This is the second guide in my Imposter Syndrome series and explores the impact Imposter Syndrome can have within an organisation. The Series list is as follows:

Part 1- Demystifying the Imposter Syndrome. (See my previous article). 

Part 2- Why you should you care.

Part 3- Understanding what kind of ‘competent’ is your competent.

Part 4- Beating the Imposter.

The balloons have been released and your colleague has just been recognised for the fantastic work he did on the latest project, everyone is clapping but he is just anxious. You may not know this, but he feels that this success is because he has been able to dupe his team and eventually and inevitably, he will be found out…

You know that Bob is the best person for the new role as manager, so you encourage him to apply but he doesn’t, and you ask yourself why?

Jan stays behind every day after work and has never missed a deadline, but she seems unhappy, you want to confront her but are worried about what to say so you leave it… 

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These are all scenarios that can exist in organisations and could be a sign that imposter syndrome is rife in your organisation.

This paper in the series invites you to think about why it matters. We believe that as a leader you can play a pivotal role to accept and attend to the Imposter when it surfaces, our invitation is that as leaders you can ensure that these situations are recognised and managed with sensitivity and compassion.

Psychologists, Executive Coaches and Organisation Development communities are starting to work with this more and more and its because Companies as well as individuals pay a high price when talent is not able to fully ‘show up’ or worse still are under-performing – due to this sense of inadequacy.

If not addressed I.S. will distort job effectiveness, advancement or succession and certainly talent potential. It doesn’t take a genius to recognise that this will ultimately impact morale and fulfillment as well as overall productivity.

So, you might want to attend to the I.S in your orgs if you care about:

  • Untapped talent – as leaders avoid reaching their potential
  • An inability of leaders to feel ownership of their role – eroding a culture of individual autonomy and empowerment.
  • A lack of authenticity in workplace – as your employees don’t feel like they can have genuine conversations or be themselves.

When it fosters an environment where leaders and employees are reluctant to take risks, then look out for:

  • Procrastination and delays in productivity.
  • Employee stress in decision making situations.
  • Tension between perfection and performance.
  • High attrition as leaders opt out rather than be exposed.

It is vital that as leaders we can recognise and acknowledge the Imposter Syndrome in the workplace today.

Remember the first in this series built a picture of what it is at an individual level. As a reminder, it usually presents itself in others, in any of the following four ways:

  • Anxiety- Worrying that they’re not good enough.
  • Self-doubt- Difficulty in accepting praise and constantly comparing themselves to others as feel as if they don’t match up.
  • Passivity- Will not put themselves forwards for promotions and opportunities.
  • Perfectionism- Will be highly critical of their own work and may not wish to pass it over unless they feel it is perfect. They may try to be a workplace hero burning themselves out and forcing sick days.

Imposter syndrome can have far-reaching consequences in the workplace. Dream jobs can turn into missed opportunities, promising candidates can stagnate during interviews, and undoubtedly productivity levels and employee engagement are affected.

Please keep connected as we will be introducing the third part of this series in the coming weeks. If you can see any of the aforementioned signs in your organisation or if the work of your organisation is being affected please start the conversation. Diagnosis is half the cure and by acknowledging it and giving it a name, you may already be supporting those experiencing it. Moreover, you can attend to how our organisation may be reinforcing it and start to make healthy adaptions within your culture.

Please comment and let us know how it show’s up in your organisation and any powerful adaptations you have welcomed.

I am sure you have heard of the Imposter Syndrome or if you haven’t it will not be long before you do. In organisations, the narrative around this subject is growing and people, both men and women at senior level and below, are speaking up about the effects the Imposter Syndrome can have.

I decided to explore this subject in detail as it is something that I have experienced myself and see in a lot of my clients. I felt it was time to add to the narrative by lifting the lid on this topic whilst providing some realism, hope and advice to those who are conflicted on what the Imposter Syndrome is and why it shows up from time to time in their leadership.

The series will be published over the next few weeks and as with all my work it would be great to hear your own experiences and strategies. It’s only by doing so and bringing an open dialogue to this that we can begin to not only make sense of it but to access a suite of tools to beat it.

 Please look forward to this four part series, offering you ways to understand this syndrome further.

Part 1- Demystifying the Imposter Syndrome

Part 2- Why you should you care.

Part 3- Understanding what kind of competent is your competent

Part 4- Beating the Imposter