“If I don’t get this sorted out, it’s going to affect my whole career, ” she told me. In front of me was a talented young woman who had already achieved so much. She had contacted me to talk about how stuck she was feeling in her career – the promotion she had set her heart on was fast fading away and seemed out of reach, as the persistent feeling that she didn’t belong on her current role stopped her from making herself more visible.
It’s a story I’ve heard before.
If you’re an ambitious, talented professional woman, who’s not quite achieving what you’re truly capable of, it may be because you’re in the grip of something that may feel stronger than you are.
The Imposter Syndrome, an extreme form of self-doubt, first coined by two psychologists in the late 1970s, can stop you in its tracks.
Do you feel like a fraud in the workplace? Are you waiting for the tap on the shoulder that lets you know that you don’t deserve to be in that chair and have that job? Do you sometimes stand in front of a group of people and think ‘What on earth am I doing here?’
You’re not alone.
The Imposter Syndrome affects highly capable, successful professionals, and research has shown that women are particularly affected.
Are you one of them? The Imposter Syndrome is characterized by the belief that you are a fake, a fraud and that one day you will be found out. Any success is down to luck, and other people’s belief in you is misguided. It’s debilitating, holds you back and affects your career success.
It’s especially tough if you are looking for a new role; learning to manage your imposter can make all the difference to your success and career path. You can also download 5 Steps To Develop Your Leadership Presence here which will give you further tips for landing your next promotion.
Here are three ways to help put that imposter back in its box and allow you to demonstrate your true potential and be seen as being promotion-ready – and land that next role.
1. Ask this question. When you begin to recognise those imposter-type feelings, ask yourself this one question: in what ways am I not an imposter? Say one answer out loud and then write it down. Then ask the question again. Say the answer out loud and write it down. Keep repeating this until you have a good list of reasons why you’re not an imposter. A powerful way to do this is to have someone else ask you the question: in what ways are you not an imposter?
There’s something about saying things out loud that can take away their sting and power over us – I also find this helpful if I’m feeling negative about a situation, as saying it aloud helps me see I’m over-reacting or being plain daft or unreasonable. In any case, it will loosen the grip of the imposter.
2. Career mapping. This is an activity that will give you a very clear picture of your career to date; it’ll show you what you’ve achieved and how you’ve done that, noting the key events that have shaped your career.
- Draw a continuous line mapping your career from the past into the future, mapping the high points with peaks and the low points with valleys.
- Write a couple of words description at each of the peaks & troughs (eg. got first promotion, new boss that I didn’t enjoy working with, won company award, made redundant).
- Here are some questions you can answer along the way:
- What are the significant milestones/events in your career to date?
- What are achievements are you proud of?
- What do I need to include to make my career-map more rounded and complete?
This is another exercise that’s powerful when talked through with a partner.
I have a handout with details of this exercise if you’d like it – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a copy. This activity will help you get a realistic picture of your career and achievements, not the biased one you may be experiencing through the eyes of your imposter.
3. Talk. Have a professional conversation once a month, with a coach, mentor, accountability partner, a colleague or friend. Share what’s gone well, what’s gone not so well and your role in both. Set yourself some goals for the coming month. Your aim is to build up a realistic picture of yourself so you understand your strengths but also your weaknesses too – this helps you to be realistic and find your center more easily when you begin to criticize yourself. It will also feed into your previous activities and allow you to add to a realistic picture of your achievements.
These three activities will help you to manage that imposter, lead with impact and become promotion-ready. Let me know how you get on. You may also be interested in this, take a look – The Pathway To Promotion.
I’m Susan Ritchie and I help executives and entrepreneurs to lead themselves and their teams with impact.
If you’d like to learn how to develop the visibility, credibility and impact you need to lead more effectively, and you’re committed to achieving that your career goals, then you can make a start by downloading 5 Steps To Develop Your Leadership Presence