Becca Banyard is joined by Executive and Leadership Coach Jen Hope to dive into the topic of imposter syndrome and how it affects women in leadership roles especially. Find out what Impostor Syndrome is and why most people actually suffer from self-doubt, the key differences between the two, and how to use tools and data to identify your strengths and give your brain the information it needs to keep that Impostor Syndrome in check.
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Impostor Syndrome, also known as Impostor Phenomenon, is essentially the internal experience of believing you are not as competent as others believe you to be. It’s a discrepancy between what is objectively accurate about your strengths and how you feel about them internally. Leaders of all stripes suffer from impostor syndrome.
Most people don’t actually suffer from Impostor Syndrome, they suffer from self-doubt or imposter thoughts.Self doubt in its simplest form are thoughts that question our capabilities where our brain doesn’t feel confident yet. When our brain has the data that we can do something with competence, that leads to confidence. Impostor Syndrome ignores that data or dismisses it as something else like luck.
Studies found that Impostor Syndrome is pervasive and not isolated to certain professions or communities. Women tend to experience Impostor Syndrome more than others. We have a history of describing leadership from a historically biased perspective.
When dealing with Impostor Syndrome we have to look at context and the environment. Part of that is a mindfulness practice at the individual level, but it also takes looking at the system they are working under.
Women tend to have more effective leadership styles, but the standard for leadership is more white male-oriented, which causes distance in the measurement.
If you’re questioning yourself at work, consider that they hired you specifically to do your job. There are always going to be other folks that can do what we do, but not how we do it.
There’s a quote in an article I read – “It’s easier to set up a professional development program, put money into training, or to even pay for a coach or a mentor rather than think about the values, ideologies, and subsequent practices amidst the severe underrepresentation in organizations that create imposter syndrome as a mainstay,” says Dr. Kecia Thomas
Real reflection in the workplace looks like bringing in experts and examining the data on bias and how it shows up in our organizations. When someone tells us their experience, it’s our responsibility to listen.
Overcoming Impostor Syndrome
When we’re just starting a new role, it’s expected to experience self-doubt. If that persists after six months that indicates that the environment needs to be examined. Looking at the data is crucial to understanding your own struggle with Impostor Syndrome.
The Leadership Circle Profile is a great tool for understanding your strengths and seeing your 18 competencies. Knowing that information can change the way you think about yourself and how confident you are.
Having a sense of how people value you and your strengths in black and white can be very powerful. Seeing your strengths align with the people around you can also shift how you feel.
It can also show you what you need to work on.
Jen tells a story of a client that was working with a difficult leader. This created an environment that fostered a sense of Impostor Syndrome, but going through the tool with their peers gave them a mind shift changing perspective.
Habits To Guard Against Impostor Syndrome
Mindfulness practice is crucial to giving yourself the ability to pause when self-doubt thoughts enter your mind and choose not to go along with them. There is a moment for medication and therapy and for some those may be the habits they need.
There are habits that we can all do that create more mindfulness in our lives like more sleep, more water, healthier food, and more. But making broad recommendations beyond that isn’t very effective.
Accepting Different Leaders
As a society, we need to look at our own bias and start examining why our view of leadership is the way it is. People aren’t always comfortable looking inwards, but the more we can do that the more empathy and acceptance for others.
Cleaning the wounds of past trauma is painful yet critically important for making the world better.