Impostor Syndrome Affects 75% of American Women Executives: How to Beat it

Impostor Syndrome Affects 75% of American Women Executives: How to Beat it

Everybody has times in their careers when they question their skills and don’t think they’re qualified for a position. However, it turns out that women are more likely to experience similar emotions, which are best described in two words: imposter syndrome. Many female executives, managers, and top performers who aspire to management and leadership roles sometimes struggle with impostor syndrome, also known as self-doubt.

According to a 2020 KPMG study, which polled 750 high-performing executive women (a few steps below the C-suite) at the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, 75% of respondents said they had felt like an impostor at some point in their careers; 85% thought that this feeling was primarily experienced by women in corporate America; and 81% said they put more pressure on themselves than their male counterparts to perform well and not fail in business.

Impostor syndrome is a psychological condition in which people believe they are fakes and are unfit to hold a position or perform a function, even though their background and experience demonstrate otherwise. As a result, if you have imposter syndrome, you may frequently reject compliments and acknowledgements of your accomplishments, attributing your professional success to coincidence, luck, or other outside forces rather than taking responsibility for it.

This psychological pattern is most likely to affect high performers, managers, and leaders, and when it does, it motivates them to work even harder and produce even more in an effort to show everyone, including themselves, that they are worthy of their position.

Among the most significant results of the survey was the observation that “56% have been afraid that they will not live up to expectations or that people around them will not believe they are as capable as expected.” In 2023, UCLA researchers led by psychiatrist Dr. Brandon Ito of UCLA Health observed that successful individuals from marginalized groups—such as women and people of color—are more likely to suffer from impulsive syndrome.

How To Get Rid Of Your Own Doubt

Recognizing your impostor syndrome is the first step towards conquering it. Determine the areas of your life and job where it frequently manifests. It often takes some time to identify the voice in your head because it is so frequent and subtle. Now that you are aware of the situations in which self-doubt is eroding your confidence, persona, and leadership style, do the following actions to get rid of self-doubt and get past impostor syndrome:

1. Honor Your Accomplishments

Think back on your professional experience thus far and the factors that brought you to your current position. Instead of looking to other people for approval, consider the evidence, the glowing testimonials you’ve received, and the effort you’ve put into your work to make it successful. Make it a practice to recognize and give yourself credit for all of your accomplishments, no matter how minor. Celebrate who you are. They are all very important.

  1. Practice self-compassion
    Recall that making errors is normal for a leader as well, as it’s all a part of the learning process. Accept failure as a necessary component of your leadership development. It’s not always necessary to be flawless. Being open and approachable to the teams we lead can sometimes be achieved through owning up to our faults and being self-aware enough to own them.

3. Take Charge of Your Own Success

To better control imposter syndrome, familiarize yourself with its symptoms and learn how to manage them as a leader. Use self-affirmation cards and inspirational quotes in addition to internet resources to maintain your positive attitude throughout the day. Keep a pile of these cards on your desk so you can refer to them before attending a stakeholder meeting or before making a challenging choice.

4. Establish Your Own Connections

Find and create your own external support network if your place of employment does not provide assistance, representation, or mentorship. Look for women who, in spite of all the odds, have succeeded in their jobs and moved up the corporate ladder. To stay inspired, ask them for mentorship, have discussions with them, meet them in person and virtually, and keep up with their work.

It is up to you to either challenge the voice of self-doubt that tells you that you are unworthy and unfit for your position or to build a network of support, empower yourself, and practice self-compassion while you take ownership of your leadership voice.

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