Feeling like a fraud… The Imposter syndrome

There seems to be a rise in managers acknowledging that they feel as if they don’t deserve their jobs, that they are impostors and are going to be found out at any time. That fear is hanging over them like a dark cloud.   Acknowledgement of this fear is on the increase, and there is a greater number of managers who are addressing the issue.

Are you an imposter?

You are in a role and don’t feel as if you deserve to be there and this may be for a number of reasons. You feel your age is against you, too old or too young. You do not have the experience for the role, possibly lack qualifications, or you are managing a colleague who would be better suited to the role as they have worked there longer and therefore know the business better.   You, The Imposter may believe that you don’t deserve the salary, (the salary leap from your previous role is vast). You may feel you have been promoted too quickly and your new position is too senior for your abilities.

Then there’s the feeling of being out of control, when you feel you can’t manage and you’re plunged into some situations expecting to fail, you feel you do not have the knowledge to backup any questions should you be asked, everyone else knows better, everyone expects you to be the expert. These and more lead to the fear of humiliation, of being found out, then there is the rejection of being sacked; the pain caused to self and others from the perceived deception.

Now you start to look at your behaviour; frozen with fear?  Over-compensating? Being very assertive (read aggressive), deflecting the blame onto others, and the list goes on.

If only you had stayed where you were… when will you be found out?

Driving Success through Performance

There are ways that this could be tackled. The very first thing anyone who is in this position and is suffering imposter syndrome should do is stop and breathe. Now is the time to take action and own how you feel, and more to the point, how you want to feel.

Calendar Place a two hour time-slot in hour calendar to start to address this issue.   You should choose a time and a place where you will not be disturbed.   It may work for you to place two one hour slots, it may even take longer.  You may want to do it now.  Regardless, ensure that you have undisturbed time to focus.

Workbook Print off the workbook.

Audio Download the audio that accompanies this module.  It will give you clear instructions, be sure to pause the recording when asked to do so.

Driving Success through Performance

Consider your options

Take the easy option – Resign

Not the ideal option. The most obvious and easiest action to take when you are suffering from imposter syndrome is to resign before you are caught out or make a mistake.  Resign before you are asked the question you do not know the answer too. Resign before you are sacked. Resign before the humiliation.

And will potentially trigger a series of events, potentially all with negative outcomes. Including resigning from all future jobs, as your confidence takes a major dip each and every time you carry this action out.

Consider the more productive options.

Stay and work at it

Staying in the role will give you an opportunity to address the problem head-on.  This too will potentially trigger a series of events, with positive outcomes.   This could be the start of facing your insecurities head on and coming out stronger and more capable.

This is the better option.

Time to take action.


Ensure you have your workbook printed out for the following:


Tasks and Responsibilities – Column 1
Within your workbook and in the 1st column, list your key and recurring tasks and responsibilities within your role.

Why did you get the role?

Even if you believe it was only because you were in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time) there would have been something about you that attracted the decision maker to appoint you to the role.   What was that?  What did you have?  Most experience? Best understanding of the business?  Different view point to others? Demonstrated managerial skills?  What was it?

What does the role require?

Now you have a better idea of why you were selected to the role. Consider what the role entails. What skill sets are required? Which behaviours will need to be demonstrated within the role? What are the measurable outcomes that your success will be measured on?  What are the essential outcomes that you are being measured on?  What are the desirables of the role?


Strengths – Column 2
Looking down you list of responsibilities and tasks (column 1) ‘strengths’ and how they support the task, e.g. Task: Weekly reporting, Strength: Competent within Excel.

What are your strengths?

From column 1, what tasks and responsibilities have you already nailed?  What other strengths can you bring to the role?  Focus on your strengths only, it’s vital to remain realistic at this stage.

Consider what strengths would your best friend would say you have? What would your favourite boss tell you?  What would your last boss tell you?   List these alongside the relevant task and responsibilities.  What other strengths will support your success?


Limitations – Column 3

What are your limitations?

Be realistic with this list.  This is probably easier to identify due to your state of mind.  Remember at this point, you are working towards balance.   Consider what would your best friend would say if you asked what your weaknesses were.  What would your favourite boss tell you? And your last boss? List these alongside the relevant task and responsibilities.

Your focus here is to get balanced feedback.   Crazy thought, would it actually be worth asking for feedback?


Actions to take – Column 4

Focus your development.

You now have a list of role requirements, your strengths and areas for improvement.   Within the areas for improvement, ask yourself, which tasks and responsibilities are you priorities to deliver on?  Which will offer quick wins? Which will you enjoy strengthening?

List the actions you will take and need to take in column 4 and take action.



Balance is key in the exercise.    Support will bring balance. If appropriate work with your manager on this and if not your manager, do you have a mentor?  How about a coach?  Having someone who will support you and engage you without judgement is vital.   A supporter who will work with you on a plan of action and work with you on your success.  Someone who can help you focus your attention on the bigger picture to bring balance, results, outcomes and be a sounding board and more.


Are you ready for success?

Find out more about Executive Coaching or call me now to arrange your free consultation on 0203 489 6734