The bald truth about power and leadership potential

In the mornings lately, when I take a shower and dry my hair, I’ve noticed a little thinning on top. Uh-oh.

My hair has always been what shampoo makers call “fine,” but nowadays it seems to be even finer—so fine as to be nearly invisible. So what’s going on here? Is this the beginning of the…end?

Bruce Willis

Remember the show “Moonlighting”? Bruce Willis had hair then. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Wikimedia Commons.

I’m not sure, but I’ve discovered that if I comb my hair across the top of my head, you can’t really tell. It’s ingenious, really. I call it the comb-over. To my knowledge, no one has ever thought of this. No one in the history of mankind has ever employed such a brilliant subterfuge. I’m thinking of patenting it.

Okay, just kidding.

I’m beginning to understand, though, why otherwise rational men resort to comb-overs. Sure, bald is in, sort of, but I’m no Bruce Willis or Dwayne Johnson. Although, what choice do I have when the inevitable happens—unless I use the patented comb-over or go for a toupee? Well, I could just shave my head now and be done with it. I could be another Seth Godin!

You laugh, but The Wall Street Journal reported last year that “[m]en with shaved heads are perceived to be more masculine, dominant and, in some cases, to have greater leadership potential than those with longer locks or with thinning hair, according to a recent study out of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.”

In fact, Godin is even quoted in the article: “I’m not saying that shaving your head makes you successful, but it starts the conversation that you’ve done something active. These are people who decide to own what they have, as opposed to trying to pretend to be something else.” Okay, Seth, score one for authenticity.

Wharton management lecturer Albert Mannes conducted experiments to test people’s perceptions of men with shaved heads vs. those with hair. Subjects reported finding men with shaved heads as more dominant, taller and 13 percent stronger. Wow!

Seth Godin

Marketer Seth Godin. Photo by Joi Ito/Wikimedia.

Mannes speculates that head shavers seem more powerful because the look is associated with masculine images such as the military, professional athletes and Hollywood action heroes. Male-pattern baldness, by contrast, is associated with George Costanza from “Seinfeld.”

Indeed, the study found that men with thinning hair were viewed as the least attractive and powerful. “For these men, the solution could be as cheap and simple as a shave,” says the Journal. Ha, ha, ha. That really hurts.

For now, I have hair. It’s just not a full mop. It’s like a Chia Pet that’s lost its luster. A broom that’s missing some of its bristles. A thinning patch of grass that needs a little bit of TLC. I’ll manage for the time being. I’m not quite ready for the sheared look. Although, I did shave off my mustache a few years ago. Hmm…

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4 Responses to The bald truth about power and leadership potential

  1. Pam Jones says:

    I shared the bald truth with my son. He is 42 and has shaved his head for 10 years. He was very bold about choosing to shave his head when his hairline began to recede. No comb-over for him! He always said it did not bother him to be bald at such an early age but I always wondered if he really felt that way. He had such thick, wavy, beautiful black hair! I cried. He didn’t. After reading your blog he replied, “I’ve been telling you that for years, Mom! I felt empowered! Believe me now!”

  2. Loved this…and sorry I had several chuckles. Right there with you Bro.

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