People in positions of leadership, celebrities, or individuals who are more in the public eye are by no means immune to it; in fact, they probably experience it at a higher rate than most others. What are we talking about; imposter syndrome!
So what is imposter syndrome?
It is that persistent voice in your head that reminds you that you’re a fraud, and that “they” are all going to find you out sooner rather than later. You’ll be exposed for the faker you are, and lose everything that you’ve worked for.
Sometimes this voice is quiet, and other times it screams at you. It may depend on what you’re facing that particular day, or it may be that you didn’t get much sleep the night before and you’re feeling a little more vulnerable than usual.
So how do you deal with it when it comes up, especially when you’re the executive who’s supposed to be leading the way?
First and foremost, acknowledge that it is what it is: a syndrome. Sometimes, giving it the attention it needs will help it to sink back into the corners of your mind and be quiet for a while.
While you’re there, give yourself some credit where credit is due. While we’re feeling like imposters, we also don’t want to be seen as gloating, and most definitely don’t want to be accused of taking all the credit, when others contributed.
Be realistic; you have contributed significantly to getting to where you are now. It wasn’t accident, or that no one else was available. There were choices you made and actions you took that have got you where you are now. Own it and take credit for it.
Part of fuelling this little voice is the fact that we tend to hide away any and all those things that could reduce our reputation in the eyes of others.
Yet you, like every other person in your team and your organisation, are human, and humans have a tendency to make mistakes from time to time. When you hide them away in shame, you miss out on the chance to learn from your mistakes, and we know that’s where most of our biggest lessons come from.
Sharing stories about your mistakes with your team or employees not only helps you to connect with them, and build stronger relationships, it also shows them that you’re human and an authentic leader. As scary as it may feel to admit your flaws, it also helps to remove a significant amount of the load on your shoulders.
You also take away some of the evidence the Imposter Syndrome voice has against you.
Talking with your team is a great way to help you when you’re struggling to work out what you learnt from your failure. You’ll find your team will easily spot the positives that you’ve been missing, and that’s great for both of you. You’re showing people the mindset you want them to use when analysing their own mistakes and failures. You’re building a culture of positivity, and booting out the voice of the imposter within us all.
Being aware of it when it rears its ugly head can help you to talk it down. It’s also important to be aware of what your fears and worries actually are.
It can help to write them down; brainstorm or brain dump them onto a sheet of paper, or use the unconscious stream of thought method. Pretending these fears aren’t there, or telling yourself they’re ridiculous doesn’t deal allow you to deal with them.
Understanding the fears and worries your team have are also beneficial. It allows you to better address the real issues that are going on, rather than ploughing along out of habit, or based on assumptions.
Chat with your team more, expose your authenticity, and this will encourage them to do the same – they’re very likely experiencing Imposter Syndrome, too. Most importantly, acknowledge that it not only exists, but is it does so in epidemic proportions. You’re not alone, ignoring it will not make it go away.
If you’re still struggling with the syndrome after taking all these actions, talk to Linda about her coaching and mentoring services. They are designed to help increase self-awareness and emotional intelligence, enabling you to confidently lead and influence high-performing teams. Call her today on 0405 322 005.