The term “imposter syndrome” has been around since the 1970s. But only recently has it become truly recognized as a relatable concept. Whether that’s because of instant access to information online or that the world has become, in some ways, more aware of emotions — either way, the feelings behind imposter syndrome are very real.
This is especially true for those in positions of power.
As you increase your position in the world, whether at work, in your personal life, or both, there are always others striving to bring you down. This can create feelings of self-doubt and a lower sense of self-worth.
If you have these feelings as a leader, it’s important to learn how to deal with imposter syndrome at work. If you don’t have confidence in your abilities, your team won’t either.
Understanding what causes feelings of imposter syndrome in leadership is the first step in overcoming imposter syndrome at work. The next is building a leadership development strategy and taking advantage of executive leadership coaching.
An expert leadership development coach like Steve Farber will guide you on your journey of self-discovery and help you learn how to combat imposter syndrome as you strive to become a more effective leader.
Why New Executives Are in Critical Positions: Early Signs of Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace
Before you can learn how to combat imposter syndrome, you need to understand it. This is essential for new executives — you not only face pressure to perform at higher standards than anybody else in the workplace, but you also recognize that the success, or failure, of your organization, rests solely on your shoulders.
This responsibility can be challenging for anybody. For somebody new to their role, it can lead to feelings of loneliness, self-doubt, and imposter syndrome in the workplace.
Once those feelings creep in, they are difficult to avoid and sprinkle everything with doubt. But by being aware of early signs of imposter syndrome in the workplace, you can arm yourself with knowledge and resources to combat them.
Lack of Self-Confidence at Work
Audacious leaders believe in themselves, which inspires others to also. On the flip side, leaders who do not believe in their abilities are less likely to convince others to follow. It is painfully obvious when a leader is insecure or seeking validation. This lack of self-confidence leads to a greater chance of giving up when facing obstacles or difficult decisions.
Leaders who are confident in themselves are much more likely to achieve success.
Fear of Failing Your Team
Fear can cause indecisiveness and feelings of isolation. For a leader, it’s normal to experience self-doubt at times or feel as if you’re alone at the top. Identifying and evaluating what causes those feelings can lead to growth, but it’s important not to let them create imposter syndrome leadership.
Understanding how to deal with imposter syndrome at work is the first step to battling it.
If you let fear run rampant, it can prevent you from taking risks, trying new things, and ultimately becoming an Extreme Leader. Instead, recognize that your team is there to support you, not judge you. Have confidence that you will not let them down, and deal with imposter syndrome at work before your fear of failing takes over the team.
Burnout from Working Too Hard to Prove Your Worth
The term “burnout” is often used to describe the exhaustion and stress that come from being overworked. In the case of many new leaders, burnout can also arise from self-doubt or dealing with feelings of imposter syndrome at work.
It is natural to want to prove yourself in a new leadership role.
In addition to gaining the respect of your team, you also want them to feel confident that you will not lead them astray. But if you go too far, and push yourself to exhaustion, it can be an indicator that self-doubt is taking over. In this case, your lack of confidence in your abilities to lead by example and collaborate with your team will counteract your effectiveness as a leader.
How to Combat Imposter Syndrome like an Extreme Leader
Dealing with imposter syndrome may feel like facing an insurmountable mountain. But just like you need quality climbing gear to reach the summit, you need expert support to craft a leadership development strategy to teach you how to deal with imposter syndrome at work.
That support comes from an expert leadership development coach like Steve Farber.
Executive leadership coaching will help you recognize early warning signs, and learn how to deal with imposter syndrome at work.
In addition to engaging an expert, implementing the following strategies will help you discover the audacity needed to become the Extreme Leader you are meant to be.
Believe in Yourself
It may sound cliche, but the first step to overcoming self-doubt is believing in yourself. It is vital to recognize you were chosen because you have the skills, knowledge, and experience your organization needs to achieve its goals.
Believe in yourself the same way your team does.
Your employees recognize your capabilities as a leader. They trust you to guide them and the organization toward success. Assure your team that they are correct to believe in you by believing in yourself. This will generate positive energy that is contagious, infusing your team with the strength needed to overcome challenges.
Accept and Validate Your Feelings (But Also Perform a Fact-Check)
Self-doubt literally means doubting yourself. While the feelings themselves are valid, it’s crucial to determine if they are based in truth or fear. Oftentimes, these debilitating emotions that prevent you from achieving your dreams and reaching your full potential are unnecessary.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t valid. Even if your interpretation of an event is subjective (rather than factual), it doesn’t devalue your feelings about the event. It’s important not to ignore those emotions, but rather combat them by letting go of any not based on reality.
Recognizing your feelings and where they’re coming from is the first step to releasing and recovering from them.
Trust Your Team to Generate Honest Feedback
When feelings of doubt about your competence, contributions, or leadership style arise, the best method to combat them is seeking honest feedback from your team. After all, these are the people who have the most to gain from being open with you, which will help you improve your performance.
In order to create a workplace environment that fosters honest feedback, you need to always be transparent in your communication. This allows employees to feel comfortable providing constructive criticism or, better yet, sharing how you’ve positively impacted them.
Either way, discovering more about yourself through the eyes of your team will organically boost your confidence.
While it’s understandable that you may not have all the answers immediately, your team may have higher expectations of you. This can create self-doubt and lead to becoming overwhelmed.
Showing vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Guarding your emotions is predictable and counterproductive to your ultimate goal. By showing vulnerability, you not only become more relatable to your team, but you’re building trust and credibility between you.
Admitting you don’t have all the answers yet lets your team know you are open to learning and can admit when you need help. It’s a powerful way for you and your team to cultivate a more positive and productive work environment.
If an employee expressed feelings of imposter syndrome, you would likely recognize that, while their concerns are not valid, their feelings are, and you would offer compassion.
Practicing self-compassion is just as important. This means accepting yourself as you are, offering yourself understanding and kindness, and recognizing that everyone makes mistakes. By showing yourself the same compassion you would for others, you will be better equipped to handle the challenges that come with being a leader.
Giving yourself the gift of compassion is the best way to step into your new role and lead with audacity and confidence. Your self-compassion will allow you to have more empathy for your team, which is essential for building trust and cultivating a positive work environment.
Notice Your Accomplishments by Setting Smaller Goals
It is important to always keep the big picture in mind. However, in order to achieve your vision, sometimes you need to break your goals down into manageable tasks. This is especially helpful when self-doubt creeps in, as it allows you to see the progress you’re making in real time.
Creating smaller steps that lead in the right direction will build confidence and help you remain motivated as you progress toward your ultimate goal.
A Leadership Keynote Speaker will Help you Learn How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome at Work
The right executive leadership coach, like Steve Farber, can help you understand feelings of imposter syndrome and what causes them. This will not only help you combat them, but will also help identify your strengths and weaknesses in the process.
Armed with this knowledge, you will be ready to develop a plan that includes realistic goals and accountability measures to overcome self-doubt and become an Extreme Leader.
Combat Self-Doubt with an Executive Leadership Coaching Session
Don’t let feelings of imposter syndrome destroy the hard work you have put in to achieve your leadership role. Hiring an executive coach or leadership keynote speaker like Steve Farber will help you recognize the skills, abilities, knowledge, and experience that made your organization choose you, and encourage you to continue building on your team as well.
See yourself as others do in order to lead your organization to achieve greater success.