5 Strategies for Dealing with your Imposter Syndrome

5 Strategies for Dealing with your Imposter Syndrome

In our last blog we learned that Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internal fear of being exposed as a “fraud”, despite external evidence of their competence.

Those experiencing this phenomenon struggle to shake the belief that they do not deserve all they have achieved and incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or even worse, believe that their success has come about as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more capable or intelligent than they actually are.

The challenge with imposter syndrome is that most people suffer in silence. This is because their belief is that if they speak up about it, it will materialize/act as proof of their lack of competence and cause others to review their positive perceptions of the individual.

This is why an important strategy in combatting Imposter Syndrome, is to create a space for people to talk about it.  Once they understand that it is a common experience, it is normalized and sufferers can begin to support one another to develop strategies for overcoming it.

So, what can you do if you recognize that you might be suffering from Imposter Syndrome? Here are some suggestions:

#1 Get a mentor/coach

The power of Imposter Syndrome is in its silence. The ability to speak out your insecurities and fears in a safe, non-judgmental environment has an immediate and powerful mitigating effect. The very act of reaching out to another in this way, helps to normalize the feelings and breaks you out of isolation and obsessive internal reflection. A skilled coach will also help to raise awareness about your inner dialogue as well as stories you might be holding to about yourself, to help you into a healthier self-perception.

#2 Play to your strengths

Imposter’s tend to obsess about their weaknesses and perceived failures. Recognize where you can improve, but commit to focusing on your strengths to develop them into signature strengths. Besides replenishing your energy, working to your strengths will give you a strong sense of self-confidence and allow you to add real value to whatever you are undertaking.

#3 Mentor someone else

Work with those who know less than you, to pass on your experience and wisdom. This will remind you of how far you have come and help you to verbalize and become conscious of everything you do know.

#4 Celebrate your successes

Learn to celebrate what you did well. Imposters rarely take time out to recognize their achievements and to reward themselves for their investment in their own development.

#5 Create a better ‘personal story’

If you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, you could probably benefit from reframing the way you think about yourself and your life story. By becoming aware of your personal story, you can ask yourself whether this story is really serving you and how you can adjust it in order to make room for more success.

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Check out our Imposter Syndrome Awareness Training. A fully online programme designed to explore the syndrome and create a safe space for you consider its behaviours and impacts in your personal and professional life.

Feeling like a fraud? You may be suffering from Imposter Syndrome

Feeling like a fraud? You may be suffering from Imposter Syndrome

Picture this.You’ve just been given a great promotion! One which you have worked hard for. Once the initial elation has passed you find yourself lying awake at night worrying about whether you are competent enough to manage the task, and what others might think when they find out about your new role. You are suffering from imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internal fear of being exposed as a “fraud”, despite external evidence of their competence. Those experiencing this phenomenon struggle to shake the belief that they do not deserve all they have achieved and incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or even worse, believe that their success has come about as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more capable or intelligent than they actually are.

First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, imposter phenomenon isn’t an official psychological diagnosis but psychologists and others acknowledge that it is a very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt.

Imposter feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression. Also common is the experience of having a strong internal critic (a form of negative self-talk) which undermines self-confidence and creates a ‘reality gap’ between how an individual feels about themselves and the positive feedback they are gaining from their environment.

In our work with emerging leaders suffering from Imposter Syndrome, we have found that many of them have a strong personal ‘story’ about themselves which sets limits on how successful they see themselves becoming. One client I worked with had begun her professional life as a personal assistant and worked her way to VP over a period of years.  Her personal script was that she was just a ‘girl from the country’ that had somehow got lucky enough to progress in her career. This personal script becomes a kind of unspoken contract with herself and set limits on how ‘successful’ she would allow herself to become. When she was promoted to VP, her current reality was so different from her personal script that she began to experience a high degree of self-doubt and anxiety about her VP role. Through coaching, she was enabled to become aware of and adjust her personal story about herself to reconcile with her current realities. 

Besides having a limiting personal story, there are a number of other factors that may contribute to individuals being challenged by Imposter Syndrome:

#1. Being a High Achiever

Many people who feel like imposters grew up in families that placed a big emphasis on achievement. In particular, parents who send mixed messages — alternating between over-praise and criticism — can increase the risk of future fraudulent feelings. Societal pressures only add to the problem. If self-worth is linked strongly to achievement, the chances of experiencing ‘Imposter Syndrome’ are enhanced

#2. Belonging to a Minority Group

The experience seems to be more common among minorities, and some minority groups may be especially susceptible. A 2013 study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin surveyed ethnic-minority college students and found that Asian-Americans were more likely than African-Americans or Latino-Americans to experience imposter feelings. Interestingly, the researchers also found that imposter feelings more strongly predicted mental health problems than did stress related to one’s minority status (Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 2013). In fact, it seems that differing in any way from the majority of your peers — whether by race, gender, sexual orientation or some other characteristic — can fuel the sense of being a fraud.

#3. Starting a New Endeavour

Imposter phenomenon seems to be more common among people who are embarking on a new endeavor. Whilst a measure of self-doubt is normal, those with imposter syndrome have real trouble believing that they are worthy of the position they currently hold or are capable of succeeding in it.

#4. Having Perfectionist Tendencies

Imposter syndrome and perfectionism often go hand in hand. Many times sufferers hold a conscious or unconscious assumption that every task they tackle has to be done perfectly, and, because they don’t want to be exposed, they rarely ask for help. When unsure how to proceed, therefore, they may procrastinate, putting off starting a task, out of fear that they won’t be able to complete it to the necessary high standards. Alternatively, they may over-prepare, spending much more time on a task than is necessary.

This pattern of behavior has a self-reinforcing tendency. After having gone through contortions to do a project perfectly, when they succeed, those suffering from Imposter Syndrome begin to believe that all their anxiety and effort has paid off. Consequently, they develop the belief that the stress and strain associated with their perfectionism is contributing to their success and they have a hard time giving it up for a more sustainable approach to project completion.

Is Imposter Syndrome something you suffer from?

Leader as Coach- The Key to Effective Leadership

Leader as Coach- The Key to Effective Leadership

The leadership landscape has shifted. Leaders are being called upon to offer more support and guidance than ever before as employees learn to adapt to the constantly changing environment of the post-Covid world. 

To cope with this new reality, companies are moving away from traditional command-and-control leadership practices toward something very different: The leader as coach. Adding coaching strategies to a leader’s toolkit means that they can not only keep an eye on performance, but also support and engage their people through challenges and change to achieve outstanding results.

Our Leader as Coach Programme is designed to work in with the busy schedule of today’s leaders. The programme content is drawn from our decades of executive coaching and leadership experience to offer practical and powerful coaching strategies to enhance leadership impact.

 

Listen to what one of our satisfied clients have to say about the positive impact our Leader as Coach programme has had within their organisation.

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Get in touch to find out about our Leader as Coach Programme.  

Perfectionism and Burnout- The Critical Link

Perfectionism and Burnout- The Critical Link

Working from home has been anything BUT the panacea for stress that many had hoped. With trying to balance home and work responsibilities in a new and unexpected way, it’s becoming hard to remember a time before we started being ‘busy’ all the time.    

 

For many, it feels like an achievement just making it through the day. While we take on more work and responsibilities, work longer hours and deal with higher levels of stress, our minds and bodies are paying the price. As our energy outputs exceed our energy intake, burnout is the inevitable consequence if we don’t actively recognize and circumvent it.   

Studies suggest thatanywhere from 23–54% of workershave previously or are currently dealing with burnout. So, it’s an issue we all need to understand. While each burnout experience is individual, there are clear triggers to look out for and proven strategies to help you avoid, alleviate, and recover from burnout symptoms.   

Across two interview podcasts, Tracy May, CEO of The Diversitas Group talks to a Senior L&D Advisor from the Professional Services sector, Alex Rigale, who suffered burnout last year. 

If you are interested in knowing more about Alex’s journey or would like to speak to him personally, you can reach him on [email protected] 

In this first Interview Alex and Tracy unpack the road to burnout. Listen Now!

 

Perfectionism and Burnout- The Critical Link Interview 1

by The Diversitas Group

Perfectionism and Burnout- The Critical Link Interview 2

by The Diversitas Group

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Is Your Net-Working? Create and leverage your operational, personal and strategic networks. 

Crisis Leadership

Crisis Leadership

Those of us living through the Covid-19 pandemic are witnessing the most profound global changes since the Second World War. In a matter of weeks, we have been ushered in a new way of working and relating both on an individual, organizational and societal level.

 

One of the most pressing questions that needs to be answered in this time of unprecedented upheaval and change is ‘’what is the task of leadership?’’ We are all bearing witness to graphic examples of leaders who are doing it well, and those that are floundering as this crisis calls forward essential new leadership qualities.  So, what are these qualities and how can we as leaders adjust our approach to step into the leadership vacuum that exists over many teams, organisations and communities in this time of crisis?

