Dealing with Imposter Syndrome as a Business Leader

According to Kajabi, "Impostor Phenomenon (sometimes referred to as Imposter Syndrome) is alive and well and can keep business newbies from reaching their full potential."

Nearly 70% of the population has suffered imposter syndrome at some point. This is a condition where smart, skilled, capable and often successful business leaders come to convince themselves they're frauds. They look at what they've done, how their social circles commend and praise them, and still manage to convince themselves that they will be exposed as, well, phonies and talentless imposters.

This is no life-threatening disease. But it diminishes confidence and has the potential to obstruct career and business growth. As a business leader, it is imperative you recognize this syndrome.

Characteristics of the imposter syndrome include:
  • Inability to realistically assess skills and competence
  • Self-doubt
  • Seeing external factors as reasons for success
  • Unexplainable fear of not living up to expectations
  • Undeserved self-berating of performance
  • Overachieving
  • Potential to sabotage success

Understanding Imposter Syndrome

As a business leader who wants to inspire greatness, you need to recognize and manage this condition.

Know the indicators
Many of us mistake the condition as humility or modesty. Sufferers react with great discomfort to praise and success. They look down on success to avoid being seen as obnoxious.

You're not alone
Hugely successful people have coped with it. Poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has said, "I have written eleven books, but each time I think, 'uh oh, they’re going to find out now.'"

Look out for fear and humility
The condition includes being overcome with fear over accomplishments. Some see being talented as cause to discount their value.

Dealing With Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a thought pattern. The only real step to combating it is by changing the way you think. Recognize when you're unnecessarily labelling yourself negatively regardless of your successes. Former First Lady Michelle Obama had a mantra: "I am good enough." Use it or find your own.

Keep track of your accomplishments. Sufferers like to minimize their role in success. Instead, acknowledge how that project went through because of you. Another great resource is a mentor, someone who knows your potential. Talk with them about your doubts. If you have a manager, get their perspective too. A mentor will be able to talk about you personally. The manager can address your successes through their own experiences.

These connections are the best way to understand your problems. Leave your ego at the door and set out to solve issues. There is no greater way to help yourself than to seek out someone who can help you.

Fight the voice that keeps questioning your self-worth. Don't minimize or dismiss your accomplishments willy-nilly. Celebrate yourself quietly while others celebrate you openly. You should also temper your expectations. Forget that standard of perfection and hold yourself to achievable and sustainable goals.

Stop measuring your achievements against the next person's. Do not compare your success or even faults to others. This is toxic behavior. You feed into the syndrome. Even if you're trying to follow someone else's path, it's unlikely you'll reach your destination at the same pace or level as anyone else. Trust yourself to know you have the wheel and you'll get to where you want to be.

Don't let the impostor phenomenon take away the success you deserve. See what you've accomplished and be grateful that you're turning dreams into realities like no one else can.

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