed 467 college students about leadership abilities and asked them to draw an ideal leader next to an average citizen. Sixty-four percent of the students drew the leader as taller than the citizen. The second study quizzed students about their effectiveness as leaders and asked if they would ever seek out a leadership position. As height of the male respondent increased, so did his confidence in his leadership abilities.
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“People tend to ally themselves in groups with certain taller individuals,” said study co-author Prof. Gregg R. Murray, professor of political science at Texas Tech University. “The taller individual then tends to dominate the group, which builds the taller person’s confidence further down the road.”
So what does that mean for the rest of us? The key is to mimic the confidence of tall people. Here's how:
Keep the tone of your voice steady. Murray advises watching a Larry King interview with a famous celebrity or politician. King often manipulated the tone of his voice to match that of his powerful subjects. The key is to keep your tone constant. Lowering it conveys embarrassment and meekness.
Stay on top of your workout. Evolutionary theory suggests that tall people earn our trust because their physical dominance makes us feel protected, Murray says. If you don’t have the natural height advantage, you can still convey the illusion of height by making a simple adjustment to your posture. Follow these tips on how to carry your body.
Don’t underdress. Appearance is everything. One way to gain the benefit of physical dominance is to look like you matter, says Murray. Easier said than done? Get the Men's Health Color Advantage and gravitate toward the shoes, pants and shirts that will help you naturally exude confidence.
Trust your abilities. “What our study really shows,” Murray says, “is that people who feel qualified are more likely to put themselves out there and take a risk.” It sounds like a no-brainer, but knowing you’re qualified and performing like it are two very different things. Just follow the lead of the World’s Richest and Fittest Guys. They’ll teach you that taking a big risk can lead to huge dividends—regardless of height.