Our RingCentral WISE (Women in SaaS Empowerment) Employee Resource Group (ERG) recently hosted a webinar series with Jill Chiappe, founder and CEO of Coachability, an executive coaching and consulting firm which she began in San Diego in 2000. While the sessions were tied to Women’s History Month as part of an exciting series of activities hosted by our group, the reality is that Jill’s advice is evergreen and always applicable for both women and men alike.
The sessions provided fascinating insight and reflection on Imposter Syndrome, how common it is, how to recognize it and what tools you can apply to help overcome those irrational thoughts and feelings.
Here are some of my key takeaways and why it’s so important that as leaders we’re creating the right environment mindset to help employees feel appreciated, valued and set up to thrive and grow.
Mitigating Imposter Syndrome Feelings & Behaviors
We’ve all wrestled with Imposter Syndrome at some point on our career journey and as a leader it’s important we are tuned in to recognizing those behavior red flags and the negative impact they can have on our wellbeing. Creating the right growth mindset and culture to foster a healthy and more mindful workplace that adds to our professional confidence and personal health.
Jill shared some practical tips on recognizing the behavior in yourself or others and what actions you can take to adjust and reframe those behaviors. Acknowledging also that there will always be times in our life that we may experience ‘imposter moments’ but the shift we are really trying to make is from ‘having an imposter life to having imposter moments.’
Recognizing the Behavior and Imposter Types
Before diving into some of the practical tips and actions that can help mitigate imposter syndrome, we had a reflective discussion on popular research by Dr. Valerie Young, who is widely recognized as an expert on imposter syndrome. Her research involved categorizing imposter syndrome into five subgroups which are helpful in understanding the patterns of behavior that can lead to the development of imposter feelings.
The Five Subgroups
- The Expert: Never feels like an expert, obsessive learner, doesn’t want to be called “expert”
- The Genius: Loves gold stars but likes to succeed without effort. If it’s not effortless, quickly gets down on self. Dislikes mentors, avoids challenges
- The Superwoman/man: Workaholic, overstressed, does everything for everyone. Overwhelmed but won’t quit or say no.
- The Perfectionist: Micromanages everyone, including self. Trouble delegating. Overdoes, redoes.
- The Soloist: Likes to do things independently. Not great in teamwork. Rejects help. Tends to get requirements of project vs. needs of person.
Our breakout session inspired us to think about which of the five styles we might identify with most and challenge ourselves to see the positives and the negatives of each behavior pattern. While I had an idea of where my own particular style might fall – it was fascinating to see how we can have moments of each throughout our career.
So, what can we do to stay attuned to those behaviors and tendencies and address them head-on – to practice our own self-care and being mindful of the behavior we might see in ourselves or someone on our team? As Jill shared it comes to practicing mental discipline and agility.
Step One – Be Open and Share Your Own Experience
The first step is to normalize those imposter feelings – sharing your own insecurities and how you’ve overcome them. Acknowledging how common the feelings are and providing affirmation and assurance when you recognize the behavior in others.
Step Two – Reframing
This is really about taking a pause to remind yourself about your strengths. Jill gave the example of ‘stage fright’, perhaps you’re about to give a presentation and those anxious feelings can catch you. This requires mental discipline to change the feelings of fear into excitement and channeling that energy for a positive mindset and approach.
Step Three – Logic
Imposter feelings are inherently based and borne out of irrational feelings. Taking the time to step away and calm the irrational thought process to a more logical pattern of thinking about whatever the activity or challenge is that’s causing the fraudulent feeling or self-doubt.
Step Four – Sequence it out!
We’re all prone to leading with our feelings – it’s a natural part of the human condition! And getting bogged down in the “If I feel this way, it’s true” quagmire. Jill challenged us to lead with our rational thoughts and not the irrational feelings that can take over.
Step Five – Fostering Confident Wellbeing
Competence, practice and a strong moral compass are the key traits for fostering a positive and healthy outlook and perspective. Developing all these techniques to become a more confident leader and leading with that same purpose.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome for a More Confident You and Purposeful Leadership
It’s enlightening and encouraging to see the conversation taking place right now around imposter syndrome, particularly in a workplace setting. By recognizing imposter moments when they happen and taking the time to process those feelings, we are taking meaningful steps towards a more confident future. And by recognizing and praising the good work done by our colleagues we can address harmful behavior patterns and help our teams to thrive and grow.
Originally published Jun 08, 2023