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Who is the Imposter…?

If you have or know young-ish kids, the term ‘imposter’ may conjure up images of video game characters being flung out of spaceships… but the imposter we are talking about is even harder to spot and so much more difficult to get rid of!

Our imposter is that voice that says ‘you’re not good enough’, or ‘who do you think you are imagining you could get that job’, and even ‘one day, they will all figure out that you don’t deserve to be here’.

It’s the voice of doubt, the internal narrative made up of what we hear and see around us. It’s the comment made about a stranger, the tabloid article with the derogative headline, the adult who told us we couldn’t play football because it is not for girls… these subconscious messages that have entered our psyche, to plague us when we need it least!

There is some debate around the term ‘Imposter Syndrome’, but whatever you identify it as, this lack of self-belief and nagging negative voice can be a real issue for women in leadership roles. The imposter in us can derail our plans, stop us from stretching ourselves. It tells us we need to achieve more, learn more and be more if we want to lead. But no matter what we do, it will never be enough for our imposter.

And whilst, of course, lack of confidence isn’t a gender specific issue, my experience is that it really is an issue for women in particular. I have been a female leader for over a decade, with strong female role models, working in predominantly female-dominated organisations. I coach female leaders and am part of a coaching group with other successful women. And still, every woman I’ve spoken to, no matter how competent and confident they seem, has told me that this has affected them. Women who I look up to, women who would be described as experts, women who seem like they have it all together, women who have oodles of skills and huge amounts of knowledge – I haven’t met one who hasn’t experienced Imposter Syndrome at some point.

Whether you identify with the terminology or not, Imposter Syndrome is very much living ‘among us’ (sorry, couldn’t resist!). Are you going to let it sabotage your mission in life? Or is it time to eject it from the ship?

Want to find out more about how you can start to deal with your imposter?

Join our FREE Women in Leadership webinar on Tuesday 20th September at 9.30. Get in touch for more details and to book your space.

Natalie Savery

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