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How Leaders Help Themselves and Others Overcome Imposter Syndrome

By Perry Holley | January 11, 2023
How Leaders Help Themselves and Others Overcome Imposter Syndrome

If you have ever felt that you are fooling the people at work and that they may finally figure out you are not as good as they think you are, you most likely have experienced imposter syndrome. The good news is that you are not alone. The bad news is that you are not alone.
One study estimated that 7 in 10 people experience imposter syndrome at some point. This means 70% of the people on your team could be struggling with self-doubt and unworthiness, which can harm job performance and cause anxiety and stress.

PANDEMIC PROBLEMS

In a study conducted by Asana, 47% of knowledge workers worldwide reported feelings of imposter syndrome increasing in 2020. When workers were forced to work alone from home, feelings of disconnection, not meeting expectations, and fear of failure increased.

IMPOSTER PERSONALITIES

Dr. Valerie Young describes five kinds of imposter personalities in her book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It. According to Dr. Young, the five kinds of imposter syndrome personalities are the Perfectionist, the Natural Genius, the Rugged Individualist, the Expert, and the Superhero. Each of these personalities strives to prove to themselves and others they have what it takes.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

To overcome these feelings of inadequacy in yourself and others, consider these ideas:

1. CHECK YOUR MINDSET.

Imposter syndrome could signify that you are operating under a fixed mindset. Fixed mindset people feel their intelligence is fixed and cannot be changed. Instead, move to a growth mindset where you know you can grow and learn new things.[1]

2. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS.

Social media and instant access to the stories others tell us about themselves have exponentially increased our ability to compare ourselves to others. Remember, they show you what they want you to see; it’s not the complete story.

3. FIGHT THE INTERNAL BATTLE WITH HUMILITY.

As author Rick Warren once said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” True humility can coexist with confidence.

4. WORK ON DEVELOPING YOUR CONFIDENCE.

Author Gary Mack says, “Confidence comes from the emotional knowing that you are prepared mentally as well as physically. Over-prepare so you don’t underperform.” Invest time in thoroughly preparing physically and mentally for the job you perform. When you’re confident, you can relax and perform at your best.

5. TALK NICELY TO YOURSELF.

We each have a running dialog going on with ourselves inside our heads. How do you speak with yourself? Are you kind and empathetic like you are to others whom you speak with? Encourage yourself like you would encourage others to keep growing, learning, and moving forward.

Imposter syndrome is real and can undermine even the most capable of people. It’s based totally on feelings and not facts. Use the five suggested approaches above to help yourself and your team overcome this performance-killing mindset.

[1] From Mindset – The New Psychology of Success, by Dr. Carol Dweck.

About Perry Holley

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with Maxwell Leadership, as well as a published author. As co-host of the Maxwell Leadership Executive Leadership Podcast, he has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.

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Every week, Maxwell Leadership’s staff of industry-leading growth and development professionals releases free leadership resources for the benefit of you and your team. Our Executive Leadership podcast offers expert insights on today’s most pressing corporate leadership topics, while our Maxwell Leadership podcast highlights transformational influence.

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