Thought Leadership

Top 3 Tips to Overcome Imposter Syndrome in Your Workplace

Do you ever feel as though you are hiding a big secret and that one day someone will wake up and learn the truth— that you don’t deserve the position you are in. If you often find yourself feeling unworthy of your accomplishments and dismissing your achievements, then it’s highly likely that you are suffering from Imposter Syndrome.


What is Imposter Syndrome?


Discovered in the 1970s by researchers Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, Imposter Syndrome is described as a feeling of inadequacy in spite of achieving all that one has worked for. People who suffer from Imposter Syndrome feel unworthy of their accomplishments and believe that people will see through them.


Initially, Clance and Imes theorised that this Impostor Phenomenon only affected professional women but as the decades went by, the feeling of being a fraud in the workplace grew more and more common across both genders. In fact, in 2007 a study showed that nearly 70% of people experience at least one episode of this Impostor Syndrome in their lives.


Imposter Syndrome is not just limited to people who are in the highest-ranking position such as CEOs or CFOs but team managers can often suffer from it as well. One of the reasons is that they fail to accept their success and tend to be overly critical of themselves. As a leader of a team, it is important to work past this feeling of being unworthy so that you and others can trust and believe in yourself. Here are a few tips to overcoming Imposter Syndrome in the workplace.


  1. End Internal Comparisons

As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and that’s why the first step towards getting over your Imposter Syndrome is to stop comparing yourself with other employees. Running a successful business involves smooth teamwork, and if you are a manager or CEO it is because your employees and investors believe in your leadership abilities. Out of every other person in the organisation they chose you because they see your worth. So why waste time being anxious that someone deserves your position more than you. If you feel the need to compare, a useful tip is to use your past self as an example to see how far you have come and celebrate your milestones, no matter how big or small they are.


2. Create A Support Network At Work

Most managers believe that they need to put on a facade of being an unwavering team leader, but you might not be the only one suffering from Imposter Syndrome, your employees might feel the same way and the only way you’ll know is by having open dialogues with them. Tim Draper, venture capitalist and founder of Draper Associates and DFJ, once said “Wander around, randomly connect with employees, ask them what they’re doing, and how they’re doing. Explain what you are  doing and what challenges you face. Often, they’ll come up with good ideas for how to overcome your obstacles in the process.” And studies have shown that workplace social support buffers the negative effects of impostor tendencies on job satisfaction and performance.


3. Compliment Yourself

Flattering yourself might seem like a vain thing to do, but when summing up their report on Imposter Syndrome, the original researchers Clance and Imes believed that by allowing yourself to state and feel your positive qualities and achievements, you can use this tool of self-awareness to change your mindset. Try adopting a mindset that sets aside your imperfections and focus on the good qualities that you possess that will help you grow into a better leader. Journaling or repeating self-affirmations when plagued with feelings of self-doubt or anxiety due to the Imposter Phenomenon can help you move past it.


Imposter Syndrome is something that people from different ages, races, genders and career paths suffer from, even imminent personalities such as the great Maya Angelou, First Lady Michelle Obama, Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz to name a few. If left unchecked, Imposter Syndrome can hamper the growth of not just your career but your entire team. So put aside that sense of isolation and fears for you are not alone in the fight against overcoming this feeling.