Success in business is not straightforward. Attaining it, maintaining it, or even recognising when you’ve got it. Imposter Syndrome is when you cannot actually recognise your own success or your own abilities. It’s about feeling like a fraud at work and it’s not uncommon.
Mike Pollitt of True Progress Coaching, in Wilmslow, remarks on how prevalent it can be, “There are people who appear very confident but who will tell you that they’re sure they’ll eventually be found out”.
The Origins of Imposter Syndrome
The “imposter phenomenon” was first identified in the 1970s. At that time it was thought to be mainly confined to high-achieving women. It is now recognised to be more widely experienced and to be problematic for a growing number of people, both men and women.
“People’s psychological problems arise from how they view the world”, Mike explains. “This can involve them applying deep-seated feelings of inferiority to situations which results in them constantly questioning their self-worth”.
Sufferers of Imposter Syndrome rely on strategies of thinking to daily situations that reinforce feelings of not deserving their success or the position they hold. Typically they will attribute their achievements to pure luck, or to the efforts of others. They won’t credit themselves as deserving of praise or reward.
“The facts don’t support what’s being reiterated”, says Mike. “These are often high-achieving individuals in key roles, but they think that they don’t deserve to be there”.
Imposter Syndrome can also lead to a kind of self-sabotage where sufferers’ ability to act is impeded by the fear of being exposed as unworthy of their position or status. With business culture constantly changing and evolving, there should be an increasing willingness and ability to adapt on the part of business leaders and managers. Imposter Syndrome is more likely than not to be a barrier to embracing that change.
“The current move is towards knowledge sharing”, Mike observes, “If you’re not comfortable with fundamental changes in behaviour and relationships it’s likely to become increasingly difficult for you”.
Mike specialises in executive coaching and understands the kind of problems people encounter as a result of Imposter Syndrome. “We’re more and more reliant on new, developing technologies. As an established business leader you can find yourself increasingly removed from them and, therefore, dependent on others. This should be the foundation of good, sound leadership, but that’s unlikely if you already feel insecure in your position. Being able to adapt, develop and grow will require ways of coping and changing your thinking.”
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