Handlebars and High Performers


mustacheIt’s that time again. The leaves are turning, the clocks need changing, and the air carries that crispness that can be associated with only one thing: a mustache. Dustin Hunter, blogged last year publicly announcing Hogan’s involvement in Movember. Participation in Movember is simple – register and grow a badge of honor on your upper lip to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research.               

At Hogan, we know a lot about leadership. Our passion is to understand its many dynamic facets and to scientifically identify an individual’s propensity to be successful. To honor this passion and our commitment to the study of leadership, I thought it only fitting to take a quick glance at some of the great mustaches in leadership history.

Theodore Roosevelt A decorated war hero, acclaimed big game hunter, and renowned president, Teddy exhibited leadership strengths that earned a chiseled spot in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Would his Rough Riders have followed his charge or bears fallen to his knife had his upper lip been shorn? I think not.

Don Mattingly He did serve as captain of the New York Yankees for four seasons and was awarded countless accolades for his sporting achievements. Mattingly was well known for a successful leadership style based around humility, simplicity, and excellence. In addition to the now retired number 23 on his jersey, Mattingly also proudly displayed a thick Box Car style mustache.

Genghis Kahn Opinions of Mr. Kahn vary, but no one can deny his leadership skill and tactical expertise. His leadership put Mongolia on the map and established some of the greatest horse cultures in human history. Would his confederation of tribes have united to form a force worthy of China’s Great Wall had he lacked his fuzzy stamp of machismo? Highly unlikely.

Abraham Lincoln This man was so influential he not only led this country through some of its darkest times, he also revolutionized the mustache by sporting the skin stache (full beard sans lip hair). Known for his honesty, eloquence, and untimely death, Lincoln and his reverse mustache have been immortalized in marble, alongside his mustachioed brethren in South Dakota, and on our national currency.

Mahatma Ghandi The guy sported a stache when he coined the phrase “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Enough said.

Albert Einstein Without that upper lip fur the “C” might not have ever been squared. Although Einstein might not have been a true people leader, no one can doubt his leadership in visionary thought. Besides, leadership is all relative.

The list could go on to include the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr., Wyatt Earp, Reggie Jackson, Mike Ditka, and countless others. It isn’t proper, however, to laud the positive accomplishments of those above without considering the darker role mustaches have played in leadership history.

Perhaps the most infamous derailed mustache was that worn by Adolf Hitler. The actions taken by Hitler do not merit a recap, but if leadership is defined as an ability to unite people toward a common goal (good or evil) then he must be acknowledged. Runners up include Atilla the Hun, Joseph Stalin, and Saddam Hussein.

Personality is, of course, a much more accurate (and legally defensible) way to assess an individual’s leadership style and potential than is their choice of facial hair. I’ve poked around our research archive and haven’t yet discovered any solid correlations between handlebar mustaches and high performing leaders, so we’ll stick to what we know and do best.