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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Ever had the nagging feeling that you’re not good enough, that you don’t belong, that you don’t deserve that executive role or the board position? Maybe despite your accomplishments, you just can’t help feeling like a fraud. 

According to a KPMG study, 75% of female executives across industries have experienced imposter syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome, you might ask? Imposter syndrome, also known as imposter phenomenon or imposter experience, is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and talents, and has a continual worry of not deserving their success, or of being exposed as a fraud. Individuals suffering from imposter syndrome may feel inadequate despite proof of their competence and successes, and may assume that their achievements are the consequence of luck or error, rather than their own abilities or qualifications.

While imposter syndrome can impact both men and women in a variety of circumstances (including the workplace), women in positions of power and leadership tend to suffer more from it.

It is vital to stress that imposter syndrome is not a natural trait of women; rather, it is impacted by external influences and cultural standards. Overcoming imposter syndrome entails resisting these societal affects and gaining self-confidence by recognising one’s accomplishments and appreciating personal talents. Creating inclusive and supportive work settings that recognise varied opinions and achievements can also help women to feel more empowered and to be less prone to experiencing imposter syndrome.

Achieving the freedom to be one’s real self as a woman in a leadership role takes a mix of human effort, organisational support, and cultural change. To lessen the impact or be free of imposter syndrome, it is important that you:

  • Take some time to reflect on your achievements and to acknowledge the hard work and abilities that have contributed to your success. 
  • Remind yourself of your abilities, and keep a record of your accomplishments and good feedback from co-workers and superiors.
  • Recognise that imposter syndrome is a common occurrence and that it’s OK to feel this way from time to time. Accepting these feelings and confronting them with evidence of your expertise and previous triumphs might be the first step towards conquering them.
  • Surround yourself with supportive colleagues, mentors, and friends who believe in your skills and can offer encouragement when needed.
  • Consider yourself as a success in your role, boldly leading talks and adding value. Visualisation can aid in developing confidence and reducing worry.
  • Be kind to yourself and treat yourself with the same understanding and compassion you would extend to a friend facing similar difficulties.

Remember that the journey to being free of imposter syndrome and to being an authentic leader is an ongoing one that takes self-reflection, adaptation, and a willingness to learn and evolve. It is about embracing your abilities, values, and uniqueness in order to create a positive difference in the organisation and the lives of the people you lead. So go on and believe in yourself, make decisions that are consistent with your values and objectives, and shatter social norms.