We All Feel Like An Imposter

Hello and welcome to our ten-week leadership healthy habits mini-series that addresses some of the most significant challenges leaders face in the workplace.

Winging it

Do you ever feel like you're winging it at work?

Do you wonder if this will be the day someone finds out you're not up to the job you've been given?

Well, let me tell you that you're not alone.

I've been leading teams and developing leaders for over two decades now, and I still feel like this on a fairly regular basis.

Imposter Syndrome

It's called Imposter Syndrome, and my experience tells me that it's a lot more common than we think. It's one of the most common topics that I find myself helping even the most senior leaders with during our one-to-one coaching and mentoring sessions.

According to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, an estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some stage in their lives.

Interestingly, Imposter Syndrome is often associated with high achievers, so if you are experiencing this, you're in good company and are on track to becoming a truly great leader.

But getting back to my experience of coaching and mentoring senior leaders.

While many are willing to share this experience with me in private, they are reluctant to share these feelings in front of their colleagues.

Instead, we get up each day and put on our work-mask as we leave the house. We arrive at the office trying to convince ourselves and those around us that we've got our s**t together, when the truth of the matter is we're doubting ourselves on the inside.

But just because we feel like an imposter in one aspect of our work, on one particular day, or in one specific meeting, it doesn't mean we are an imposter. It simply means we're learning and growing into our role. It means we've dared to take on something new.

One of the key themes I've identified from interviewing countless MDs and CEOs on my podcast is related to this exact topic. I heard time and time again how they sought out the most complex and challenging assignments – the ones that others shied away from – and it was these assignments that brought their most significant growth.

So what's the answer?

Part of the answer lies in dropping the work-mask and understanding that we do not have to appear invincible as leaders.

It's ok to let our colleagues in and ask for help.

It's ok to be a little vulnerable from time to time – as uncomfortable as that might feel.

And it's ok to be human.

The reality is, though, being vulnerable takes courage. It takes courage to say,
"I'm feeling the pressure at the moment, and I could really do with some support."

Perhaps more importantly, though, telling others what's going on paves the way for them to do the same.

That's authentic leadership, and that's what real leaders do.
Leaders go first and show others the way.

Yes, as leaders, we need to inspire those that we lead. We know from Emotional Contagion theory that our mood and emotions are highly contagious. How we act as leaders has a direct impact on those around us, which affects their mood, productivity, and how well they collaborate.

So yes, we do need to manage our state so that we can inspire those around us.

But at the same time, we also need to let people know that we are human and need to allow ourselves to be human. We have to make sure that we're looking after ourselves in order to look after those that we lead.

Leaders go first

Towards the end of 2017, my good friend and coach said something to me that is still at the front of my mind.

"You need to be careful of Mr. Perfect Syndrome. With all that you do, people may not connect with you as deeply as you'd like them to because all they see is everything that is perfect in your life."

Well, I'm human too.

I've had plenty of wobbles over the past few years and have felt like I'm playing ‘dress-up’ as a business owner.

On numerous occasions, I've experienced the thoughts and feeling most commonly associated with Imposter Syndrome. Thinking I'm not as competent or intelligent as others think I am - and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about me.

But having these thoughts doesn't make them real for you or me.

One minute mastery - take action

Stepping into a MD role with Andrew Southcott

This episode of the podcast came about after I stumbled upon a LinkedIn post that Andrew wrote summarising his first 90 days in post as the MD. So this episode really is a first-hand, extremely current,  conversation about what it’s like to step into the MD role. In our conversation, we touch on his thoughts about the new role, along with what he practically did in those first days, along with his reflections several months in.

Recommended Read

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is one of my top 5 leadership books.

It shows you that leadership is learned not inherited and that you can become a leader too, if you internalize some of the universal principles at play in any leader-follower-relationship.

Click on the image to buy the book on Amazon.

Want more? Go for the 10-4-10 Gold Edition

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What's included?

Every chapter of the 10-4-10 Leadership Programme - Gold Edition - contains one of each of the resources below. It's designed to give you a rock-solid leadership foundation and help ensure you're doing the basics brilliantly well.

- 10 Bespoke Worksheets
- 10 New Videos
- 10 Audio Files
- 10 Curated Podcasts
- 10 Book Reviews

And because you've already started free version of the programme, you can take 60% off your investment when you sign-up now, with code 'gold60'.

Real People. Real Reviews.

"This was a great course by Ben!

I took the standard 10-4-10 course almost a year ago, and this course offers a more in-depth approach using the same 10-4-10 model.

The audio and challenge segments dive deeper into the topics and give more insights and seem more personalised from Ben."

Daniel Burnett