Scroll to top
© Optimize Consulting Inc. | All Rights Reserved

Embracing the Imposter

Optimize Blog - August 5, 2015 - 0 comments

Often we come across leaders and professionals who suffer from feelings of fraudulence or inadequacy at work – the condition known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
These are generally senior managers who have been promoted to a new role in which their experience is being tested to the limits. Despite support from their bosses and receiving positive feedback that they have great operational, strategic and people skills, they are often beset with self doubt.
So what is the real issue? Concerns that somehow the skills and knowledge required don’t really exist, wondering why they were chosen over others for the role and thinking the company may have made a mistake?
But these feelings are not necessarily a bad thing and our experience working with those with ‘Imposter Syndrome’ are often more rewarding as the individuals are always alert, thoughtful and self-aware. They maintain an element of humility that garners great respect from the people in their teams and colleagues.
The dangers of feeling like a fake though can be debilitating and if that phenomenon is coupled with the tendency to be a perfectionist, the goals start to become set at excessively high and unrealistic levels leading to the experiencing of self-defeating thoughts and behaviours when the goals are not achieved. Perfectionism then often turns these individuals with Imposter Syndrome into workaholics.
There is no doubt, as we have said many times, that the business world is becoming ever more complex and for many the desire to control things, when it is becoming increasingly clear that is it more difficult to control anything, leads to frustration and questioning of ones own ability. We don’t subscribe to the notion of ‘impostorism’ as a reflection of an anxious personality or a cultural stereotype but rather we understand that complexity breeds self doubt.
The cost of those with Imposter Syndrome to their companies in terms of unrealized human potential can be enormous. When qualified workers fear taking a calculated risk, get caught in the ‘expert trap’ and are prone to perfectionism and procrastination, there’s a leak in the business’s human talent pool.
Some behaviours that might be seen are:
• dismissive attitude when praised
• feeling that peers with the same responsibilities are more mature
• reluctance to accept new responsibilities or challenges for fear of failure
• unnatural reaction to constructive criticism
• worrying that others will begin to realize their shortcomings
So, what can be done? The first step like any move toward a change is a bit of self awareness. Once you recognize that there may be an issue instead of telling yourself they are going to find you out or that you don’t deserve success, remind yourself that it’s normal not to know everything.
Then consider the context. Most people will experience occasions where they don’t feel 100% confident. There may be times when you feel out of your element and self-doubt is a normal reaction. You are entitled to make mistakes occasionally and so forgive yourself. Don’t forget to reward yourself for getting the important things right. Keep your eye on the outcome and doing the right thing.
By doing the right thing you can keep yourself focused and calm.

Related posts

Post a Comment