Comment Of The Day:“’Mini-Mike’ Height Ethics”

Some day I’ll have to tote up the number of Comments of the Day attributable to each commenter. I have no idea who the current leader is, but there is no doubt that Chris Marschner is among the contenders. Here he discusses a long-time favorite topic of mine, the effect of height and size on the perceptions and uses of power.

Here is his Comment of the Day on “Mini-Mike”Height Ethics:

What is interesting is why people view tall people as somehow better leaders. There are numerous studies on the anthropological underpinnings of size and pecking order in the animal kingdom. It is not a stretch to think that deep within the reptilian parts of the human brain are the remnants of the need for a strong protector. The entire concept of the alpha male embodies this notion.

The larger, stronger member of the group takes on all comers and provides for the group while the betas and very meek simply do as they told or fight among themselves for the highest possible status in the group who, at some point, will eventually challenge the alpha member for dominance. Other studies involving what is considered beauty have also been done. We routinely give deference to attractive tall people unconsciously. Nature has imbued these folks with an innate power to get others in the group to do for them. I have termed these innate physical traits a source of natural power.

There are also numerous books on the origins of power. Some types include: Legitimate Power; Expert Power; Coercive Power; Referent Power; and, Reward Power. The Resistance attempts to convince the less informed that Trump is using coercive power while working to undermine his legitimate powers granted by the Constitution. Some who state that Trump has created a cult like following are ascribing Referent Power to him. I doubt a single Trump supporter with more than two brain cells sees him as a deity. But that seems to be what the resistance wants people to believe because it would create a schism in the religious communities.

What keeps Trump’s followers in the fold is  his natural power of size, but even more his ability to wither all the slings and arrows that would cause most of us to fold after a week. The media is angry with him because they did not create him, so they seem unable to take him out.

To a lesser degree, Trump holds Expert Power on some issues. However, most of us could come to the same conclusions as he does, but would be unable to execute as he has.

It takes a very special type of leader that lacks physical stature to be a leader and not an emperor or dictator. Bloomberg is attempting to offset his lack of physical stature (natural power) with “expert power.” He routinely tells us how he built a his business from the ground up etc., etc. He pontificates at length on panels simply because he was New York’s mayor and is also very wealthy. The belief is that he must be an expert because he is so rich.

No doubt Bloomberg has some expertise. There are however many who are lauded for their expertise in one area and begin to believe they are experts in all areas. Moreover, stories are now coming out that Bloomberg may not have led his organization by his sheer expertise as much as by a combination of coercive and reward powers. We know he has no problem deciding how big a soft drink one may purchase or that the rules should be changed to let him run for a third term. We are now finding out that Bloomberg paid (Reward Power) Internet influencers massive sums to create the appearance of his popularity.

Bloomberg worries me because I don’t think he is running to benefit the country. I believe he is running just to beat Trump. Competition between alphas is not for noble reasons; it is simply based on the need to be the highest ranking member in the peer group. I also worry that he does not have what it takes to have real followers. What happens when he no longer needs to spread his wealth (Reward Power) around to get people to do as he wants? He has demonstrated the quick willingness to command behavior (Coercive Power), so be prepared.

6 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day:“’Mini-Mike’ Height Ethics”

  1. So many commenters writing really lucid, informative essays on so many subjects. What a great place.

    I was thinking about this topic last night and the phrase “look up to [someone]” came to mind. If that doesn’t describe the depths of this phenomenon, I don’t know what does. There’s also, “put [someone] on a pedestal.” Height begets deference.

    I’m convinced the alpha male litigator who dominated the big firm I started out at consciously modeled his appearance and demeanor on John Wayne’s persona. To great advantage.

  2. Thinking about Napoleon who was of average size for his time, the defining characteristics about him were his intelligence and considerable vision. Even when he crowned himself Emperor, he was not in the same league of the Russian Emperor or the Austrian one as far his willingness to be ruthlessly coercive. No serfs in France or an autocratic regime like the Austrians. Bloomberg on the other hand seems to totally lack any vision of his own on how to make America a better society.

  3. “Bond always mistrusted short men. They grew up from childhood with an inferiority complex. All their lives they would strive to be big – bigger than the others who had teased them as a child. Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was the short men that caused all the trouble in the world.” – -Ian Fleming

    OTOH…

    “Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.” –1 Sam 9:2

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