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4 ways to overcome imposter syndrome

By: Jessica Proeller

As the modern workplace continues to evolve, so does the definition of effective leadership. However, one characteristic of successful leadership remains constant—authenticity.

As you work hard to build new skills and expand your capabilities, you may find yourself at times questioning or doubting your abilities as a leader. This feeling—which is completely normal—is commonly known as imposter syndrome.

Signs of imposter syndrome may include the following:

  • you have difficulty accepting praise,
  • you discount your success,
  • you allow yourself to be overworked,
  • you’re afraid you’re not good enough, and
  • you don’t feel like you deserve success.

Researchers believe that up to 70% of people have suffered from imposter syndrome in one form or another at some point in their lives.

“I tend to experience imposter syndrome in situations where I perceive the stakes to be higher. But I remind myself that it’s those exact situations where there’s increased opportunity for learning, growth, and development,” said Ilana Zinyk, featured expert in the Essential Skills for Leaders Certificate course Leadership in Action.

Here are four ways to help you try to overcome imposter syndrome and be your best self!

1. Take credit

As a leader, you may always give praise to your team for all their hard work, but don’t be afraid to take a little credit as well.

When you are instrumental in leading a project to success, own it. Humility is an important quality to have, but constantly underplaying your contribution does not help your confidence as a leader.

2. Remember that your work does not define you

The next time your first attempt at something fails, remind yourself it’s your idea that needs work, not you. Separating yourself from your content puts things in perspective. Virtually no one gets something perfect their first time trying it.

Good ideas are always being refined and, frankly, many start out needing work. Success requires revision.

Watch as PowerED™ subject matter expert Ilana Zinyk provides some insight on getting to know your inner critic.

3. Visualize a successful outcome

Visualizing yourself in your current role helps you to become more comfortable with it. This trick is used by professional athletes and high performing professionals.

It’s as though you are holding a dress rehearsal in your head. You’ll feel better equipped to tackle the real presentation, conversation, or another event when it happens.

4. Talk to someone

If you talk to a trusted colleague, you’ll almost certainly find that everybody feels out of place sometimes. Talking with a mentor is also a good way to connect and realize you’re not alone in having imposter syndrome.

Zinyk says when she’s experiencing imposter syndrome, she reminds herself of past successes she’s had, and asks herself questions like, “When have I been in similar situations where I’ve come across in a really confident or competent way?”

Moments of self-doubt are completely normal. It’s how you handle them that matters. When insecurity creeps up, take the time to reassess and reconnect with your unique value as a leader.

Leadership is a journey, and a never-ending one at that. As you embark on this phase of your career, remember to be compassionate with yourself, recognize your strengths, and seek out opportunities to continue to learn something new and grow in your skills and abilities.

The PowerED™ Essential Skills for Leaders Certificate course Leadership in Action directly addresses imposter syndrome and how to overcome it.

Learn more about how to overcome those moments of self-doubt and regain your confidence as a leader today.

  • February 1, 2024
Guest Blog from:
Jessica Proeller