I will let you in on a dirty little secret: almost every leader I work with has, at some point, fallen prey to the Imposter Syndrome.
They have felt like a fraud. They have attributed their accomplishments to luck, chance, connections, charm, or other external factors. Perhaps they have even felt uncomfortable for the praise they receive.
The Imposter Syndrome doesn’t have to hold you back if you learn to manage it. Below are some tips that will help with this:
- Go on the offense. Those with Impostor Syndrome are hyper-sensitive to criticism and crushed when they get feedback because they view it as evidence of their inadequacy. One of the best professional and personal development skills you can develop is learning how to elicit and receive constructive feedback.
- Don’t take it personally. When you get feedback and feel self-doubt creeping in, short-circuit the habit of taking it to too personally by asking yourself “How would a person who doesn’t take criticism personally respond?”.
- Watch your words. By demeaning your accomplishments, you’re diminishing yourself. Start throwing this junk language out of your vocabulary. Those with Impostor Syndrome commonly undermine themselves by using minimizing language like:
This is just my opinion…
Sorry I’m still working on this…
I am not an accountant, but…
- Welcome praise. Stop pushing compliments away. Accepting compliments or accolades for your work is not egotistical, despite what your inner critic might be telling you. Internalize the next comment you receive as a fact. Don’t judge yourself against what was said, or analyze it for deeper meaning. For example, if someone congratulates you on landing a major client, accept it gracefully saying, “Thanks! I’m glad all the hard work paid off” or “Thank you! I’m thrilled that you said so.” Leave it at that. There’s no reason to launch into an elaborate explanation of about how you barely made the deadline, or it was just luck.
- Stop volunteering. Quit volunteering more information than necessary merely to point out your flaws before someone else does (because that won’t happen!).
Try one of these techniques the next time you sense Impostor Syndrome creeping up. Because ultimately, holding yourself back and letting yourself be a victim of the Impostor Syndrome is the highest risk of all.
Contributed by Anna Conrad, JD, principal at Impact Leadership Solutions and friend of Inspiring HR.
Anna Conrad has coached and trained thousands of people in over 200 countries, and has been a sought-after expert on over 300 radio shows throughout the United States. She is the author of (R)evolution: One Man’s Leadership Journey. Anna’s second book, Rise: Finding Your Executive Voice, will be available August 2019.