Lets talk about ..."Imposter Syndrome" - Tips about what it is and what to do with it.
According to Psychology Today "People who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think—and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them. Those with imposter syndrome are often well accomplished; they may hold high office or have numerous academic degrees...... Around 25 to 30 percent of high achievers may suffer from imposter syndrome. And around 70 percent of adults may experience impostorism at least once in their lifetime, research suggests."
In my first Being Humans at Work Podcast Peter Milligan (inspirational speaker and executive coach) and I explored what it feels like to experience Imposter Syndrome. Peter experienced this when he joined a leading HR consulting firm in Adelaide Australia where he had to sell and deliver professional services and he was just learning his own profession in organisational psychology. The organisation was growing and within a year of joining, he was put in charge of one of the new divisions. Peter had never lead a team or managed a profit centre before - he revelled in the opportunity but he describes himself as "clueless" the "youngest member of the management team", the "least experienced person" .. he didn't know Imposter Syndrome was a "thing" at that time. However now, looking back, he knows this is what he was experiencing. This was a time when he began "armouring up", putting on a "professional mask", hiding how he was really feeling inside, protecting himself because he didn't want anyone else to know about or see his weaknesses or vulnerabilities.
Imposter Syndrome is something I might frequently come across during executive coaching sessions with senior leaders. Irrespective of their seniority, they may be triggered by something which throws them into feeling like they don't know the answers, they are going to be found to be "lacking' as leaders. In their minds they feel like they need to have all the answers to everything. That simply isn't possible ... we can't have the answers to all the questions, or certainly, I have never come across a leader who has! What they then gain, through their executive coaching journey with me, is access to the courage they need to be vulnerable, to share that they "don't know yet" with their teams, peers, bosses, and colleagues. They gain the tools to learn how to notice and challenge their internal narratives, their inner critics, the thoughts and beliefs which lead to this feeling of being an imposter.
As well as recommending you download and listen to Episode 2 of Being Humans at Work Podcast I've put together a short video to share some tips and experiences of my own in relation to #impostersyndrome and hope that you may find it useful.
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