All of us have been there at one time or another. You find yourself sitting in a conference room, looking around at your team. You are surrounded by competent, confident, and highly accomplished individuals. Without knowing why, you find yourself comparing yourself to all of these individuals. You start to question if you belong among them, and maybe even start to feel as if a mistake has been made. You begin to believe that you are an imposter who is getting away with something, and that it is only a matter of time before you are somehow discovered.
This feeling is more common than you might think.
According to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of workers experience imposter syndrome—the feeling that you don’t deserve your job despite your accomplishments in the workplace—at some point in their lives. This psychological phenomenon is indiscriminate, hitting employees across all industries and over all experience levels. Studies do show that women, however, are 10% more likely to experience imposter syndrome than their male counterparts. Imposter syndrome appears around the world and makes us think that we are somehow getting away with something that our team members have earned.
The big question—how can we combat imposter syndrome not only within ourselves, but within our businesses?
It starts with competence, compassion, and initiative.
We have to start with recognizing our own competency. You are running a business and managing a corporate environment. You are clearly a competent individual. The first step to shutting down imposter syndrome is to know and accept your worth. A survey found that 38% of people reported their feelings of inadequacy starting with themselves. It stands to reason. After all, those most impacted by imposter syndrome are often high-achievers and perfectionists. Any misstep or small set-back could quickly become internalized. Maybe this sounds familiar to you. Remind yourself that you have worked hard and earned your success—it was not handed to you by mistake. Be happy and proud of your accomplishments.
Once you’ve recognized and embraced your competency, it is time to proceed with compassion not only toward yourself, but toward your team members. The good news and bad news of imposter syndrome is that you are never alone in experiencing these feelings of inadequacy. However, as a leader, it is your job to manage those feelings in your team. 23% of employees cited overly critical leaders as a reason for their negative self-image at work. When coaching a team member about unwanted behavior, make sure that you are talking to them compassionately. Take the time to check in with your team to see how the general environment of your business is currently doing.
Finally, if you evaluate your team to find that both you and your employees are struggling to see your respective merits, take some initiative. When implementing communications or training for a new skill, take the time to make sure no one is getting left behind. 20% of people reported that having to repeatedly ask for help caused them to feel inadequate. Take the time to reach out first and facilitate opportunities for questions. Through maintaining an open-door policy and communicating often with your employees, you can help to support them and make them feel valued.
Most of all when pushing back against imposter syndrome, be happy with who you are. Bosses and managers lead by example. When you act with confidence, your team will follow in your footsteps. Besides, studies have shown that the phrase “fake it until you make it” actually has some truth to it. Even on days when you don’t feel confident, if you act confident you may soon find your attitude changing—and your corporate culture right along with you.
Not sure how to get started in combating negative self-images in your workplace? Contact Leadership Delta today! We have the confidence and compassion to get you off on the right foot this July.