Imposter syndrome impacts everyone at some point. The feeling like you don’t belong because your abilities aren’t up to par with others, or your accomplishments don’t fit the role you were given. This belief that you might be a fraud, except no one has figured it out, just yet!
So, there is a couple of ways I look at this feeling of being an imposter in the role you have:
- It’s true, you’re an imposter. You might get lucky and no one will figure it out, but most likely at some point, they will. So, you have the time from right now, until you’re figured out, to actually not be an imposter! Good luck.
- You feel like an imposter, but you actually know your sh*t. This one is just your insecurities f’ing with you. You probably just need a good life coach or partner, a little self-confidence boost to actually put you on the right path. (Don’t call me, I’m not a Life Coach!)
Within HR and TA we see quite a few imposters. It usually. takes about 12-18 months for an imposter to be figured out after hiring. The world, and LinkedIn, are littered with imposters with year and a half working stints. Some are so good at being imposters they actually will jump from one failure to the next and get promoted! But, the timing always stays true!
The world is also full of really great people who feel like imposters. Why does a good, solid performer feel like an imposter?
- You work for a weak executive who don’t know that you are actually a really great hire and have great potential. This lack of belief by your leadership leaves you feeling like an imposter.
- You just suffer from lack of confidence. You might have always had low confidence. Did you feel like you did bad on every test in college, but always got an “A”? Here’s your sign.
- You have a bunch of senior level terrorists on your team that make you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, when in reality they don’t know what they’re doing, but they’ve been around longer and you’re the fourth leader who will fail with this ragtag bunch of under performers.
How do you stop feeling like an imposter in your leadership role?
Validate your greatness!
The more time you spend within your peer group outside of your organization, the more you’ll be able to assess if you’re an actual imposter or if you actually know what you’re doing. The first step is to hang out with some peers you believe are rock stars and start assessing what they say versus what you say. Are they asking you for advice? Are you only asking them for advice? (Pro tip: true imposters don’t ask for advice, because they want to continue to believe they know everything!)
Remember why you got hired into your role!
What were you hired to do? Did you do it? Are you close? If you did accomplish what you set out to do, what’s next on your plan? What still needs to be fixed? Can you fix it? Do you need outside help? Have you upgraded your team? You were hired because an executive thought it was important to do something in your organization, and that’s your job. You will either do it, or not do it. Imposters never do the job they were hired to do, but they’ll tell you they did!
Leaders are action oriented. Imposters are not.
Imposters don’t take action, because they don’t know what action to take, or they are fearful that the action they will take will blow up and they will fail. Leaders take action to better the situation of their department/function, knowing failure could happen, but doing nothing if just continued failure of why they were hired. The one action imposters will take are usually around something to do with showing someone else is to blame for the failure of their function. “We would have succeeded if marketing and IT would have given us a better career site!”
Don’t fear your feelings of being an imposter!
Feeling like an imposter, especially for new leaders, might be the most natural feeling a leader has! Questioning yourself and your abilities will drive you to learn what you don’t, and partner with those who know more. The imposter feelings will give you the pressure you need to succeed and not slow down.
One helpful key to imposter feelings if having a mentor or peer, outside of your organization, that you can share your feelings with. Someone to bounce ideas off of, and help you understand the difference of being an imposter and being a leader. These discussions are important for your mental health.
Are you an imposter in your current role? The real imposters will answer “No!” and change nothing. The real leaders will think about it and determine the feelings are just feelings, and go about doing something about it.