It sounds like something that should come naturally but honestly? Overcoming impostor syndrome and building confidence in the workplace can be trickier than it looks.
If you’ve been struggling with it, you might find it both troubling and comforting to know that impost0r syndrome is not uncommon among businesswomen, especially women starting a new business, a new job, or a taking on a promotion and more responsibilities.
KPMG’s U.S. Deputy Chair and COO, Laura Newinski, told Forbes that after surveying 750 executive women from major companies, KPMG found that 75% of them had experienced impostor syndrome at various points of their careers. Meanwhile, 85% of the women surveyed believe it to be common amongst fellow businesswomen in corporate America. With many who believe that men either don’t experience it as much or don’t talk about it.
What is Impostor Syndrome?
Identifying Impostor Syndrome is a key element in overcoming professional self-doubt and building real confidence. What is it? KPMG’s study defined it as “the inability to believe your success is deserved as a result of your hard work and the fact you possess distinct skills, capabilities and experiences. Rather, your inclination is to internalize that you got where you are by other means such as luck or being in the right place at the right time.
In short? You don’t quite believe you’ve earned your place and, thus, sometimes doubt your own ability to get the job done. It can be problematic, mess with your head and, sometimes, even lead to self-sabotage. The trick is reminding yourself that you are where you are for a reason, which is easier said than done when you’re stuck in your own feelings of inadequacy.
A Few Tips to Avoid Professional Self-Doubt
1Recognize your fears: A lot of that doubt comes from fear. Fear of failure, fear of being found out, fear of what someone might think or say about our work – the options are endless. Sometimes, so much so, that it’s difficult to see past them. So, it might help to take a moment to really think about the things that scare you about that new position, or about starting again. Naming those fears can help you know what it is that you’re dealing with, and the best ways to overcome it.
2Avoid comparisons: Trying to be someone else is an impossible and exhausting task. Comparisons are no one’s friends so instead of focusing on how much better (or worse) someone’s work is, try to learn what you can. Measuring up against others, especially when you don’t know them well enough to know their professional journey and personal struggles, can make you tumble into self-doubt and second-guessing things that work well.
3Set realistic goals: Don’t set yourself up for failure. It’s good to be ambitious, but there’s nothing wrong with slower, more confident steps to achieve the wanted results. Set goals to give yourself something to work towards but know your own limits and leave room for you and your team to breathe. Falling short of your own unreasonable expectations will only contribute to making you feel insecure.
A Little Help Building Confidence at Work
1Know your strengths: There’s a reason you are where you are, so remind yourself of what you’ve accomplished and the specific skills, capabilities and experiences that have helped you get there. Try to focus on these strengths when you’re feeling inadequate, this will also make it easier to see the areas that you can work on, and face some of the fears and insecurities weighing you down. If you need it, there are those who swear a little morning pep talk to the mirror can be great for morale.
2Communicate with your team: Building strong relationships with your leaders and colleagues, where everyone can communicate openly and honestly and come to each other with feedback, where everyone feels respected, heard, and considered. Unsurprisingly, this kind of work culture makes people feel valued within a company, and this makes it easier to talk when something, or someone, needs to change. It’s harder to feel as an impostor in a place where you feel treasured. It’ll also be more comfortable to ask how you can improve.
3Find a mentor: Having a good leader or mentor to talk to when building confidence and overcoming self-doubt are necessary. A good mentor can offer the kind of real talk that helps impostor syndrome fade away. This makes leadership a key element in making sure you’re helping people stay away from those feelings of inadequacy. Having the advice of someone you trust and look up to can help provide some of the encouragement you need.
A Leader’s Role Building Confidence to Overcome Impostor Syndrome
Leaders need to create supportive environments where people can thrive, and women and other underrepresented groups can be confident about being appreciated for their skills and talents. Thus, it’s important for leaders to learn how to lead with empathy, foster strong work relationships and encourage honest communication between team members on all levels. Relationships that can help all team members overcome impostor syndrome and build confidence.