Why Everyone Has Imposter Syndrome All Wrong

Imposter Syndrome, as we know it, is flawed and most solutions often don’t work.

In this 5 part series, we’ll uncover the truth about imposter syndrome and show you how to harness it to fuel your personal growth and diminish its destructive affects from your life.

LEADERSHIP QUESTIONED

I recently spoke with a friend about a situation where her confidence had recently taken a tumble.

Her boss had reprimanded her, because they thought that she wasn’t handling a problem manager correctly.

The manager was not only unprofessional in how they talked to my friend, (again their boss), and the people they managed, but was also a raging micromanager, which was another problem entirely.

This manager was causing a lot of tension in the work environment. Staff was very frustrated and burnt out and the turnover was high in the department.

My friend felt extremely anxious, because her boss had told her that she needed to step up and fix the problem or she would be out.

When I spoke to my friend, she told me that she felt like her superiors didn’t have confidence in her leadership and that she was afraid of losing her job.

I could see how her experience at this job made her seriously doubt herself and her abilities. In fact, it’s quite common to question one’s own leadership after facing criticism or being reprimanded.

Receiving negative feedback when you are trying your best to navigate a challenging position can plunge even the most capable people into the pitfalls of imposter syndrome.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is common term to describe feeling inadequate and / or unworthy of your position and the accompanying fear that others will find out that you don’t belong and see you as a fraud.

It has the potential to eat away at your confidence, leaving fear and insecurities, that can affect your:

  • ability to make decisions
  • communication with others
  • leadership abilities
  • team’s morale and productivity
  • mental and emotional well-being
  • overall job performance and more.

Here are a few scenarios. You may not even have to imagine them, because you’re already experiencing something similar, but keep reading anyway.

The Many Ways That Imposter Syndrome Presents

The thing about imposter syndrome is that it can come in many different forms. Some even experience a combination of them. Here are the more notable forms that it presents:

(Click The (+) For More Details About Each Symptom.)

The need to be perfect and fearing that any mistakes you make will expose you as a fraud.

Constantly striving for exceptional performance and accomplishments at all costs as a way to prove your worth and competence.

Downplaying or dismissing your achievements by attributing them to other people, luck, timing, etc.

Engaging in constant comparisons with others leading to feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, often setting unrealistic standards or expectations for yourself.

Feeling uncomfortable receiving compliments or recognition.

Overworking or taking on excessive responsibilities as a means to validate their competence and avoid being exposed as an imposter.

Engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors or creating obstacles that hinder your progress. This is often driven by a fear of success and the pressure to maintain your perceived reputation.

Living in constant fear of being discovered as a fraud or seen as incompetent, worrying that others will uncover your perceived lack of knowledge and skills.

Each one of these forms can actually stop you from reaching your full potential as an authentic and effective leader.

Let’s use the earlier scenarios to paint a fuller picture on what is being missed.

Imposter Scenario 1

The fear of making the wrong decision is keeping you from making a decision at all. The longer it takes to make the call, the longer your team members wait without direction on what to do next. Pressure is mounting for you AND with everyone else as work comes to a grinding halt. Valuable time is ticking by.

As your indecisiveness and avoidance becomes apparent to others, they begin to lose trust in your leadership. This could lead to people questioning your directives in the future, going behind your back to get things done, or worse, above you.

Imposter Scenario 2

Your desire to be seen as a peer and not the boss has you failing to communicate with a problem employee. which is creating a long term problem. Employees will notice that the problem employee’s behavior is not being addressed, which is creating a toxic work environment. Others are being negatively affected and if the problem continues to be avoided, they won’t feel safe communicating their issues to you / management over time. They will come to the conclusion that nothing will change, so why bother. Trust and safety dips. Morale dips. Productivity dips and people begin to jump ship, ultimately costing you and your company a lot of money, time, and other valuable resources.

Imposter Scenario 3

A heavy stressful workload can’t be balanced over long periods of time without dire consequences to your physical health, your work performance, your professional development, your emotional well-being, and your personal life. While working like a government mule, you may not recognize that your working conditions could be an indication that the system is broken.

What if instead of killing yourself, you were honest about how hard it is to maintain your excessive workload? The team could rally around you and get you desperately needed relieve, perhaps by delegating tasks to underutilized team members or reprioritizing tasks, so that you don’t try to do everything at once.

Why This is Important

When you’re in a leadership position, whether in corporate, your own business or non-profit organization, or your the head of a movement, imposter syndrome has the power to derail you, especially when the stakes are high.

What Can You Do About Imposter Syndrome?

There are so many recommendations for ways to “eradicate”, “overcome”, or “eliminate” imposter syndrome, but here’s the thing…

Most of them have it all wrong.

In this 5 part series, we’ll uncover the truth about imposter syndrome and show you how to harness it to fuel your personal growth and diminish its destructive affects from your life.

Each series can be viewed here:
Series 1: Intro to Imposter Syndrome (this page)
Series 2: The Major Issue That Starts at the Beginning
Series 3: TBD
Series 4: TBD
Series 5: TBD

Click the button below to be the first to know when the next one drops: