Facing Impostor Syndrome

Do you ever feel like an impostor at work? You’re not alone, and you may be experiencing impostor syndrome, a phenomenon in which individuals may feel self-doubt, unqualified to do their jobs, or question if who they are and what they are capable of is less valuable than how others perceive them. According to the International Journal of Behavior Science, 70% of adults face this at least once in their lifetime. 

Leaders are not immune to impostor syndrome and its effects. Whether you experience it yourself or an employee shares their feelings of inadequacy with you, here are some tactics to overcome this challenge. 

Name The Source of the Syndrome  

Impostor syndrome can arise from any number of factors or seemingly out-of-the-blue. The first step to overcome feelings of low self-esteem, inadequacy, or insecurity, is to identify the source and address the root cause. Trace this emotional response to see if it leads to a particular interaction or instance, then use your findings to offer direction toward actionable results. Have you experienced failure recently? Did you receive negative feedback? Has a new weakness recently come to your attention? Examine if there are changes you can implement to avoid triggering these feelings in the future. 

Train for Strengths and Weaknesses 

Training can increase your confidence and ease your negative perception of yourself. Even if you can’t trace your impostor syndrome to its source, you can reaffirm your skills and abilities by further training your strengths and tackling your weaknesses head-on. Doing something is often better than doing nothing, so if you’re looking for a place to start, consider learning a new skill, or expanding your knowledge base. Ask your supervisor for input on your knowledge gaps and speak with your colleagues about trainings they have completed for ideas.  

Ask for Help and Use Feedback to Your Advantage 

One of the most challenging yet impactful things to do at work can be asking for help. Fear of being perceived as incapable of performing your role can be debilitating. But, when you’re facing impostor syndrome, it may be well worth getting over the fear for your own good. A trusted peer can act as a sounding board to listen to your concerns and offer feedback on your abilities. Your supervisor may be willing to act as a mentor to help you find new ways to grow. You may receive amazing feedback that only validates your skills, or great constructive criticism that can guide your next steps. When negative feedback comes, avoid falling into a pattern of despair and aim to use it as a growing opportunity to combat impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is a challenge that can incite many deeply personal questions and feelings, so take every opportunity to soak up knowledge and support when it’s offered. 

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