Image courtesy of Ilyass Seddoug at Unsplash

Image courtesy of Ilyass Seddoug at Unsplash

Research shows that 7 out of 10 people will at some point in their life be affected with feelings of Imposterism.  This means that 70% of a workforce can be at some point in time or throughout their career be trying to navigate these difficult internal feelings whilst trying to appear like they have got it all together.   Imposter Syndrome is not something that is openly discussed in the workplace.  In fact most people in businesses may not have heard of the phrase or indeed know what it means but most people could in fact relate to some or all of the symptoms of Imposterism.  

Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which people doubt their own competence, fail to recognise their own contribution and accomplishments, whilst having this fear of being exposed for not being good enough.   

It's amazing how many conversations I have had with people who have shared their own personal struggles with IS in their career yet no-one has ever spoken to anyone about it in their organisation.  People who I deemed to be competent and confident were in fact donning a mask and struggling to recognise their own brilliance.  Recently I was talking to someone who I have admired for over a decade only to find out that they struggled with Imposterism throughout their career and yet only now are we having the conversation about it.  Never in our careers did we openly talk about how we felt.  

But here's the thing about Imposter Syndrome.  It is a false sense of reality and in fact most individuals who are dealing with Imposterism are bright, capable and great at what they do.  They just can't see it themselves.  So how does that affect businesses?  Here's a few examples:

- talent is staying hidden under the radar as they are holding themselves back.  They are not applying for new roles or promotions and are staying stuck in roles for which they are over qualified

- individuals are experiencing symptoms but not seeking support so it is impacting their confidence and self esteem

- individuals are experiencing stress and burnout from overworking through to procrastination, which can affect performance and productivity 

- individuals are worried about saying the wrong thing so they are holding themselves back from contributing in meetings, initiatives and projects where they have something valuable to contribute

- individuals are promoted into roles with little or no support and they cannot express their doubts so are struggling to perform in their new roles

- talent is being overlooked for promotion as the individuals are struggling to articulate their skills and competence therefore roles are being given to less competent but confident individuals

- as it is also known to affect women more than men it adds to the imbalance of women in management and leadership roles

Through my coaching what I am seeing is individuals seeking out external support outside of the organisation.  They don't feel they can be truthful about how they feel or indeed whether they could get the support they need within the organisation.   These individuals are investing in themselves both in terms of money and time and the organisations that they work for are benefitting.  People are learning about themselves, breaking down limiting beliefs, building confidence in themselves and finding tools and techniques that allow them to thrive in their career.  

With up to 70% of any workforce experiencing Imposterism at some point or throughout their time with a company, I think it is beneficial for every organisation to talk about this and provide the necessary support.  For people to realise that this is an actual thing and they are not alone.  That this is something that can be labelled and indeed can be managed and overcome.

So what if everyone in an organisation could have access to this information, to understand how it affects them personally and be given the tools and techniques to dissolve it.  Would productivity and performance improve?  Would the right people be applying for the right roles?  Would it improve the health and wellbeing of employees?  Would it foster a culture of trust and collaboration? Would it help with succession planning?  Would it see more women in senior leadership roles? Could it ultimately affect the bottom line?  Absolutely.  

Imagine a company that openly allows employees to say I'm struggling right now or I don't actually know how to do this, can I have some help.   Imagine a world where in business the topic of mindset development is just as important as soft skills and technical training on the learning and development agenda. 

I am very passionate about speaking to organisations who want to put this topic of conversation on the agenda.  Providing workshops to employees, managers and leaders so if you are a leader in your business or you think this could be a great thing to recommend to your employer, then please reach out and let's talk.