Is impostor syndrome getting in your way?


If you are a game-changing leader then chances are that impostor syndrome could be getting in your way. That is the term that was coined to describe the fear we have all experienced that one day we will be discovered as a fraud. Faye* is a case in point. She impressed her prospective employer at interview and won a big new job. When she started in the new role and confronted the magnitude of her new challenge she privately questioned whether she really had the capability to deliver on her promise.

Self-help books suggested that she should fake it until she made it. However, she needed more than a swagger to save her from sleepless nights listening to her little voice of doubt. Faye unfairly compared herself to the leaders around the table, particularly the men, who appeared to be confident and have it all together. However, all is not as it appears. A recent survey discovered that being found incompetent is the number one fear of CEOs and executives worldwide.

Once Faye realised that other leaders were also dealing with their version of self-doubt she was able to shift her focus to what she was good at. She also gave herself permission to make mistakes. After all, if you are a game-changing leader and the game is big enough you will occasionally fall short of your objectives. What will also go with the territory is a level of doubt about your capability to deliver, whether you care to admit it or not. In fact, if you have not experienced impostor syndrome then it is likely that the game is not big enough.

Faye dealt with her impostor experience not by trying to make it go away but by shifting her focus to her strengths. She was great at building relationships and connecting with people. It took courage to confront her fears but she is now able to authentically support people to deal with their self-doubts and bring out the best in them. She can now see the evidence for her success in her commitment to make a huge difference.

How could you expand on your strengths and get impostor syndrome out of your way?

Best regards, Brian

*Name changed to protect the innocent

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