Articles // November 11,2022

Battling Imposter Syndrome Can Help You Become Business Savvy & Achieve Long-Term Success

By Meenakshi Girish , Editor - Chandrani Datta

What if they don’t like this content?
What if they think I didn’t research it enough?
Can they see right through me and realize I am a fake?

If these internal dialogues resonate with you, then you might be dealing with imposter syndrome. It stems from deep-rooted insecurities of failure and incompetency within us. This could reflect on your business acumen skills and how you present yourself to others without seeking their validation.

“In my experience, my imposter syndrome has constantly told me I am not as competent as everyone thinks I am. I felt privileged as my social life and financial status were better than others. The opportunities I received were not based on my talents or skills. I lived in a bubble of self-doubt and set extremely high goals for myself which I knew I couldn’t meet. I sabotaged myself all the time as I couldn’t live up to my expectations!” said the CFO of a reputed marketing agency in Bangalore.

Thoughts you need to combat

As an authentic leader, your imposter syndrome can affect you more than any other employee, and prevent you from being business savvy. When you attend customer meetings or address your team, it will limit your confidence. Keeping imposter syndrome in check can show them how confident your clients and leaders how confident you are and how much they can trust you. Hence, it is vital to own yourself and banish negative thoughts.

Some common thought patterns you need to avoid:

  • I am a fraud and people will see through me any moment now.
  • I am not qualified for this role, I just got lucky.
  • Everyone has more experience than me, and can get the work done better.
  • I should never have started this project.
  • Someone needs to validate me and motivate me to work.

The good news is you have started reading this blog knowing it resonates with you. The art of being self-aware and accepting this is itself a start. Once you identify your thoughts and counter them with positive ones, you can combat your imposter syndrome through individual leadership coaching.

How to keep your imposter syndrome in check?

Self-awareness paves the way for improvement. A leader’s imposter syndrome lies in the subtle things he does and the ways he reacts to circumstances. Here are some instances when your imposter syndrome can project itself:

Handling compliments

How do you acknowledge someone when they compliment you? Do you graciously say thank you or do you attribute your success to luck?

This is the fine line between humility and self-degradation. You would be downplaying your efforts if you respond to people’s compliments with “Oh thanks, but it was just luck!”

To beat your imposter syndrome, rewire your brain to accept appreciation. Understand that however flawed you are, you are still worthy of appreciation and compliments for all the good things you do. Embrace your mistakes and your achievements without feeling awkward about owning your success.

Set reasonable expectations for yourself

Be mindful of what expectations and goals you set for yourself. If they are unreasonable and far-fetched, it makes sense to tone your goals down a bit to avoid disappointing yourself. Always remember that success is a process, and you need to travel the journey to attain it.

“I used to set extremely high targets for myself every month – even higher ones than what my company expected me to reach. I would never meet my personal goals, but I always matched the company’s targets. When people appreciated me for it, I felt like a fake and kept regretting why I didn’t put in more effort. It was never a matter of how much I had done, it was always how much more I could have done,” said a sales rep from a reputed SaaS development agency in Chennai.

Be conscious of who you allow in your circle

The people you surround yourself with should motivate you to work to the best of your abilities and encourage constructive criticism. It won’t work if you keep comparing yourself to them and tell yourself they are more qualified.

Friendly competition lies in accepting that others might have more experience than you and you can learn from them. It also works to admit that you are talented and possess enough skills even if you didn’t travel their path.

Always be conscious of the people you hire if you are a leader and who you surround yourself with if you are a team member. Your imposter syndrome can be aggravated if you constantly feel pressured to compete with them and prove yourself owing to your inferiority complex. Remember, positive minded people who encourage you without putting you down are important because they are healthy and good for you.

Treat yourself for small wins

Your business acumen skills will get better if you learn to openly treat yourself when you succeed. Several people have mentioned how helpful it is to celebrate small wins rather than wait for bigger ones. If you landed that deal, make a note of it and treat yourself to those shoes you wanted. If you reached your targets this month, go for a special dinner date with yourself! If it is tough to validate yourself, seek help through coaching and practise affirmations.

“I understood the benefits of individual leadership coaching when my coach asked me to recite affirmative thoughts every morning. I would wake up and shout TODAY IS MY DAY and every night before bed, I would say I AM PROUD OF MYSELF FOR DOING THIS TODAY. This helped me realize my potential and stop depending on others for validation,” said a leader from Bangalore who recently became an entrepreneur.

Understand that the grass is not greener

This isn’t meant to be pessimistic. But you need to realize that the grass is never greener on the other side. That is what everyone is thinking when they look at you, too. Leaders should avoid falling into this trap and accept the fact that success is not defined by a clear finish line.

Avoid comparing yourself to your peers. Be happy for them and openly celebrate their victories. So what if someone landed more conversions than you this month? Speak to them and learn what they did differently so you can grow and try the same. There is always a green side – and it happens to be the one you are on if you choose to view things positively.

Stop saying you’re sorry

If you are someone who says sorry even when it is unnecessary, you might be dealing with self-doubt and a lack of self-confidence. To combat your ingrained imposter syndrome, you can try individual leadership coaching sessions that endorse intentional language choices.

Imagine you are presenting your monthly progress report to your team. One of your teammates can’t understand what you just said. How do you respond to them?

  • Oh, sorry if I didn’t make myself clear. Let me repeat that.
  • Let me rephrase that so you can understand it better.

While the first statement has an unnecessary apology in it, the other sounds more in charge and confident. Your teammate not understanding what you said is not something you need to apologise for. Try to rewire your thoughts to be intentional about what you are saying and how you can phrase it better to project yourself differently. It helps to practice such scenarios when you are alone so you can be prepared when the situation presents itself in reality.

A great way to shift your mindset and improve your self-worth is by journaling or documenting your accomplishments. You can create a list of things you achieved during a given period in your diary or create a folder of notes and photos recording small wins. This can make you feel better whenever you are low or battling self-doubts.

Try making a to-do list with all your tasks for the day, week, and the longer term. When you complete a task, don’t erase it from your checklist or computer. Tick a box next to it or manually strike it off the page. At the end of the day, you can motivate yourself by seeing how many tasks you have struck off — it will incentivize you to believe in yourself if the tasks completed are more than those pending.

It’s best to take baby steps and practice self-compassion in your journey. Fill your cup every day with business acumen skills and words of affirmation that you are doing your best.

Combatting your imposter syndrome can help you become business savvy which in turn will make you feel better about yourself. If you wish to understand more about this issue you can click here!

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In my career leading and building high-performing teams, I enjoy inspiring & coaching employees to unlock their potential for maximum performance. The team's success is my deepest delight. Global Coaching Lab provides the platform to put this into practice every day and fulfill my passion of making others great.




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