Imposter syndrome, you may have heard of it, and it’s very likely you have experienced it. It can be unbelievably crippling and could keep you from reaching your goal of obtaining a corporate board seat.
By definition, imposter syndrome is the feeling that you’re a fraud; in your field, your professional career, and that your successes have been a total fluke. This is far from the truth, but our inner voice may often cause some disruptive self-doubt.
This psychological syndrome plagues women, many of which are high achieving, far more than men and it robs them from understanding that their hard work, knowledge, skills, experience, and intelligence have been the factors to pave the way for their success.
Individual women also don’t realize that they are not alone in this experience and that many others are often troubled by this issue. It can be isolating to feel this way, especially if you don’t share with someone how you’re feeling know this is what may be holding you back.
Imposter syndrome can manifest itself in many different shapes and forms.
For example, many women may feel that those surrounding them in the workplace are total and complete experts in their field, and by happenstance, they have somehow landed themselves in a peer role to those so-called “experts”. Imposter syndrome also causes a person to become paranoid that someone around them might “find out” who they really are; whether that means they are somehow less knowledgeable about their field than expected or unqualified for their role.
Unfortunately for many women, these feelings can stifle their careers because they feel less inclined to lead initiatives, speak up, take on challenging tasks, or apply for positions like a corporate board seat. It becomes a missed opportunity. And you shouldn’t look back on your career and think “what if?”. Because of this, it’s critical that women address these doubts head on. And they should do so through a clear lens to abolish any falsehoods about their skills and abilities from their thinking. I want you to know that if you’ve ever experienced this feeling, you are not alone. In fact, I’m writing from my own personal experience and you’re in good company.
So what can you do to push those feelings of imposter syndrome away?
It’s important for women struggling with imposter syndrome to speak with a trusted peer or mentor. This can help you to reestablish an understanding for just how valuable your professional experience is and reinforce how esteemed your achievements are for a board seat. This experience can also help you to separate your feelings from the facts, break your silence and shame about your imposter syndrome, and develop a new script about yourself, resulting in a more confident you.
Remember, others around you may have or are currently struggling with imposter syndrome, but it is crucial to your success that you overcome those feelings so that they don’t get in the way of you taking your next step toward a leadership position, speaking up in your next meeting, or even applying to for a corporate board seat. Get out of your own way and, envision your ambitions to taking that next step forward. What are you waiting for?
Sheila Ronning, founder and CEO of Women In The Boardroom – an organization founded with the goal of bridging the gender gap in the boardroom – is a recognized expert on boardroom diversity and leadership. Follow her on Twitter (Twitter @RonningSheila) or reach out to her at Ronning@womenintheboardroom.com
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