By Kielan Tayler, Lead Facilitator and Executive Coach.
A 2022 survey of 2,500 UK workers shows that 58 per cent of workers experience imposter syndrome. The report from global job site Indeed, revealed women are nearly twice as likely as men to frequently or always experience imposter syndrome (21 per cent vs 12 per cent), and millennials are the age group most affected (27 per cent). As much as 30 per cent of high achievers and at least 70 per cent of adults may experience imposter syndrome at least once in their lifetime. The report also highlighted the lack of support for mental health issues in the workplace.
Imposter syndrome is when you doubt your abilities and feel like a fraud. It is a feeling of inadequacy regardless of your expertise and experience. People with imposter syndrome feel that they are not as competent or intelligent as others might think—and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them.
In this article, we will look at how to recognise imposter syndrome, the personality types that are prone to it, and how firms can help employees to deal with and overcome imposter syndrome. Our Advance programme for Aspiring Women Leaders has a module dedicated exclusively to imposter syndrome and how women can deal with it and overcome it.
Imposter syndrome can make you feel incompetent, and that success is impossible, regardless of any accolades you may have achieved. If you have imposter syndrome you are ruled by fear, fear of not meeting another person’s expectations, and you consider past success and hard work to be a result of good luck rather than expertise.
Symptoms of imposter syndrome include:
Imposter syndrome can have implications in other areas of life as well and people who suffer from it may be at increased risk of anxiety and burnout. If someone calls attention to your success, it can trigger feelings of imposter syndrome. This could happen if you receive an award, pass an exam, or get promoted. Failure after a string of successes can also cause you to critique and question your overall aptitude and abilities.
Personality traits largely drive the causes of imposter syndrome. If you experience imposter syndrome you struggle with self-efficacy, perfectionism, and neuroticism. Competitive environments also impact how the effects manifest themselves. One school of thought suggests that you develop feelings of imposter syndrome if you faced intense pressure about academic achievement from your parents in childhood.
Here are 5 common types of ‘personalities’ that are prone to imposter syndrome:
Imposter syndrome can limit your potential for growth and can prevent you from pursuing new opportunities for growth, whether at work or in your personal life. The best way to overcome imposter syndrome is to:
Remind yourself constantly that you are not perfect and that you do not need to be, and that you onlyneed to do your best. Break the cycle of excessive pressure that only you place on yourself and reward yourself daily for the smallest triumphs.
The most effective approach employers can take to deal with imposter syndrome is to create a culture of openness and support through:
And finally, the most important way to deal with imposter syndrome is to:
Lead by example: Senior leaders should model healthy coping strategies and open communication about mental health to create a safe and supportive culture.
Employers have the resources and budget at their disposal that they can invest in coaching to help staff who struggle with imposter syndrome. This personal development will not only improve the personal aspects of their lives, but it will also lead to greater professional development more well-rounded, productive employees, and a more positive working environment.
If you want to know more about how coaching can help your employees deal with and overcome imposter syndrome, then get in touch with us.
If you are interested in how your aspiring women leaders can deal with imposter syndrome, then find out more about our Advance programme here.