It’s tempting to believe that during times of crisis a bewildered populace or workforce need heroic leadership – the kind that assures us that everything is in hand and that our leaders are somehow ahead of the ‘’game’’ and in a position to assure a good tomorrow. But big promises ring very thin when results are not forthcoming and there is the absence of authentic relational connection. Others might suggest that visionary leadership is needed to focus our imagination and motivate us work for a better future. But vision too is short lived.  It may promise a future, but when we are near the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid and contending for safety and security, our commitment to visions is easily diverted.

Neither of the above two leadership styles is needed during a crisis.  

What is needed is something far less spectacular and far less visible. We need leaders who are authentic, personal and relatable. Gianpiero Petriglieri in his excellent HBR article: The Psychology Behind Effective Crisis Leadership, describes this leadership quality as “holding”. He defines it as: “the way another person, often an authority figure, contains and interprets what’s happening in times of uncertainty.”

On a practical level what this means is that leaders have to think clearly, offer reassurance, orient people and help them harness their resources and relationships. Perhaps the easiest way to understand the impact of “holding” is to notice what happens when it is absent.  When leaders fail to “hold” their people bewilderment, anxiety, anger, and fragmentation ensue.

The concept of “holding” is a well-known one in the world of coaching. In fact, the term was coined by psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott (1896-1971) who used it to refer to the supportive environment that a therapist creates for a client. He compared holding by a therapist to the nurturing and caring behavior a mother engages in with her child that results in a sense of trust and safety. Seen in this way, “holding” is highly linked to empathy and reflects a more nurturing and feminine approach to leadership than the masculine idea of ‘leading from strength’.

In coaching the term “holding’’ is most often coupled with the idea of creating a safe and respectful space for another to explore their own thinking, shift their awareness and come up with some new and empowering choices for moving forward. Creating a positive impact in this way is highly dependent on the quality of relationship that exists between client and coach and the same is true in a leadership context.

So how can leaders “hold’’ their people well in this time of crisis?

Holding requires a range of leadership skills including the ability to show care and empathy without being derailed by the suffering of others or being drawn into their subjective interpretation of events such that they become entrenched.

Borrowing from approaches in coaching, there are a number of mindsets that leaders can adopt to enable them to “hold’’ others well:

Mindset #1 – People have innate potential

How a person behaves during a crisis, is not reflective of their potential or capability.  Astute leaders can zoom out of the current picture to see the potential of the individual and to help them connect with their own resourcefulness, rather than feeling the need to swoop in and rescue them!

Mindset #2 – You can show respect without agreeing

People usually make the best choices they can with the information they have available to according to their map of reality. Leaders need to respect their people’s map of reality even if they don’t agree with it. Through empathetic listening and insightful questions, leaders can invite their people to open up their lens on reality and identify new choices for moving forward. Resist the temptation to try to ‘’persuade’’ people out of their current view of reality. Remember – People don’t care what you know, until they know how much you care!

Mindset #3 – People already have their answers

Many leaders avoid ‘’holding’’ because they fear being put in a position where they can’t meet the expectations of others. This anxiety is based on the assumption that the role of leadership is to provide answers.  But there is a ‘’dark’’ side to this.  Whilst providing answers can be helpful, it can also make others feel ‘helpless’ and can potentially reinforce self-doubt, limiting beliefs or a level of dependency. Leaders that ‘’hold’’ assume that others have the ability to solve their own problems and know how to strike the balance between providing necessary information and allowing others to come up with their own solutions.  Remember, your answer is not necessarily the best solution to ‘’their’’ problem.

Mindset #4 – Sometimes words get in the way

There are times when people need to be ‘’held’’ without words.  Situations of grief and loss often defy words and all that is required is empathy a comforting presence.  Leaders that ‘’hold’’ others well shake off the pressure to offer platitudes to those experiencing existential pain and are able to simply be ‘’with’’ those them in a supportive and congruent way.

For many leaders who have focused primarily on building functional expertise, the prospect of “holding’’ may seem very daunting, but it is nothing more or less than an opportunity to bring more humanity into leadership and to connect with the shared vulnerability of a workforce in crisis.  

Armed with a few helpful mindsets and coaching skills, leaders that step up into this more human space, are in a position to forge new ways of working and powerfully engage their people through the crisis and beyond!

Want More?

