5 Things Authentic Leaders have learnt about Imposter Syndrome

There came a point in my leadership journey where I took on a role as a senior leader. The first revelation I had was that the buck stopped with me. The second one was an overwhelming sense of wondering: am I up to this? How long will it take those who promoted me to realise they might have the wrong guy? It all pointed to imposter syndrome.

Funny thing is – as you know, it is the way you view things that dictates how you do things. Which is why imposter syndrome can be a challenge particularly if you believe you shouldn’t be there.

“Unfortunately, imposter syndrome is all about fear. Fear of being found out, fear of failure, fear of not being good enough and chronic self-doubt.” – Dr Jessamy Hibberd

Does this resonate? Have you ever had such thoughts? For some leaders this can be debilitating, for others they are momentary thoughts. What is true is the well imposter syndrome springs from is one of fear. Fear is a terrible taskmaster and robs you of your potential.

So what can you do about imposter syndrome?

5 Hacks to turn the tide on Imposters Syndrome

These five hacks are not an exhaustive list but will help you to change the narrative:

  1. If you think you are not good enough you are probably one of those working their hardest to make sure you do a good job. The reason you have your promotion or position is because others recognised you have the skills and talents to do the job. A book written over 200 years ago by James Allen focuses on being careful about what you think. As a man thinks so he is. Monitor what you are saying to yourself.
  1. In coaching it is not unusual to uncover limiting beliefs, – things getting in the way of your success. Imposter syndrome is one such limiting belief. Introverts can struggle more with this because they do more self-talk; processing goes on internally. It is important to vocalise any negative self-talk with the aim of rewriting it in a positive, often the opposite, way and keeping this in front of you. Written down if necessary.
  1. Fear of failure is often a characteristic. Here it is important to list out and reflect on all that you have achieved. If necessary ask others to help. Celebrating what you have achieved and meditating on it and building on what you learnt helps turn down the volume on failure. It is important to think about the worst case scenario. Most failure will not be around your competency and therefore is an opportunity for learning. Change the focus to: what can I learn in this situation?
  1. Manage your energy. To compensate for your anxiety around others perceived expectations you may push yourself too much. This can lead to burn out. Make sure you understand what energises you. When you make the time for you to be healthy you will have a healthier mental and physical state.
  1. You are not alone. Research indicates up to 82% of people experience imposter syndrome to some degree. Imposter syndrome manifests unfounded truths you believe about yourself. Carry some kind of totem like a stone or icon that when you look at it you can remind yourself how you are good enough to be here. Whatever you focus on expands so focus on the right things. Those around you believe you are competent and professional, you must do the same.
“The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect.” Brené Brown

If any of this resonates with you. It is possible to overcome. Book a 30 minute discovery call here to see how.

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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