Imposter Syndrome. I am sure you have heard the term, but what exactly does it mean? Amy Cuddy devotes a whole chapter to this leadership challenge in this month’s LeadHer Biz Bookclub book, Presence. According to Amy, “Imposter Syndrome is the general feeling that we don’t belong, we’ve fooled people into thinking we are more confident or talented than we are. It is not stage freight – it is a deep paralyzing belief that we have been given something that we didn’t earn or deserve and at some point we will be exposed.” Michelle Obama offers a great description of Imposter Syndrome in this video.
Interestingly enough, Imposter Syndrome is most common among high performing women, despite their accomplishments and perception from the outside. It is that creep of doubt that sometimes overcomes me before I step on the stage or when I begin to speak in a room full of accomplished people. How can Imposter Syndrome hinder your leadership effectiveness? According to Cuddy, “If achieving presence means us being our truest authentic self we can’t be present if feeling fake. Imposterism steals our power and suffocates our presence.”
Imposter Syndrome is also prevalent among women of color and recently some have argued that it is less about confidence or Imposter Syndrome and more about systematic racism and bias.
If it is a feeling you have experienced, when does it occur? Why are you experiencing it? How is it holding you back? And what can you do to overcome it? We will discuss this and some of Cuddy’s recommendations at our next book club. I hope you will join us. And I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with Imposter Syndrome, comment below or email me.