In this her article ‘The 6 C’s of Liminal Leadership‘, Tracy May, CEO of The Diversitas Group unpacks the 6 Key Leadership Competencies that are critical to the world of the future. 

Why We Don’t Network Well

Why We Don’t Network Well

In my previous blog we explored how many of us hate networking! 

 

In my executive coaching practice where I work with transitioning leaders, networking is often the differentiator between those who succeed and those who get stuck. Given that each leadership transition is characterized by increasing levels of complexity and higher performance expectations, creating a network of rich personal contacts provides support, feedback, insight and resources which are invaluable for every emerging leader.  

I am an introvert who struggled to ‘make friends’ with networking throughout most of my professional career. My biggest breakthrough came when I realized that I was never going to get ahead based on my own intrinsic talent or value, but that everything that I wanted or needed to move forward already exists, but in other people’s hands.   

Once I understood that interdependence was not a problem, but a resource to me, I began to give myself permission to build and leverage by network, not just for my good, but for the good of others as well.  This resolved me of my own moral dilemmas about the risk of “using or abusing” other people through networking. Like the rest of the natural world, we are designed to be part of a network and we each contribute to the health of that network in profound and important ways. 

So, what’s behind our resistance to networking?  

Old Beliefs That Get in the Way 

The answer is, at least in part, that our beliefs sometimes struggle to keep pace with changing realities. A common thinking trap for emerging leaders is the assumption that the skills that got you here will take you further.  

Managers who typically rise through the ranks based on their strong technical skills, overlook the fact that a different skill set is required to take them further. When they are challenged to move beyond their functional specialties and address strategic issues across the business, they fail to grasp that this is a relational, not an analytical task.   

The breakthrough comes for them when they see that exchanges and interactions with diverse stakeholders are as core to their new role, as technical skills were to the old role. Instead of viewing networking as a “distraction’’ from real work, they need to shift their mindset to understand that it is core to their success as a leader. 

Acquiring new, role appropriate networking skills can begin when leaders step back and realize they need to change their identity and approach in order to successfully transition to the next level of leadership.  Along with this identity shift is a necessary re-evaluation of old beliefs, including the beliefs relating to networking. 

Fixed or Growth Mindsets 

The ability to abandon limiting beliefs and allow oneself to assimilate more supportive beliefs is key to growth mindset.  Studies on growth mindset have shown that there is a correlation between a fixed mindset and disliking networking. In study of 174 lawyers, researchers documented the effects of either a promotion (growth) or a prevention(fixed) mindset.  They found that those in the promotion mindset think primarily about the growth, advancement and accomplishment that networking can bring them.   

In contrast, those with a prevention mindset view networking as something they are obligated to take part in for professional reasons. The impact of this attitude is that they felt inauthentic whilst engaging in networking, so they did it less often and, as a result, underperformed in key aspects of their jobs.  

Face to Face vs. Online 

For the overwhelming majority of introverts that feel daunted by the prospect of having to go face to face with perfect strangers in a networking situation, I have good news.   

Not all networking needs to happen face to face although the overwhelming evidence is that this is the most effective way to build relationships. It isn’t the only way, however, and often the opportunity to connect first electronically acts as a kind of “ice-breaker” to facilitate a later face to face conversation, which is less daunting to introverts.  

Research conducted by LinkedIn in 2017, where they surveyed 15,905 Linkedin members over 17 countries, found that online networking creates value.  

35% of respondents said that casual conversations on LinkedIn led to new business opportunities. In addition, 25% of respondents reported having established a new business partnership through having a conversation on LinkedIn Messaging, whilst 61% agreed that regular online interaction was key to discovering new job opportunities.  

This is good news for introverts and those of us who are stuck in a lockdown situation with Covid-19. 

So, what can you do to build an effective network that will help you get to where you want to go? Finding a good coach to help you work through your own personal challenges around networking is a good place to start.   

Here are a few key coaching questions to get you started on a plan: 

  • #1 What beliefs are you holding about networking in general and your ability to effectively network yourself? How are these beliefs serving you? What beliefs would be more useful to you right now? If the word ‘’networking’’ doesn’t do it for you, what word can you use to replace it? 
  • #2: Where are you are in your career? Is the network you currently have reflective of the level of your role? 
  • #3: Where do you want to be in 1 year from now? How are you using your network to help you get there? 
  • #4: What actions can you take today to begin to build AND leverage your network? 
  • #5: Who is there in your network that can help you stay on track with networking? 

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Is Your Net-Working? Create and leverage your operational, personal and strategic networks.