Updated: Jan 7
Are you in an executive, senior level role, and yet still wondering how you got there? Do you have doubt in your head that you should be there sometimes? Is there an underlying fear that you might be a fraud, that you’re not really good enough, or that people might think you’re not good enough despite the fact you are doing a fantastic job from the outside? Any of these feelings might be imposter syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome has been documented primarily within high performing women and minorities. In an article in October 2019, there was a link considered between Imposter Syndrome and the resignation of Mmusi Maimane, who in 2015 became the first black leader of the traditionally white Democratic Alliance (DA). Females in high level roles frequently ask themselves how they achieved this, and have self doubt about their relevance to be in these executive positions.
As an Executive Coach I am discovering more and more cases in men, especially when we are going through a crisis similar to the one we have been going through over the last 12 months. With people who have been in work their whole lives being made redundant and unable to regain employment, or there being a lack of promotion or advancement due to the current circumstances. Also with technology taking a forefront significantly quickly, some high performing people are also finding their place again within top performing companies as rapid change is occurring. That feeling of self-doubt, that internal voice can be the downfall of your mental health. It does not have to be. It’s interesting that the more people I speak to about Imposter Syndrome, the more they did not realize that this is more common, especially in senior level people then they think.
This syndrome is rarely spoken about and can affect your ability to get to the real potential of your performance. Self doubt, intense fear of failure and lack of confidence can affect decision making ability and effectiveness. Some of the results of Imposter Syndrome can be perfectionism, micromanagement, and you may also be a workaholic.
Identifying Imposter Syndrome in yourself, can be the first step towards higher performance and mental well balance. The “Imposter Syndrome Gap” is the difference between your perception of self and the perception others have of you.
Some of the questions you can ask yourself to start to overcome Imposter Syndrome
What are your greatest successes which you are not taking ownership of?
What are others saying? Can you ask your most trusted colleagues for feedback?
Which strengths are you overlooking in yourself?
Which of your assumptions about yourself would your good friends challenge?
What is your internal dialogue saying? What story are you running? Is this really true based on evidence from asking the questions above?
When you overcome Imposter Syndrome, what will you be letting go of? What will you be losing?
All of these questions start to help people internalize their accomplishments. They also help challenge negative thought processes and challenge limiting beliefs. People can start to recognize their strengths and develop different thought processes and patterns. Challenging an internal “story” which has been running is one of the first ways to start approaching Imposter Syndrome.
What else can you do?
Ask for support. Working with a coach can be very valuable for people with Imposter Syndrome
Ask for feedback. Working with trusted friends and colleagues who will provide honest feedback about your successes can also be useful.
Keep a success diary.
All of the above can start to help you move forward for a happier, more confident way of being. Quite often especially for people with Imposter Syndrome, this is much more in line with your actual achievements than you realize!
Caroline Langston is the Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. She is also the Founder of recruitersgiveback.org a nonprofit providing free information and coaching to people who are unemployed. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for success and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with a Certificate in Professional Coaching from the ICF, Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC. Also further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level. www.successCL.com www.recruitersgiveback.org