Imposter Syndrome

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One of the things that I have experienced myself and heard from many other leaders is the feeling of being an imposter. Everyone of us at some point in time, have felt the feeling of being an imposter.

Sometimes it could be because, we don’t see what someone else sees in us, as capability and/or potential. Other times, it could be that we are not sure if we deserve the leadership position that we currently occupy, specially when we see some really good people on the team.

This is self-doubt. In my opinion, any good leader, worth their salt, needs to have some self-doubt. It helps us maintain a healthy balance and avoid our ego to dictate our actions.

When I was thinking about this, I stumbled onto this short video in which the MIT Sloan Management Review columnist, Sanyin Siang shares her insight on how to deal with imposter syndrome in others around us. You can watch the video here.

This led me to think about how can deal with our own feeling of being an imposter. Here is a funny TED Talk about imposter syndrome presented by entrepreneur and founder of the software company Atlassian, Mike Cannon-Brookes.

Here are some ideas that I employ when I feel like an imposter.

1. Acknowledge that no one knows everything and almost everything is learnable, as long as we are willing to put in the effort and energy to learn it. As entrepreneur and teacher par excellence, Marie Forleo calls it, everything is figure-out-able. As I have mentioned in my book and on this blog multiple times, the ability to learn (learning how to learn) is a super power.

2. Know and acknowledge that if we are the smartest and the most knowledgable person among those that surround us (which is when we would not have imposter syndrome), then we are doing something wrong. Good leaders surround themselves with people who are at least equally good as themselves and great leaders surround themselves with people who are much better at what they do than the leaders themselves.

3. Be happy that we are feeling like an imposter. This means that we still have room to grow into becoming a better leader. We are a better leader due to the presence of the imposter syndrome, as it will keep us on our toes, if we are able to use this to constantly work on our awareness (self awareness, social awareness and contextual awareness) of things around us and be open to the various challenges and opportunities that we are surrounded by.

4. To avoid this from becoming debilitating and therefore a hindrance to our growth as a leader, we need to keep note of our WIN’s. Every time we do something that turns out to be good or when someone praises us for something, save it such that it is accessible anytime we want. Sometimes, it is also a good idea to actively seek mentors, friends and cheerleaders and ask them to give you a short (8 mins) pep talk. We need to build this network before we need them.

5. When this does become difficult to manage, remember that everyone goes through this and that this is normal. It is time for some self compassion. Being kind to others becomes easier, if we learn to be kind to ourselves first. Again, this is a practice and is like a muscle. The more we practice, the better we get this.

In conclusion:

In conclusion, all I can say is that imposter syndrome is real. If you have not felt this thus far in your journey as a leader, it is time for some self reflection and time to seek feedback from our trusted advisor on how we are doing as a leader.

If you have not come face to face with this feeling yet, know and expect it sooner than later. And more importantly, know that this is a feeling. And like all other feelings, it is impermanent and fleeting. So, don’t resist. Just allow it to bubble up, acknowledge and do what is appropriate. It will pass or subside soon enough.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mukesh Gupta
I currently work for SAP as Customer advocate. In this capacity, I am responsible to ensure that the voice of the customer is being heard and play the bridge between customers and SAP. Prior to joining SAP, I have worked with different organizations serving in different functions like customer service, logistics, production planning & sales, marketing and business development functions. I was also the founder-CEO of a start-up called "Innovative Enterprises". The venture was in the retail & distribution business. I blog at http://rmukeshgupta.com.

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